“You can’t rush good wine” ~ Ringo Garza
There was a time when California vintners grew vines primarily using a method called dry farming, which is still the preferred method of grape growing in Europe.
In the 1980s, California growers began replacing drought-resistant rootstock with rootstock that requires sustained watering—which allowed them to plant 1,200 vines per acre, as opposed to the usual 600 (for vines that get their water only through natural precipitation).
Bottom line, the irrigation required to grow the grapes that lead to our great California wine is—well, depleting our essential resources in the most biodiverse state in the country.
Irrigated vineyards arguably interfere with the best interests of our water sources, wildlife and fish habitat. When we bulldoze our oak woodlands or plow up our chapparal, or drain our aquifers, we are paying far more for our wine pleasures then the price on the bottle.
Much of California’s true wealth is in her magnificent and wildly varied eco-regions. So, when it comes to growing grapes and drinking great wines, let’s think about doing so in such a way that not only produces complex, delicious varietals, but also doesn’t drain our water sources—lakes, rivers and tributaries—destroy wildlife habitat and add more plants and animals to the endangered species list.
May our goblets runneth over—not only with superb wine, but with all the varied and rich experiences that California has to offer. Salud!
Purple-stippled landscape glows against a backdrop of
Sun-drenched, lime-green vines
cast a blinding light
Blue-violet droplets hang heavy—
sags of promised delight,
a film of dust covers their sumptuousness,
shy Haitian maidens peer out
behind nature’s curtain.
Past where the gravel road curves ‘round
past the place where horizon slides into its burgundy bath
Is a dark, sacred place where annals
of history are etched into stone
well below green-saturated hills
streaked in shiraz hues,
hills once home to foxes,
bobcats and quail.
fill my ears with
sounds from bygone years
where underground aquifers
flowed, nurseries to
now a burdened silence,
a forbidden story, longing for
its once vibrant habitat now
bled out to support
lush droplets filled with a heady,
potent elixir, awaiting transformation into
an ice breaking, social libation.
Author: Melanie Jackson
Image: Cliffs Resort, used with permission
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina