lulu, hillsider companion

lulu, hillsider companion

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

California rain: too much, roo fast, and mostly in the wrong places; another really good sauvignon blanc (I know, I know) for poor people like us, and more golf stuff...

Well, we got some of that rain we've been hoping for; however, as usually happens to us California sinners, it didn't happen exactly as we had expected. What we got was another demonstration that even though the rain gods do have a sense of humor, it's a little skewed from center. Southern California, where very few of the state's major reservoirs reside, got hammered: water fell out of the sky in truckloads, then promptly raced down the drought-and fire-denuded hillsides, gullies, arroyos and canyons and blasted through homes, across roadways (burying hundreds of cars on I 5 in a sea of mud), and generally wreaking havoc before making its way to the ocean and disappearing.

Here in Norcal, however, where all of the state's biggest lakes and reservoirs sit virtually bone dry, just waiting for a Big Gulp, we got sprinkles and mist and one three or four minute deluge early Saturday morning that vanished into the parched earth so quickly that if you hadn't been awake to see it happen, you'd have no way of knowing that it did. And, to top it all off, those forecasters who are promising us a powerful El Nino this winter are also now saying that the rains it brings will likely be concentrated in the southern part of the state rather than way up here in the lonely and forsaken north, where we actually have the capacity to store it as water or, in the mountains, as snowpack. Thank you, rain gods, for another good laugh. We can only hope that if you see how hard we're trying to change our ways and be better people maybe you'll give us a break on this and move a few of those storms north of the Bay. . Just sayin'...

 Okay. Moving on. I'm reasonably certain that many of you are getting tired of reading about sauvignon blanc here, and I promise to lighten up after today. Problem is, sb is, like zinfandel, one of the few places to look in today's market for really good wines at honest prices, although I'm also seeing some new activity in petite sirah, tepranillo, pinot noir and gewurztraminer from developing (or not-yet-gentrified) growing areas in California and Oregon, as well as some very good, inexpensive reds from South Africa and Portugal. But, having said all that, I still have to congratulate the folks at SeaGlass for their 2014 Sauvignon Blanc Santa Barbara. Bright, fresh, aromatic, and lots of true sb fruit make for a nice white that's versatile enough to carry off cocktail duty before serving as an excellent accompaniment to everything from roast chicken to seafood gumbo. And, at $9.99 on sale, it's not only reasonable but a steal; I'd buy it up to $13 and feel good about it.

Back to golf for a minute. I ripped the good folks operating golf courses in Maricopa County, Arizona, in my last post for what was reported to be an unconscionable consumption of water in the maintenance and upkeep of those facilities. I'm not backing off that criticism, I want to be clear about that. However, I do want to mitigate what I wrote to a degree. After re-reading Ms. Shaffer's article, and trying to get all the details organized as best I could, I couldn't arrive at what I considered a fair idea of exactly how to interpret what I was seeing. For one thing, the article was written in such a way that it was unclear whether the 80 million gallons/day figure applied strictly to Maricopa County courses or to all those included in the "Phoenix area" which consists, apparently, of two other counties as well as Maricopa. Nor was I able to determine (or find anywhere else I looked) how many courses lie within Maricopa; according to the Arizona Golf Association there are 220 in the "Phoenix area", but exactly what that means, I don't know. Also, how many of that 220 are full 18 hole courses or equivalent? Again, don't know and can't find out without a lot of time and effort, which I don't have right now. One thing is certain: even though Arizona is a golf mecca for many, there ain't 220 regulation 18 hole golf layouts in any three counties, so we can put that aside. And, no natter how you try to explain it, 80 million gallons of water per day is an absurd number, and people need to get a grip on themselves. Maybe it's time for the operators in the area to give some serious thought to taking a more worldly approach to their management practices and begin looking at how many courses in other challenging climatic areas are maintained and presented. Sooner or later we're going to have to find a way to wean our playing population off the "Augusta mentality" that permeates American golf culture, particularly at the private club level. There are a number of designers, owners, managers, and superintendents who understand this and who have been trying to spread the gospel for years, but progress has been verrrrry slow, and resistance remains verrrrrrrry strong,particularly in most affluent clubs. The day of reckoning is approaching, though; water rights holders in California are already beginning to understand that they don't hold the sacred documents they always believed they did, and times are going to get tougher before they get better, if they ever do get better.

Time use our heads and get ahead of the curve, boys and girls. More to come...

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