Hallowe'en I spent mostly on a barstool, quietly nursing some Hennessey in a mini-snifter at Carlos & Vinny's while friend & Arbor House owner-host Sam wailed on guitar with Blind Monkey. Struck up a conversation with a local firefighter who had broad work experience related to water resource management. I touched a nerve when the issue of vineyard irrigation practices came up: he'd crossed words with a famous Napa vinegrower whose Lake County holdings top the thousand acres. Seems the drip-irrigated, high-density plantings pioneered & favored by the Beckstoffer viticulture machine are a drain on said resources, impairing availability to smaller growers & possibly depleting the water table.
From the Beckstoffer Vineyards website:
'...As a result of his willingness to experiment with closer spacing, innovations in pruning and trellising, and his introduction of drip irrigation, the vineyards of Andy Beckstoffer are some of the most technologically advanced in Napa Valley, and he is in the process of integrating these innovations into Lake County...The conventional wisdom that reasonable quantity and super premium quality are incompatible has been challenged. Canopy management techniques that include new methods in pruning, trellising, and vine spacing have brought improved access to sunlight, resulting in increases in both quality and tonnage. Adding drip irrigation has opened up whole sections of the Carneros region to new plantings. Sustainable agriculture has brought new life to soils and vineyards...' (My emphasis) Arguably, drip irrigation in & of itself can only by a stretch be considered a sustainable practice. In Lake County's Red Hills, from a local perspective that stretch might be close to a breaking point.
(One of the less positive impressions I took home from my discovery of this area was the overwhelming dominance of private property on the lakefront & the curtailment of public access. This acted as a prod to walking a more activistic walk concerning such issues in Puerto Rico...but that is 'flour from a different sack'-- & longterm grist for the blogmill.)