Our biggest story over the last week has been rain. We've received measurable amounts each day since last Sunday, totaling 3.6 inches at our weather station out here. Even better, that rain has come spread out, with five different days producing between 0.48 inches and 1.19 inches. The distributed nature of the rainfall has meant that it's all soaked in and we're seeing virtually no runoff. And after a break this weekend, there's more rain on the horizon for late next week. In this week's weekly roundup, we start with a look at our recent rain, and move back in time from there.
- Despite the wet week, the Central Coast is only slightly above historical norms for this time of year, according to an interesting piece by SpaceRef, which used NASA data to plot California's rainfall from space. The above graphic, showing average daily precipitation compared to normal for the Nov 4-Dec 4 period, is just one cool map in the article. Read more »
The Origins of Human Alcohol Consumption, Revealed
- According to a new study published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, our ability (relatively unique to humans and other great apes) to digest ethanol came about 10 million years before we started to produce it ourselves. The genetic mutation allowed us to derive more nutrition from the fallen fruit our ancestors were scavenging off forest floors at the time. Read more »
Celebrating Repeal Day: December 5th
- 81 years ago on Friday, the ratification of the 21st Amendment ended Prohibition and re-legalized the sale of alcohol in the United States. I quite enjoyed George Yatchisin's exploration of California's Wine History on KCET, which looks at how the vineyards that survived prohibition did so, and some of the repercussions we're still feeling today.
Beauty Shot of the Week: Castoro's Rainbow
- One consequence of this week's rain was widespread rainbows. I tried but failed to take some good shots out at Tablas Creek, but this photo from Castoro Cellars' Facebook page is spectacular. If you don't follow them already on social media, you should: their photography is consistently beautiful. I particularly love this time of year, with the hillsides turning greener by the day and the air soft and cool. If you haven't been out to Paso in the winter, it's wonderful, and wonderfully different from summer's stark, crisp precision.
Food for Thought (Beverage for Thought?): a Growing Trend Toward Wine and Away from Beer
- The Washington Post published an interesting article comparing the changes since 1992 of Americans' preferences between beer, wine, and hard alcohol. I think that the headline ("The Great Beer Abandonment") overstates the case a bit, but the trends for wine (right) are clearly healthy. Not only are young people preferring wine more than the previous generation did, but each generation's wine preference continues to grow steadily as its members move through their 30's, 40's and 50's.
- Those continued trends are why I've thought that some of the recent hand-wringing within the wine industry about the rise of craft beer is misplaced. In fact, I'd think that for a craft winery (the term doesn't really exist, but should) seeing craft beer's increasing importance in the market would be encouraging, as younger consumers who are exposed to the creativity and individuality of craft beers would already have much of the vocabulary to understand wine. This idea probably deserves a full blog post. Stay tuned.
- Finally in this vein, I found the snapshot of the current American wine consumer, published this week by Wine Business Monthly, worthwhile reading. It showed the growth of (but still relatively small penetration of) social media in wine purchase decision-making, the continued popularity of grapes we don't think much about like White Zin and Pinot Grigio, and the relative unimportance to consumers of wineries' environmental practices. A good reminder of the work there still is to do! Read more »