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As Climate Change Threatens Wine Industry, Standards Stand By


New York, Nov 07, 2011

Global warming could significantly change the face of the U.S. wine industry within 30 years, a recent study from Stanford University indicates. According to the study, higher temperatures threaten to cut California’s premium wine-growing land by up to 50 percent. The findings are based on the assumption that a 23 percent increase in greenhouse gases will raise the average global temperature about 2 degrees Fahrenheit by 2040.

With more than 5 million gallons of wine produced per year, California’s wine industry accounts for roughly 90 percent of the total wine production in the United States. And with the future of the state’s $18.5 billion industry thrown into question, some wineries are beginning to consider cultivating grapes that fare better in warmer climates. This could mean that the Napa Valley – which is currently known for cooler weather varietals such as pinot noir and cabernet sauvignon – may one day produce grapes such as Barbera and Nero d’Avola, which typically thrive in Italy’s warmer clime.

Red, white, sparkling, or still, the wine industry is supported by voluntary standards that oversee vine cultivation and wine making, including the machines used in grape harvesting and pressing. One such standard, ISO 5704:1980, Equipment for vine cultivation and wine making -- Grape-harvesting machinery -- Test methods, specifies test methods for the machines used in all operations involved in grape-harvesting. Meanwhile, ISO 5703:1979, Equipment for vine cultivation and wine making -- Grape presses -- Methods of test, outlines test methods for grape presses, guiding the overall evaluation and inspection for continuous and discontinuous presses.

Both standards were developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Technical Committee (TC) 23, Tractors and machinery for agricultural and forestry. ASABE (American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers), a member and accredited standards developer of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), administers the ANSI-accredited U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) to ISO TC 23. In this role, ASABE is responsible for carrying U.S. positions forward in this area.

Just one of the ways of judging a wine is by its bouquet – the aromatic expression of the wine. Connoisseurs insist that the shape of a wine glass impacts one’s perception of the wine. Thanks to ISO 3591:1977, Sensory analysis -- Apparatus -- Wine-tasting glass, both aficionados and amateurs alike can be sure that their wine glasses are up to snuff. According to the standard, a tasting glass consists of a cup, or "elongated egg," supported by a stem, with the opening of the cup narrower than the convex part so as to concentrate the bouquet. This standard was developed by ISO TC 34, Food products, Subcommittee (SC) 12, Sensory analysis. The AOCS (American Oil Chemists' Society) administers the ANSI-accredited U.S. TAG to ISO TC 34; ASTM International administers the U.S. TAG to ISO TC 34 SC 12.

Of course, the temperature that a wine is served at also affects the way it is appreciated, and recommended temperature ranges differ based on the type of wine. CSA C300-08, Energy Performance and Capacity of Household Refrigerators, Refrigerator-Freezers, Freezers, and Wine Chillers, helps to ensure that a wine is served just right. Developed by ANSI member and accredited standards developer CSA America, this seventh edition of the standard covers the characteristics and performance of refrigerators, freezers, and wine chillers.

So, the next time your raise your glass, be sure to give a toast – to standards!

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