Typically, in Wine Country we only crush grapes. And dreams. Now, however, thanks to new vineyard rules approved by the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors this week, we may also put the squeeze on the vineyards themselves.
At question is soil erosion and the benefit deeply rooting trees provide in this regard. Vineyard owners tend to remove the trees so that they can plant vines, which is now verboten on certain hillsides. It’s a puzzle, fraught with legitimate interests on all sides – from the wine industry to environmentalists and it all points to an inevitable crisis of vineyard space in Sonoma. Don’t think our competitors haven’t been waiting for this moment.
It accounts for the uptick in press releases I’ve been receiving that crow about the latest, greatest wine country that is not ours. Today’s crop includes an email with the enthusiastically punctuated subject, “There Are How Many Sommeliers in Greenville????” and another that opens with the command, “Toast the return of summer on Michigan’s wine coast.” Even the current cover of Sunset magazine crows, “Move over, Napa. This is the hot new wine country.”
Clearly, we’ve got problems if a small city in North Carolina is bragging about its som count and Michigan is now producing wine, not to mention a “coast.” As for Sunset, my interest was sufficiently piqued by their cover teaser that I rifled the pages in search of the “hot new wine country.” I expected it to be Sonoma (finally!). Nada. It’s eastern Washington state.
Now, my winemaking friends may snort and ask rhetorically, “But have you tasted the wines from those places?” To which I’d reply, “No, but have you seen the people from those places? They’re just amazed that ‘This ol’ grape juice here makes ya feel kinda funny, don’t it?’” Yep, you betcha. And there goes some more shelf space at the Circle K.
With the whole of America now muscling in on the wine scene, we’ve got to rev up our game and start flooding the market with product until we dominate. However, this will be problematic since we’re losing arable land for grape-growing. I have a solution. We can grow grapes … hydroponically.
You know, like the pot-growers. In the Springs. I know for a fact that behind closet doors, up in attics and behind false walls in garages, a shadow agricultural scene has been steadily growing – literally – for years. Clearly, these guys know how to economize space, and how to yield the most from their real estate as well as their plants. Perhaps they can teach our grape growers how to increase their yield by planting their next block of cabernet in the spare bedroom.
I can already see the public service announcements: “Are you an empty-nester? Kids off to college? Got square footage to spare? Consider planting a vineyard in Junior’s old room! Just flick on the grow-lights and help save Sonoma County’s wine industry.”
Explaining why wine grapes are legal and marijuana plants are not is not worth the breath one would waste (especially since you’d have to inhale first). Frankly, I think the industries should merge. I mean, is cannabis sauvignon so far fetched a notion? We have the technology…
The fact is, we’re weird about plants around here. It’ll cost you a $500 fine if you pick our state flower, the California poppy. By comparison, it costs about $152 million annually to fund our aerial poppy eradication program in Afghanistan. Albeit, those poppies are the raw ingredients of heroin whereas our poppy’s only offense is that it can occasionally be a shade too orange.
To solve our state budget problems, we should convince the Federal government that California poppies are Afghani poppies, wait for the aerial eradication – then fine them. At $500 a flower our budget crisis would dissipate like a puff of opium smoke. Not to mention the bajillion dollar surplus we can use to buy Michigan, North Carolina and eastern Washington and rename them Sonoma. Then we would have plenty of vineyard space. And trees too. Everybody’s happy.
Except for perhaps our county supervisors who would have to court the vote of a vast new constituency and answer questions like, “There Are How Many Sommeliers in Greenville????”
Daedalus Howell has it on good authority that there are 6 certified sommeliers in Greenville, N.C. He hides from them at DHowell.com.