Heard it through the grapevine

I heard a rumor that global warming might ruin Napa Valley’s wines. Is this true?

A rumor is like cheap red table wine: I wouldn’t be caught dead near either. But since you insist on tainting my refined palate with such low-brow gossip, I’ll remove my nose from this glass of full-bodied, buttery, oak-hued, deep, versatile-yet-challenging chardonnay to say that I might have heard a little something last time I cruised through Napa Valley. In my hybrid, of course.

I’m sure you already know that the cool fog of Napa and Sonoma creates a superior grape-growing climate that curbs sugar-producing warmth in time to develop the grapes’ key flavors, but I so love to hear myself say it. And I’m sure you also know that a significant warmth in temperature could diminish the fog, damaging the wine’s color and flavor beyond anything Wine Spectator magazine would ever tell me to drink. But don’t bemoan the hours you’ve spent memorizing lines from Sideways just yet.

Another rumor has it that UC Davis’ viticulture (that’s the study of grape-growing, if you didn’t know) program is testing vineyards of warm-climate grapes, which might someday replace the cool climate region’s pinot noirs and chardonnays. Of course, the wine circles I travel in haven’t issued any opinions or buzz words on this topic yet. So, don’t mention my name if you decide to spread this information around.

Then again, I used to think rosé was fruit punch for the tasteless red states. Now I can’t stop sniffing and swirling the glorious, medium-dry, crisp, balanced, tangy, peppery, fruity, sun-soaked, moon-drenched, strawberry-bouquet-with-a-cherry-on-top.