The November digital edition of Wine Business Monthly is now online. November is the Vineyard issue and we have published the results from the 2013 WBM Vineyard Survey.
We also have a focus on tanks, an industry roundtable on consulting winemakers, and articles on how winemakers are eliminating VA in wine and worker training programs for new technologies.
Below is Editor Cyril Penn's month in review for November:
Water: we’ve been hearing a lot about it, or about a lack thereof, lately, particularly in the West.
Water supplies are severely restricted in California, Washington, Oregon, New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona and Texas, seven of the 13 leading U.S. wine-producing states by volume.
Aquifer levels have fallen in California. A few weeks ago, county supervisors approved an emergency ordinance prohibiting new development or the planting of irrigated crops within the Paso Robles groundwater basin unless water use can be completely offset. Code enforcement officials are already investigating a dozen possible violations of the emergency ordinance.
California lawmakers continue to debate a plan to bypass the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, which transports California water southward, with twin tunnels. Polls show, though, that voters are reluctant to vote for the billions of dollars in bonds that would be required for improving the state’s water infrastructure.
Water is increasingly seen as the biggest potential limiting factor in terms of the wine industry’s growth, a point that was hammered home during the recent Wine Industry Financial Symposium. California doesn’t regulate groundwater use yet, but the writing is on the wall: Experts think state control or at least state monitoring of groundwater use in California is inevitable in the next few years.
This month’s issue includes survey results showing that most growers don’t use plant water status monitoring equipment. Most rely on visual inspections in making irrigation decisions. Previous surveys have shown that many wineries don’t really know how much water they’re using, in the cellar or in the vineyard. It’s one of those cases of the glass being half full. There’s an opportunity for growers to adopt technology that will help them make better decisions that not only affect grape quality, but which will help them manage the water they apply in the vineyard more efficiently.
We’re seeing an end to cheap, plentiful water because demands on the available water supply are increasing: a growing population means more demand for residential use; and increasing environmental regulations require more water allocated for stream flows. The amount of available water is decreasing due to drought conditions and overuse of groundwater aquifers. It’s a long-term trend that won’t be reversed with a few deep snowfalls.
—Cyril Penn, editor
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