March 24, 2010
Host: Ted Simons
“Blood into Wine”
- This new film documents efforts to create great wines in Arizona. Hear from Ryan Page, a co-director of the film, and one of its featured winemakers, Eric Glomski of Page Springs/Arizona Stronghold Vineyards.
- Ryan Page - co-director "Blood into Wine"
- Eric Glomski - Page Springs/Arizona Stronghold Vineyards
Ted Simons: "Blood Into Wine" is a new film about a rock star's attempt to grow wine in Arizona's Verde Valley. The film documents how Arizona winemaker Eric Glomski helped guide the effort. Glomski learned years ago that Arizona is quite capable of producing quality wines.
Excerpt from film: In the early '90s, I graduated from Prescott College with a degree in ecology but specialized in river ecology. One of my first big contracts was to do an inventory of perennial streams in the Prescott National Forest and in two years I must have hiked thousands of river miles. Without error there was always a quince tree, apple, pear there and at the time, I was already making beer and I got interested in the fruit and I got excited about getting some of the heirloom apples I got on my hikes, taking them out, pressing them, and making apple wine. I'll never forget the first whiff I had of that apple wine. It brought me back there I could smell those grasses and hear the babbling brook, and smell the ponderosas. And this was the moment that made me into a winemaker.
Ted Simons: The rock star profiled in the film, Maynard James Keenan of the band "Tool," says growing grapes on a small plot of land in the Verde Valley required a lot of faith.
Excerpt from film: If this is what we can get out of this soil, letting the soil speak for itself, then anything is possible. It's taken about nine years, contemplating the areas where we could plant, breaking ground, navigating local politics to even break ground, very hands on. Very small sight,just under 600 vines on the spot. No one in their right mind would plant a vineyard with less than six acres or 10 acres, because financially it's just as easy to farm 100 acres as it is 10 acres. So to farm half an acre is just kind of silly. But the location is special. The Vineyard itself is special. It's worth taking the risk, basically.
Ted Simons: Joining me now to talk about the film, "Blood Into Wine" is co-director, Ryan Page. And Eric Glomski, the owner of Page Springs Cellars. Good to have you both on the program. Thanks for joining us.
Ryan and Eric: Thank you.
Ted Simons: As a filmmaker you are, congratulations because getting a film done is no easy task. What were you looking at? Was this rock star as underdog kind of thing?
Ryan Page: Well, it was. With my partner, we primarily make music documentaries so it was our last film, the Heart of a Drum Machine,that we want to visit Maynard and interview him there. And I was thinking about making a wine film for quite some time and it kind of connected when we saw it.
Ted Simons: When you make a film, you're looking to get X, when it's done, sometimes you've got Y. Anything change in the final product?
Ryan Page: Yeah, a lot changed. What I hadn't realized about winemaking, Eric can explain, but it's 99% hard labor. I hadn't realized that. A lot of people think that winemakers sit and pontificate amongst the vines and it's not that. It's farming really and these guys do a great job.
Ted Simons: It sounds like this is a good hard push for Arizona as winemaking country. You obviously feel that way. What makes you feel that way? Why has Arizona that potential?
Eric Glomski: I think most people who don't live here especially, maybe even some who do, don't realize how diverse Arizona is from the landscape perspective. You drive from Phoenix to Flagstaff to get a perspective on how diverse Arizona is. And so I'm confident if you look at all of these different elevations in our state, you can grow about any wine grape in the planet here. It's all about elevation.
Ted Simons: Is it all about elevation? Or a lot to do with just plain dirt. The difference between Napa and Sonoma and northern Arizona and even southern Arizona.
Eric Glomski: I'm a firm believer in -- all of my background was ecology and I'm a believer that the big variables on the earth, the macroclimate are what drive winemaking and styles and things like soils are secondary variables. So I would say, actually, probably some of the bigger differences between let's say Sanoita which is one of our older wine regions here the Verde Valley is different. The rainfall and the temperatures shifts from day-to-day, that’s the biggest factor.
Ted Simons: I think you've got surprising information into what factors into making wine in Arizona. Back to the film aspect of this, you've dealt with a guy who is notorious for being a little different, we can say. Some may say difficult, but we can certainly say different. The band is very, very popular. Yet he's up there in north central Arizona making wine. Was it easy to work with this guy?
