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Grape-harvest dates hold climate clues

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7:34pm, November 5, 2001

The vintner's age-old habit of picking no grapes before their time may give scientists a tool for determining European climate patterns for the past 500 years.

Grapevines are particularly sensitive to the temperature and amounts of precipitation they're exposed to at various phases of their 2-year fruit-production cycle. A pair of French researchers contend that an analysis of the yearly grape-harvest dates in Europe could help climatologists fill in the blanks of the continent's postmedieval climate records.

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