Nor Cal Wine Country is Expensive For a Good Reason
You look at the news out the Mosel ("Hailstorms Decimate Mosel") and you must be reminded once again that if you make wine or grow grapes in California, your life is pretty darned good, relative to so many other wine growing regions.
The hail storms in the Mosel were reported to consist of tennis and golf ball sized specimens. Grape crops and vines were reportedly destroyed. This kind of thing simply is not common in California.
Nor does California usually have to deal with the kind of season ending rains that one often sees in Europe's vineyards.
But closer to home, consider the plight of grapegrowers and winemakers in West Texas. According to a recent article, that region's severe drought conditions have left the West Texas winegrowing region without a drop of rain in 11 months…11 months!! Long time Texas grapegrower Bobby Cox puts it this way:
"It's dry. It's really, really, really dry, unbelievably dry. This isn't a weather scenario anyone could have predicted. Vines do respond to stress to a point, but not stress like what we're seeing. The fields we picked this morning … It was a little discouraging."
Then of course there are the East Coast grape growers. Hurricanes? Really? I can't say I've heard any word that grape crops have been devastated by Irene, but I can say that the hurricane likely wasn't a positive for East Coast grape growers.
Folks outside California that I meet in my travels often want to remind me how expensive it is to reside in California, and particularly Northern California Wine Country. They are right. It is expensive. But I'm looking out my window right now and seeing what I almost always see in the morning in August: 67 degrees, sunny blue skies with wisps of fog burning off and the prospect of the temperatures getting up to about 87 degrees with a light breeze.
Come winter I'll likely be able to play golf during the day wearng a light sweater.
Come spring, I'll deal with some rains, but odds are they won't be hurricane-like rains. And the chances of Napa being torn apart by hail this summer or at any time is about as likely as Pinot Noir being planted in Oakville.
Sure, we have earthquakes. Sometimes wild fires. But Golf ball-sized hail? Hurricanes? 11 month droughts? Nope.
There is a reason that houses and the cost of living are expensive here in Northern California Wine Country: It's as close to picture perfect for human beings as they are likely to find anywhere.