lulu, hillsider companion

lulu, hillsider companion

Monday, April 6, 2015

More California water (and the lack of it) rant, and 2012 Martinelli "Bella Vignas"pinot noir...

Turns out that we Californians have hit just about every front page in America this past weekend...everyone's ooohing and aaahing over Governor Jerry's water mandate and speculating as to whether the end has come for the Golden State. Not likely, although there's plenty of pain in our future, both immediate and long-term, I'm afraid, most of it of our own making.

Water, unfortunately, like air, is one of those incredibly important things that most of us never give much thought to unless we can't get enough of it.And that includes the folks who we've elected or hired to run our country for us while we do more important stuff, like watch The Real Housewives of Atlanta and puzzle over Kim Kardashian's latest fascinating doings. Frequently we look up from these important pastimes to discover that the people who were supposed to be watching out for us haven't been; they've been watching Housewives, too. That's where we in California find ourselves today.

Here we are in the middle (?) of a historic drought, and surprise!, we discover that our state's leadership has neglected to plan for such a contingency. True, occasional stabs have been taken at pushing such an agenda through Sacramento's rabbit warren of offices, but nothing much ever got done in the end: partisan politics, graft, and other nonsense usually got in the way of the public good, as will happen.

Having said that, we regular folks haven't done much in the way of conservation, either, at least not many of us, and usually not voluntarily. Until very recently, that is, when a few independent thinkers in various scattered industries began to look around and see dark clouds (not rain clouds, however, the other kind); they began to wonder what might happen if a truly serious drought did come along...what if water truly did become a huge and historic issue, when even the farmers of the Delta and Central Valley couldn't get what they needed (not only to support themselves, but California as an entity, depending as it does to such a great degree on its agriculture for food, revenue, jobs, etc.). What the hell would we do then? How would people in New York get salads?

Guess what...welcome to that day. The upside is that the California common man and woman seem to understand the problem far better than the leadership, and to have the intestinal fortitude to respond in a positive "let's pull together" way. Again, far better than the leadership.

As for industry in general, it seems to be responsive, as well, and willing to do its part. Or at least the reports we're seeing indicate as much. As for me, I can only speak for my own little corner of the world, that being the hospitality/golf industry, which I know fairly well, having spent 30+ years of my life immersed in it..What I can tell you is that the golf industry, rather than being the callous, moronic haven for uncaring rich pleasure-seekers that it is typically represented to be, for the past 20 or so plus years has been a leader, hand-in-hand with some of the world's leading universities, in the research and development of new drought-tolerant turfgrass varieties, many of which you see on a daily basis in street and highway medians, on the lawns of public buildings, in parks, and in hundreds, if not thousands, of other locations that contribute to the beauty and serenity of our daily lives. More on this in a soon-to-follow post, but trust me when I tell you that the game of golf and the millions who play and enjoy it have spent much of their treasure to advance the science of a greener world that requires less water to maintain and support. Self-serving? To a degree, yes, but not purely. We (I include myself in the group) could have done what served our selfish purposes at much less expense had we chosen to do so, but didn't. That's not to say that everyone has been on board: they haven't. Hundreds of clubs and courses have gone their merry ways, spraying water in every direction and doing all in their power to find cheaper ways to acquire it. In the world of private clubs, where many of the worst offenders are to be found, too many lazy boards of directors have been ill-served by their management teams, particularly some superintendents, who are the people being paid to properly manage the properties, and have left until too late the opportunities they had to lead, rather than be led, as will happen now.

Anyway, that's enough ranting for tonight; fair warning, though, there's more to come...

In closing, a quick nod to good old Martinelli in Sonoma County for their 2012 "Bella Vignas" Pinot Noir. This wine has been sitting in my racks for a while now, but I just got around to pulling a cork with a beautiful piece of wild-caught king salmon a day or so ago. Lucky me. Another beauty from this old Sonoma family who, with the Foppianos, Rochiolis, and a very few others represent the last of the pioneer winegrower-makers in the Russian River valley. The Bella Vignas wines are Martinelli's effort at producing an approachable "house style" pinot noir and chardonnay from a blend of grapes from several different vineyard sites; they are relatively inexpensive when compared to the single-vineyard small-production wines that the family has built its reputation on, but still pricey (in the $40-50 range) when measured against our standard for "workingman's wines" of no more than $25-30. Nonetheless, we all deserve a treat now and then, so this is one of mine. Medium-to-deep burgundy color, a quick-to-blossom nose of cola, wet earth, and vanilla, and clean and focused cola, bittersweet chocolate, tar, and cinnamon on the palate make for a pretty wine that's drinking well right now, and is classic Russian River Valley in style. For those of you looking to add a big-name California pinot to your wine list at a price that still leaves folks a little room to breathe, this could be your wine. Not sure what distribution looks like, but it's got to be thin given the production limitations (738 cases according to the winery), so you'll probably need to lay in a couple of cases to protect yourself, if you can get it at all. The winery's website is

I'm out for now; water rant to be continued shortly.

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