I've been browsing through How to Read Water: Clues and Patterns from Puddles to the Sea, by Tristan Gooley (The Experiment, 2016, 400 pages, $20). There's nothing in the book about wine, per se, but anyone with an interest in viticulture will know how critical bodies of water and precipitation are to it. Gooley is the author of The Lost Art of Reading Nature's Signs and The Natural Navigator; hikers, campers and stargazers are his target audience, but with water making headlines in California wine country last week, his newest title might be of interest to vintners too.
Northern California has been deluged with rain since this past Friday, and with that, its immediate water woes have evaporated. But they will persist in the long term. The main reason is that California is more or less a vast desert, albeit one with a potentially (and once) rich water supply.
A double-barreled storm that began this past weekend has soaked much of the state, boosting the critical snowpack in the Sierra, filling reservoirs and sending rivers and streams to flood levels. It makes the accumulation of water appear easy.
I visited Lewis Cellars last October, a few days after we'd selected the Lewis 2013 Napa Valley Cabernet as Wine Spectator's 2016 Wine of the Year. I couldn't say a word about it, even though I wanted to, but disguised my visit as a way to fill in a few details about them and their wine.
Debbie Lewis knew she had cancer and was facing impossible odds. Randy had told me she was ill but didn't let on to the fullest extent. I'm not sure if he wanted to face that reality; he wasn't sure she would be up for the visit.