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Threatened by climate change, California winemaker Robin Lail switches to carbon farming and hopes more vineyards join

For California winemakers in general, this year’s vintage conditions posed an existential threat — not just from fires but from drought and excessive heat.

“How do we continue to make wine under these conditions? More importantly, how does the wine industry dive into the problem of climate change and do its part?” For Lail Vineyards, it means carbon farming. Cover crops between vine rows, no tilling in the vineyard. No gas vehicles — sheep trim the cover crop in the spring.

Lail has fashioned herself as an ambassador for the Porto Protocol, a spokesperson championing the organization’s climate change work to her U.S. colleagues.

Lail expresses a personal frustration that these efforts against climate change aren’t unified. But she says she hopes the rising chorus will get its message through.

“It was ‘We the People’ who stopped the Vietnam War, a loud voice from the mass of humanity in this country,” she says. “I believe, honestly, that voice in climate change is getting louder and louder.”


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