In California’s Russian River Valley, Ryan Kunde of DRNK Wines and Kunde Family Vineyards grows 20 varietals of wine, focusing on Pinot Noir. However, the mounting impact of climate change will continue to alter his business, from grape yields, to wine acidity, to water availability. Of crops susceptible to the small changes in temperature, grapes are one of the most impacted , with yield altered by up to 32.5% in a given year . As Earth warms, grape harvest has accelerated, shifting earlier in the season by up to a month . These temperature changes can “make the difference between a poor, good, and excellent vintage”, driven by lower acidity, higher sugar concentration, and altered flavor and mouthfeel . More broadly, “winegrape production occurs within very narrow climate ranges” of about 10 degrees C globally (and a narrower 2 degree range for Pinot Noir) ; resultantly, climate change could eliminate two-thirds of grape production and viticulture-suited areas could decrease by 25-73% by 2050 .
Closely monitoring grape maturation timing, insect infestation, and crop density can vastly improve DRNK Wines’ product quality, yields, profits, and waste. To improve performance related to climate change setbacks but not solely because of them, Ryan has turned to drones. Drones in wine-making and agriculture help assess plant vigor , detect crop damage done by insects , reduce fertilizer and water use , increase yields, save time, compare land plots over time , and determine harvest timing . For instance, Ryan highlights in this brief video how he uses aerial imaging to identify a segment of crop with accelerated maturation, which enables him to alter harvest schedules accordingly, maximizing crop yield and grape flavor .
Exhibit A: A Short Video of a Drone Surveying Ryan Kunde’s Vineyard 
While aerial imaging has been possible for a while, drone technology has improved rapidly over the past five years making imaging under cloud-cover possible at lower cost, unobstructed, and on demand . Hardware has come a long way, though still could benefit from more miniaturization, lightening, and affordability . Infrared technology helps differentiate healthy and distressed plants.
Exhibit B: “An NDVI image showing crop health in a vineyard” 
Software and analytics should see rapid improvements in the coming years, as artificial intelligence and image processing advancements become increasingly sophisticated , and as the analysis takeaways become more actionable . Today, though, farmers derive significant value from drone technology’s ability to automate flight paths to cover a specific route and replicate said route, to stitch together images, to geolocate (even down to the centimeter!), and to build 3D crop models . The burgeoning discipline of precision agriculture will usher in many capabilities in adapting crop production to climate change  beyond the improvements in yields and issue identification seen today, making the capabilities more sophisticated and accessible.
Many additional tactics exist, which DRNK Wines could employ to try to withstand climate change’s impact. First, DRNK could utilize chamber systems or polyethylene sleeves to regulate temperature. Second, farmers could consider different north-south row orientations to moderate exposure to afternoon sun . Additionally, given sugar-level increases to wine mentioned earlier, wine makers can use “more alcohol-tolerant yeast strains” in fermentation to compensate . Alternatively, if drastic temperature changes occur, wineries will have to relocate towards the poles; while not all estimates are this severe, one study found that the U.S. “could lose up to 81% of its premium winegrape acreage” due to climate change by 2100 .
Thus, the viniculture and agriculture industries will be hit significantly by global warming. The effects have already started: experts predict 2016 to have a 5% fall in wine production due to “climactic events” and to be the lowest winegrape production year in the last twenty years . The predictions only indicate that the impact gets worse from here. So, I ask you: can you do without your wine? Would you be willing to shell out big bucks if prices increased in a global wine shortage? Do you have other ideas to help viniculture thrive in a warmed world?
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