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Weather & Science

California's $45 Billion Wine Industry Faces Climate Peril

Vineyards producing California’s premier red and white wines are being hit with everything from excessive heat to drought to deep freezes as climate change bears down.

Vineyards in Napa, California, in 2020.

Vineyards in Napa, California, in 2020.

Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

California’s wine country, including the famed Napa and Sonoma valleys, faces a climate crisis so dire that it’s posing an existential threat to the future of the state’s industry.

Grapes have been hit with one extreme after another. This year’s season started out with a deep frost that iced over verdant green buds, nipping them right off the vine. For the crops that survived, the freeze quickly gave way to drought and heat. Just in the past week, record-breaking temperatures baked parched vineyards. Then there’s the ever-present threat of wildfires and smoke damage.