ST. HELENA, Calif. — Last September, a wildfire tore through one of Dario Sattui’s Napa Valley wineries, destroying millions of dollars in property and equipment, along with 9,000 cases of wine.
November brought a second disaster: Mr. Sattui realized the precious crop of cabernet grapes that survived the fire had been ruined by the smoke. There would be no 2020 vintage.
A freakishly dry winter led to a third calamity:
Photo: Don Lundgren’s family ranch sits next to the Chewuch River. Lundgren hoped to sell water rights to Crown Columbia for potential use beyond the Methow Valley, in the distance. (Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times)
WINTHROP, Okanogan County — Follow the water and you’ll find the money.
That’s how it often works in the dusty rural corners of Washington, where a Wall Street-backed firm is staking an ambitious venture
Linda Johnson-Bell makes the case for ‘Dry-Farming’
As water becomes more scarce, the wine industry will come under more and more pressure to stop irrigating and move towards completely sustainable water management and usage. Linda Johnson-Bell is a wine author and critic who sees the writing on the wall for producers who tap water supplies to irrigate what is essentially a luxury product.
A good example of this is the
Harvard University’s endowment is reportedly buying up vineyards in California’s wine country, along with the water rights belonging to those properties.
Instead of making the land purchases in its own name, Harvard is using a wholly owned subsidiary—named Brodiaea after the scientific name for the cluster lily —to buy vineyards. Harvard created Brodiaea in 2012, and by 2015 the unit had already purchased 10,000 acres in Santa Barbara and San
Costa Vineyards in Lodi is successfully using groundwater recharge in this 14-acre Zinfandel block. Photo: Ted Rieger
Groundwater is a major source of irrigation water for California agriculture and is increasingly being managed and regulated to address the overdrafting of aquifers in many of the state’s groundwater basins. The ability to capture and store water for future use through groundwater recharge on existing farmlands has been demonstrated in recent years,