First published on the Earth Institute website on May 5, 2011
Vintners in the Burgundy region of France have been tracking their harvests since the 14th century, and they know as well as anyone the importance of picking their grapes at just the right moment to produce the best possible glass of Pinot noir.
Now, a team of scientists has found a way to look at sea surface temperatures in the North Atlantic and pinpoint that optimal harvest date six months in advance.
“If you’re a decision-maker in Burgundy involved with the wine industry … you could look early during the year, you could see what kind of patterns we have with the sea surface temperature, what kind of winter we had, and you could prepare yourself for a timing of the harvest date end of August, beginning of September,” says Yves M. Tourre, a senior research scientist at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. Tourre spends most of his time at work for Meteo-France, the French national meteorological service, in Toulouse.