April Articles & Resources & $200k of Irrigation Funding

A bunch of free government money, plus who's this scowling man on the wall?

“Always take the initiative. There is nothing wrong with spending a night in a jail cell if it means getting the shot you need. Send out all your dogs and one might return with prey. Beware of the cliché. Never wallow in your troubles; despair must be kept private and brief. Learn to live with your mistakes. Study the law and scrutinise contracts. Expand your knowledge and understanding of music and literature, old and modern. Keep your eyes open. That roll of unexposed celluloid you have in your hand might be the last in existence, so do something impressive with it. There is never an excuse not to finish a film. Carry bolt cutters everywhere. Thwart institutional cowardice. Ask for forgiveness, not permission. Take your fate into your own hands. Don’t preach on deaf ears. Learn to read the inner essence of a landscape. Ignite the fire within and explore unknown territory. Walk straight ahead, never detour. Learn on the job. Manoeuvre and mislead, but always deliver. Don’t be fearful of rejection. Develop your own voice. Day one is the point of no return. Know how to act alone and in a group. Guard your time carefully. A badge of honour is to fail a film-theory class. Chance is the lifeblood of cinema. Guerrilla tactics are best. Take revenge if need be. Get used to the bear behind you

-Werner Herzog on Film Making-

For all our new subscribers, this is a regular piece we put out with a collection of Articles & Resources (at the bottom), with all kinds of news, resources and interesting bits to read.

To lead into that, we have a few other sections. Including some new funding announced by the government, and a short piece on why we might look to the filmmaker Werner Herzog in trying times.

Table of Contents

 
  1. The Myth of Werner Herzog

  2. $200k of Irrigation Funding

  3. Trouble for the BC Wine Industry

  4. Our Smart Irrigation System

  5. Articles & Resources

There is a scowling man in our house.

Back when I was first married, in our small apartment, I’d placed his portrait directly opposite the washroom door. Guests would have a moment of unfeigned shock as they stepped out and were confronted by this image staring them in the eyes.

Now he guards the front door.

Visiting friends always ask – “that ugly picture, is that your grandfather?”

No.

It’s Werner Herzog, film maker and utter genius. “Well, why the hell is he on your wall?”

Herzog embodies something wonderful and magical about life. He very likely is, in person, as banal and repetitive as the rest of us. But in story – he is a wonder.

He was shot by an air rifle during an interview and did not flinch. He threatened the infamous actor Klaus Kinski with a cocked gun for a murder-suicide if he touched a radio knob. Just for film – just for a film – he literally moved a ship over a mountain. When in an airplane, seemingly about to crash, he refused the pilot’s order to get in crash position stating “If we’re all going to perish,” I told the pilot, “I want to see what’s coming at me. If we survive, I also want to see it.” He grew up in poverty in post-WW II Germany, playing with abandoned Nazi submachine guns, and built his film career on a love and knowledge of life. And his films are usually weird, and yet they got made – often with him working long hours to afford basic equipment (unless he stole it)!

Werner Herzog the myth (I do not wish to know the man) shows that it is possible to live with a wonder and crashing intensity even against concrete obstacles. To create enchanting and beautiful and ugly and honest things. It is and was not easy – it is painful and slow and failure is always beside you.

Herzog was poor, destitute, and through will and luck and help and vision, created something wondrous. It took years and decades, but it happened and kept happening. Can I then not also create something wondrous? Can you?

Life right now is not easy. It’s not easy for our industry, nor for our country. There are many individuals that are suffering because of what’s happening – or because of some other mundane and painful event in their life. I hear the angst and frustration and sadness, and I’m sure you do too.

I have no answer. But I hope the fact that Werner Herzog exists – with the wonderful stories of his life and films – provides some encouragement. Amazing, unexpected, glorious acts are possible. Where things begin is not where they end.

I’ll leave you here with the rebellions of Zorba the Greek.

“I’m white on top already, boss, and my teeth are getting loose. I’ve no time to lose. You’re young, you can still afford to be patient. I can’t. But I do declare, the older I get the wilder I become! Don’t let anyone tell me old age steadies a man! Nor that when he sees death coming he stretches out his neck and says: Cut off my head, please, so that I can go to heaven! The longer I live, the more I rebel. I’m not going to give in; I want to conquer the world!”

 

If you’d like to be quickly amused, you can view here his musings on the vileness of the Amazon jungle or the nihilist penguin.

If you’re interested in his films, two personal favourites are Aguirre, the Wrath of God with Klaus Kinski or Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans with Nicholas Cage. His two most popular documentaries, both wonderful, are Grizzly Man and The Cave of Forgotten Dreams.

Trouble for the BC Wine Industry

 

Well, that goes without saying. But I won’t be touching on this more right now as I want to keep this piece a little more upbeat (if you find the insanity of Herzog as exciting as I do!), and practically focused.

But three very brief comments:

  1. With the complexity of what’s happening, we’re looking for different viewpoints to share. There are no simple answers and the more information we have the better. If you have a quality piece in you – feel free to reach out. My agenda is straightforward: whatever actions will lead to higher quality BC wine and more profitable businesses for wineries and farms.
  2. Fundamentally, we cannot weaken what it means to be “BC wine” both in terms of actual quality and with the public. With our unavoidably high input costs, anything that weakens our collective brand is a huge threat. Decisions we make now have the power to turn BC back into a wine backwater – or catapult us into the next tier.
  3. The recent Save-On decision by the WGBC board was a travesty. The speed it went from “This is out of the blue” to “We’ve formed a new agreement” was comical. If you’re a winery or grower, I hope you’re angry. Do something about it. I am.

