Washington Correspondent Brian O'Donovan takes a look at how the wine industry in California's Napa Valley is trying to adapt to the new realities of climate change as winemakers prepare for longer and more severe wildfire seasons.
Workers are busy getting ready for wildfire season at the Bravante Vineyards in Napa Valley, California.
A tractor lawnmower passes between the rows of vines removing the yellow, dry grass that would act as a dangerous fuel should the flames reach the property.
Climate change is having a big impact on the wine region of Napa Valley, California. Vineyards have to prepare for longer wildfire seasons, while winemakers are trying to cope with hotter conditions. @BrianOD_News looks at how the industry is adapting | https://t.co/OzE8TjRqry pic.twitter.com/gNvc30iw1G— RTÉ News (@rtenews) June 9, 2021
Peter Murphy is the vineyard manager and says wildfire season will likely come early this year, due to the current drought conditions.
"Right now, we are doing mostly weed control so there is no dry tinder and fire materials when wildfire season comes," he says.
"That usually starts in August but this year is really dry, so we anticipate it starting earlier than that."
The Bravante Vineyards escaped last year's devastating wildfires but only just.
"The fire came right up to our retaining wall. The California Fire Department cleaned it up and the winds changed to a favourable direction which was very good for us. Other wineries didn't do so well," Mr Murphy said.
Climate change is having a big impact on the world-famous wine region of Napa Valley.
Vineyards have to prepare for longer and more severe wildfire seasons while winemakers are trying to cope with hotter conditions and smoke-tainted grapes.
The winemaker at Bravante Vineyards, Mabel Ojeda, opened a large wooden barrel and removed a sample of the red wine blend inside.
She took time to smell and taste the contents of her glass before smiling and nodding her approval.
Winemakers, like Ms Ojeda, are trying to come up with new ways of overcoming the problem of smoke taint by altering production and fermentation processes.
"If you get an ashy aftertaste, you don't enjoy that flavour, so this is kind of smoke taint components that we are trying to deal with.," she says.
"We are learning and experimenting, trying to understand the nature of these components and work out ways of dealing with this flavour in the glass of wine," she said.
Jim Robins is a captain with the California Fire Department and says that vineyards can act as firebreaks that slow the advance of wildfires.
"They usually have roads around them that are used by their maintenance people and when they turn their sprinklers on it does help," said Mr Robins.
"But when the power is out in the area, those sprinklers don't work. If there's grass in a vineyard, the fire will get hold of it and run right through the grapes."
With record temperatures, drought and a fast-approaching wildfire season, climate change dominates conversations in this region right now.
Concerns and worries that echo through the Napa Valley and are heard through the grapevines.