Climate change may help Oregon's wine industry

Wine symposium focuses on changing climate

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Last year, Oregon's wine industry contributed more than $3.35 billion dollars to the state's economy.

But climate change is impacting the state's winemakers. That was one of the topics at this year's Oregon Wine Symposium.

"The big buzz is that we just came out of two of the warmest years on record and we're likely to have a third," said Greg Jones, a Southern Oregon University professor.

Jones has researched the climate and its impact on Oregon wine. He says all indicators point toward a continually warming climate.

"Oregon has warmed over the past 120-125 years and there's no indication that it's not going to continue," he said.

That could mean earlier bud breaks, greater pressures when it comes to pests and insects, and potentially better wine.

"Warmer years, if we have enough water, can produce higher yields and higher quality," Jones said.

He said it will be up to wine-makers to adapt their practices and change along with the changing climate.

"It really does mean a pretty good situation for Oregon, I think," he said.

Currently there are 676 vineyards in Oregon and the Oregon wine industry has created more than 17,000 jobs in the state.

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