Paper Example on Climate Change and the Napa Valley Wine Industry

Published: 2021-07-21
1758 words
7 pages
15 min to read
Boston College
Type of paper: 
Case study
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In the following document, the main issues facing the Napa Valley Wine Industry due to climate change shall be assessed. As a result of a detailed analysis of each issue, possible solutions to each issue will be recommended to improve the Napa Valley Wine Industry. One among the proposed solutions will then be picked and discussed in details with a proposed implementation plan. It is good to mention that a detailed account of each issue and its corresponding solution will be given in the appendix section.

Case Issues

Four key issues can be deduced from the case study: the high intensity of rival companies, the threat of deteriorating climate conditions, the threat of substitute products, and increased pest attacks. When it comes to the issue of stiff competition from rivals, the key competitors to consider are the United Kingdom wine companies (Hannah, 2011). In this case, the UK companies are thriving in wine production even in the occurrence of climate change (Appendix 1). The major reason is that the UK experiences long duration sunshine due to climate change which is favorable for the growth of grapes. On the issue of deteriorating climatic conditions, it is good to recall that climate change is the major cause of the deterioration. Specifically, the temperatures have increased to high levels than they ever were before which could be taken as to be favorable for the early maturity of grapes. However, the presence of high temperatures also negatively affects the grapes though increasing alcohol and acidity content in the grapes which is unfavorable for wine making (Appendix 2A, 2B and Appendix 3). On the issue of substitute products, it is good to mention that other drink products, containing alcohol, including beer and other beverages have gained popularity in recent times. As such, people tend to choose beer and the other drinks especially since they are more affordable (Appendix 10 and 11). Finally, on the issue of increased pest attacks, the increased temperatures create a conducive environment in which pests can survive better. Thus, invasive species increase as the temperature increases which pose a challenge to the farmer.

Solutions to Issues

The issue of rivalry can be solved through improving the growing and processing conditions within Napa Valley (Vintners, 2017). In this case, skilled personnel should be heavily employed within the sector who should incorporate the experts of adjusting the wines acidity and alcohol content regardless of unfavorable climatic conditions. Therefore, the companies should work towards acquiring the best workforce who are conversant with the most effective production and winemaking processes in this era of global warming and climate change. Most importantly, the companies should invest in intensive research of the best ways to grow grapes and process wine such that the best quality of wine makes it to the market. For instance, the research would be carried out to determine and develop new varieties of grapes that are more resistant to the unfavorable climatic conditions such as temperatures (Appendix 4). In so doing, the growers will be able to produce high quality grapes which will yield high quality wine that matches up to that produced in the UK thus increasing the competitive advantage for Napa Valley winery sector.

The issue of deteriorating climate can be solved through the use of shades and relocating farming sites to regions which are least affected by the increasing temperatures due as the climate changes. Also, other techniques such as mulching that reduce the loss of moisture thus producing a cooling effect should be used (Appendix 5). As already mentioned, Napa Valley could invest in research for novel varieties of grapes which can withstand the prevailing poor temperature conditions.

The issue of substitute products can be solved by ensuring that the price of wine is regulated to affordable but cost-effective levels such that the companies still make profitability and the customers are not exploited. Further, the companies should ensure that they make the best quality of wine so that the customers see it worth to spend their cash on the wine (Appendix 10 and 11).

The issue of pest attacks can be solved by increasing the amounts of environmentally friendly pesticides and fungicides (avoiding the types shown in Appendix 7A, 7B, and 7C) so that the threats of pest and diseases during the growing seasons can be mitigated (Appendix 8). There are also other pest control methods such as the use of owl boxes and cover crops which can be used since they are environmentally friendly (Appendix 9 and Appendix 10).

Next Best Contingency

To improve grapes production in Napa Valley regardless of climate change, the companies within the region have to improve their productivity through mainly dealing with temperature changes (Appendix 6). Notably, the temperature change is as a result of climate change, and it is the essence of the shifting competitive advantage between the Napa Valley and the UK wineries. Therefore, developing strategies to counter the unfavorable temperatures is going to solve most of the major issues including pest attacks (Hannah at al., 2013). As a solution of mitigating the effects of temperature changes, those growing the grapes can adopt strategic techniques such as constructing shades within the farms to reduce the direct/excessive solar illumination and enable moisture retention for cooling the temperatures or consider moving the site to a different zone with fewer temperature changes. Finally, more research can be done so that new varieties of grapes can be developed which are more adaptive to the harsh climatic conditions resulting from climate change (Appendix 4).


Aguirre, J., Browde, J., Francioni-Hai, L., Garn, J., Jordan, A. and Leininger, R. ed., (2012). California Code Of Sustainable Winegrowing Workbook. 3rd ed. California: California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance, Wine Institute and California Association of Winegrape Growers, pp.1-457.

