Field Research in the Willamette Valley, Oregon
In 2019 I dove into field work for my PhD dissertation in my home landscape, the Willamette Valley in Oregon. The Willamette Valley is the largest wine grape producing region in Oregon, and has although a small and relatively young wine region globally, it has the reputation for producing high quality "terroir" driven wines. The industry is growing quickly, resulting in social and landscape transformations in the past few decades. Around the world, including wine producing regions, water is a critical resource and climate uncertainty presents considerable risk and vulnerability to freshwater resources.
My research in Oregon (as well as Tasmania) examines how decisions around water resource management create opportunities or barriers to climate adaptation in agricultural wine regions. Climate adaptation in the wine industry is a multi-disciplinary problem that requires multi-disciplinary solutions, and there is a need to strengthen the interface between technical remedies, science, and local & regional governance.
Water resources are shared across regions by stakeholders with varied and sometimes conflicting needs. Planning and management in this context requires multi-level institutional cooperation. My research aims to deepen the understanding of the influences of social and institutional systems in climate adaptation, which is critical for other potential solutions to be sustainable. Results from this research may be used to assist grape growers and rural communities in their efforts to increase resilience to current and future climate challenges.