Will Napa Valley Always Be Famous for Cabernet Sauvignon?

California's Napa Valley is to Cabernet Sauvignon what the Valley of the Kings is to Egyptology, but wine producers are now worried that the whole area could become a graveyard for grapes.

California's famous Cabernet Sauvignon is under threat from warming temperatures.
California's famous Cabernet Sauvignon is under threat from warming temperatures.

The region has been warming by approximately 2 degrees Fahrenheit (1.1 °C) every decade, creating a dangerous imbalance in an industry that survives on stability.

Now, grape growers are going to great lengths to save California's $160-billion wine industry, from creating a new type of Cabernet variety that can thrive in the novel climate to developing shade nets and revamping how seeds are planted.

One grape grower, Andy Beckstoffer, told CBS News about the potentially devastating problems brought about by the warming trend. "We have bugs we never heard of. We have diseases we never heard of. We've changed the way we farm because of it."

While outside experts have stepped in to help, such as researchers at UC-Davis, any successful plan takes time -- but optimists like Beckstoffer see hope in the hard work. "We'll use that data to not only fight climate change," Beckstoffer said. "But in the best spot, hopefully to improve the wine quality. That's the big deal."

The wine world and Cabernet:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon is the most-planted wine grape on Earth; France leads the way, with almost 136,000 acres (55,000 hectares).

  • In 1976, California shocked the wine world by winning the Judgment of Paris blind tasting contest.

  • The tannins in Cabernet "scrape" fat and proteins from a drinker's tongue, making the wine ideal for pairing with steak.

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