More to come.

 

Irrigation BMP Funding Opening Today

 

Some major irrigation funding is opening up today (April 2nd). Key facts:

  • Funding up to $200k

  • 75% cost share (amazing)

  • Covers a wide range of irrigation activities, from ponds to irrigation upgrades to sensors/weather stations, and more

  • You can begin working on your submission April 2nd.

  • Application for submissions opens April 15 at 9 a.m.

If you want to secure funding. you must submit on April 15th. Grant money is disappearing very fast right now.

The program can be found here.

We’ve also put together a detailed document to help walk through the program. You can contact [email protected] if you are would like some assistance.

Our Smart Irrigation System

We’ve come to believe that the highest leverage point for quality wine and acceptable yields is with irrigation. With all our soil mapping, consulting work and our own education this is the piece we see as delivering the highest return for growers and wineries.

Want to lower alcohol content? Speed up ripening? Improve berry quality? Build climate resiliency? Improve sustainability? Reduce labour? On and on, the strongest mover is smartly used irrigation.

That’s why we’ve been working with companies like Fruition Sciences – and also why we’ve developed our own irrigation platform.

The goal is to place the right information, at the right time, into the hands of the farmer, in a way that is customised to each site and still easy-to-use by a team of people.

If you’re interested in learning more, contact [email protected].

 

 

Articles & Resources

 

In the Farm & In the Cellar

The French Connection: Vineyards and Biodiversity Conference in Avignon Yields Insights on Resilience
Some short, helpful comments.

Climate Models can’t Explain 2023’s Huge Heat Anomaly
We don’t have an answer (yet).

Brain on Winemaking: Mastering Minerality
As Mr. Brain says, the link between minerality in the soil and in the glass is tenuous.

Washington Growers Diversify after Chateau Ste. Michelle Cuts Back on Grape Sourcing
“It is giving us an opportunity to learn and explore (pressured or not) about the complexity and diversity of climates and varietals in the state of Washington – allowing us to refocus, adapt, and progress as a high-quality, authentic, and original wine region.”

Building Resiliency Into the Grower
On physical and mental well being.

The Subtle Tweaks and New Techniques Transforming Nebbiolo
Fun, pretty, and if you’re a winemaker may give you some ideas.

Why Many of the Best Wines Come from High Elevation Vineyards
The reasons are very context dependent.

Why Winemakers are Battling Extreme Terroirs
This should be encouraging. Extremes bring complexity.

Is the Best Non-Alcoholic Wine We Tasted Even… Wine?
No.

Latest Research Findings on Regenerative Viticulture
A nice summary.

Can New Hybrids Make Great Wines?
If you’re honest – not yet. And modern hybrids, bred for disease resistance and palatability, lose other traits like cold hardiness.

 

The Wine Business

Market Worries Percolate to the Vineyard
A very detailed piece I’d strongly encourage you to read. American focused, but it shares many of the challenges and opportunities we have north of the border.

Global Wine Glut Compounds Headaches for Struggling California Vineyards
In BC, we were headed for a glut (hence all the current stock). Mother Nature had other ideas.

Is Non-Alcoholic Retailer Boisson Shutting Down?
I don’t think this reflects a change in the current trend. Likely more specific to Boisson’s own operations.

The True Cost of Ingredient Labelling
I’m a big fan of labelling. A QR code is the easy way.

Interactive Packaging is Having a Moment
Some other examples of what can be done.

Wine’s Next Price Shock
Andy is talking about UK wine – but again the same issues we see in here. A good reminder most of our challenges are partially global.

Imported Foreign Bulk Wine: The Dirty Secret No One In California Wine is Talking About
This is a major warning for us. We all know some rules that are currently skirted.

Can the Wine Industry Adapt to the ‘Lifestyle Generations’?
Wine always rebounds. When, is up to us.

China Bucks the Gen-Z Wine Trend
A lesson?

Embrace the Bad Wine News
“…reveals a growing view among younger people that alcohol is “poison.”” But hard alcohol is not (ha!). This is a marketing issue and we’re in the stone ages. Summarizes partly this piece.

Decreasing Wine Consumption Nearly (But Not Quite) Everywhere
As a friend said, it’s a marketing issue. Wine and alcohol will rebound. When? Probably when Millennials and Gen Z still have health issues as they age.

With British Columbia Needing Wine Grapes, Washington Offers Assistance
My comment on LinkedIn: look at how organized WA is. Multiple levels of government and organizations working together. It took the WGBC weeks to even organize town halls.

How Neo-Prohibitionists Came to Shape Alcohol Policy
A really talked about piece. A good read.

 

Fun!

Why Are Champagne and Fried Chicken So Great Together?
Alright, something to try.

Scientists Prove Drinking Good Wine ‘Makes you Happier’
My n=1 agrees.

The Fight Over Moderate Drinking: Why Studies on Effects are Unlikely to Happen
As someone who reads lots of studies, and who’s wife works in medical research, the WTO and associated groups have been playing fast and loose with science.

The $9.5 Million Hangover
Another wine scam.