In Napa Valley, Winemakers Fight Climate Change on All Fronts

Practically speaking, that means promoting programs in both English and Spanish to reduce water use, promote soil health and life, establish habitats for beneficial wildlife, diminish the need for tractor work and prevent the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere from the soil. So far, Ms. Williams said, her members have been receptive.

“Farmers are naturally risk-averse, and climate is pretty risky,” she said. “The climate discussion can sometimes get pulled into the political vortex, but one thing that makes Napa special is that there is a dedication to the climate cause and finding solutions, irrespective of political stances.”

Even so, the pace of agricultural change is slow, no matter how urgent. The group has initiated tests to determine how farming without tilling the soil affects carbon savings and water use, which is a crucial issue in Napa. Many farmers would like not to till, which they know keeps carbon from being released into the atmosphere, but they say they would then need to irrigate more.

The trials cannot move faster than the seasons, however.

“Grape growing is always a practice in foresight,” said Ms. Williams, who is a daughter-in-law of John Williams of Frog’s Leap. “We know that vineyards have the capacity to sequester carbon. Any local solutions we invest in here and share with the global community, we have a chance to make a difference.”

It’s not all pilot programs and experiments. The group already urges members to compost, a far better alternative to the traditional practice of burning vine cuttings and a proven method of sequestering carbon. If nothing else, it may come back to Mr. Williams’s term, enlightened self-interest.

“We know that good grapes and good wine comes from land that is living and thriving,” Ms. Williams said.