Bar-Am, C. and Sunmer, D. (2006). Map 2. California - Sonoma and Napa Counties Napa Sonoma Map 3. Australia - Adelaide Region (Barossa Valley) Map 1. France Wine Regions Dijon (Burgundy) Bordeaux Economic Effects of Climate Change on California Wine Industry - Research in Progress. [ebook] California: University of California Agricultural Issue Center, p.1. Available at: [Accessed 14 Sep. 2017].

Broome, J. and Warner, K. (2008). Agro-environmental partnerships facilitate sustainable wine-grape production and assessment. California Agriculture, 62(4), pp.133-141.

Cahill, K. (2008). Global change in local places: Climate change and the future of the wine industry in Sonoma and Napa, California. Ph. D. Stanford University.

Gatto, J., Kim, B., Mahdavi, P., Namekawa, H. and Tran, H. (2009). The Future Impact of Climate Change on the California Wine Industry and Actions the State of California Should Take to Address It. International Policy Studies Program. [online] Caifornia: Stanford University, pp.1-59. Available at: [Accessed 14 Sep. 2017].

Gershunov, A., Cayan, D. and Retornaz, B. (2009). California Heat Waves with Impacts on Wine Grapes. Geophysical Research Letters, [online] pp.1-11. Available at:

Hannah, L. (2011). Climate Change, Connectivity, and Conservation Success. Conservation Biology, 25(6), pp.1139-1142.

Hannah, L., Ikegami, M., Shepard, A., Shaw, M., Tabor, G., Zhi, L., Marquet, P., Hijmans, R. and Roehrdanz, P. (2013). Climate change, wine, and conservation. PNAS, [online] 110(1), pp.6907-6912. Available at:

Hira, A. and Swartz, T. (2014). What makes Napa Napa? The roots of success in the wine industry. Wine Economy and Policy, 3(1), pp.37-53.

Jones, G. and Webb, L. (2007). Climate Change: Observations, Projections, and General Implications for Viticulture and Wine Production. [online] pp.1-14. Available at:

Strayer, p. (2017). Pesticides in Paradise: 30,000 Pounds of Roundup in Napa. [online] Available at: [Accessed 14 Sep. 2017].

Vintners, N. (2017). Napa Vintners Release Findings of Climate Study. [online] Available at: [Accessed 14 Sep. 2017].


Appendix 1

Source: Gatto et al. (2009)

The overall change in varietal-climate thresholds as shown in Appendix 1 is as temperature rises, the quality of wine increases up to a given maximal beyond which it falls due to too high or too low temperatures. Hence, in the case of the UK, the climate change is affecting the temperatures such that they remain in the optimal zone where grapes do well and thus the quality of the wine is better than in Napa. Napa, on the other hand, is experiencing the too warm threshold which is reducing the quality of wine and thus giving the UK a competitive advantage.

Appendix 2A

Year 1973 1978 1983 1988 1993 1998 2003

Temperature 18.25 18.4 18.15 18.4 18 18.2 19

Source: Bar-Am and Sumner (2006)

Appendix 2B

Source: Bar-Am and Sumner (2006)

Appendix 2A and 2B show clearly that the temperatures within Napa Valley have been increasing at a minimal average constant of 18.1 degree Celsius (2B). The temperatures have averagely varied from a minimal value of 18 degrees Celsius to a maximal of 19 degree Celsius. This gradual change in temperature results from the increasing climate change and the effect of global warming. Therefore, the temperature within Napa has increased with time and is expected to keep hindering the growth of grapes.

Appendix 3

Source: Gershunov, Cyan and Retonaz (2009)

This Appendix 3 relates to appendix 2A and B and is meant to illustrate that the temperatures within Napa Valley are and have been increasing since the middle of the 20th century in which case industrialization was becoming stronger. Here, a longer range of time (1945-2009) is depicted which provides a better picture of how the climatic conditions have been changing over time.

Appendix 4

Source: Jones (2006)

In this figure (Appendix 4) a variety of grapes that are common around the globe are shown. As can be seen, there are over 20 varieties of grapes, and they all have unique temperature requirements for growth and maturity. All the portrayed grapes species grow to maturity within the temperature range of 13oC to 24oC. In addition to that, it is clear that the varying species require different time periods to grow to maturity and ripening levels as indicated by the length of the rectangle in which case the longer the rectangle, the longer, the longer the ripening time necessary. Therefore, he issue of unfavorable temperature can be solved by researching the soil and climate conditions necessary for growing a varietal of grapes in a given area. As a result, the varietal found to be more suitable can be grown in the region as it would do much better. This way, expensive means of mitigation of the effect of temperature such as moving of site can be avoided.

Appendix 5

Source: Bar-Am and Sumner (2006)

This figure illustrates how the supply of wine projected to change in Napa by 2050 as a result of increasing temperature conditions. From the figure, the supply is proje...

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