Ryan Page: Easy as -- easy might be a bit much but we heard that Maynard moved to Jerome, I think in 1998 or something like that. And it blew our mind that's this international rock star was living in a ghost town, basically. I don’t know how recently you’ve been to Jerome, but it's a tiny town. So Maynard, when we set out to make the film, we knew he was perceived a certain way and it wasn't our intention to kind of break the mystery of who he is.
Ted Simons: Were you surprised how earnest he was about wine?
Ryan Page: Absolutely, that was shocking, really. He is -- he is -- you know, Eric is his mentor in winemaking, but Maynard is as passionate about winemaking as he is about music.
Ted Simons: Did he come to you and say I'm interested in wine or did you go to him and say you sound like someone I can work with.
Eric Glomski: I wouldn't say he came to me. I think he went looking and we found each other. I was helping another guy open up Echo Canyon, a stone's throw from McCain's house, and one day Maynard rolled in and smart enough to look for others doing something like that and we hit it off and then I watched him doing things – I said yeah, I ought to give you a hand, and here we are several years later.
Ted Simons: When you watch him do things and, obviously, you mentioned earlier that winemaking in Arizona is a different beast as it is in all different corners of the country. Talk about the challenges of making wine in Arizona. We talked earlier, a little surprising, some of the challenges.
Eric Glomski: I give tours and sometimes I call it the myth-busters tour. Everything I say is exactly the opposite of what they think. The two biggest challenges is -- and really, it's more about growing. Cold weather and rain. And everybody assumes it's heat and aridity. And the challenge is, number one, we're growing at high elevations and usually in the valley bottoms where the soils are decent and we get spring frost. If we get a couple of days below 70 degrees in the winter, we can lose vines to winter kill. And rainfall, and more importantly the timing, if we get rain in late July, August, early September, it's a real problem because that's the ripening season and the rain leads to all kinds of fungal problems, mildew and hails can physically damage the wine and grapes and it's exactly the opposite of what people expect.
Ted Simons: That’s fascinating. And getting that information on to film along with the relationship between these guys and the rock star and his new craft, so to speak, how do you make in entertaining and a movie people want to see?
Ryan Page: That's the task with any documentary, you know, I mean, we're making – not doing a news program. We're making a feature film that's going into theaters so we actually brought in some comedians and Maynard brought some of his friends in, to taste wine and one of my favorite segments in the film is we flew one the wine spectator writers from Italy into Jerome to taste the wine.
Ted Simons: What did he say?
Ryan Page: He liked it. He really did.
Ted Simons: That brings up the question. I know what I like. And most people know what they like. What makes a quote/unquote good wine?
Eric Glomski: Well, you know, I think -- I think knowing what you like is important and ultimately that's how people should buy wine and I think you can appreciate wine that is done well and artistically made regardless of whether you like it or not and it starts with growing the grapes. You can't make a great meal without great ingredients and then it comes down, to me -- for me, at least, my personal opinion, I think great wines have everything to do with balance, harmony and complexity and I don't think a wine has to be super-dense and rich. It can be a light wine, and be appealing. But I think it has to do with balance and finesse. And these are things that as a winemaker and I'll speak for Maynard too, each year as we evolve in our understanding of this, that's what we're trying to achieve and with a lot of people in the state.
Ted Simons: We have to stop it right there. Thanks for joining us.
- We’ve had a lot of rain lately. Does that mean the drought is over? Rita Maguire, a water law attorney and former Director of the Arizona Department of Water Resources, will offer her perspective.
- Rita Maguire - Water law attorney and former Director of the Arizona Department of Water Resources
Ted Simons: I recently spoke with Rita Maguire, water law attorney and former director of the state department of water resources. Rita thank you so much for joining us on HORIZON.
Rita Maguire: Thank you, Ted.
Ted Simons: The status of the drought, where are we right now and how are we going to be able to tell when it's over?
Rita Maguire: You know you can't tell until it's really over. In other words, you have to look back in time and look over a period of time as to whether or not on average you are below normal, at normal or above normal. Cycles for rainfall and snowfall. Right now, we'll say we're still in a drought. Obviously a very wet year. A few years from now, we may look back and say, we're out of the drought. But don't know until after the fact.
Ted Simons: As far as the region's water supply is concerned, does it look as though it's getting any better at all?
Rita Maguire: It is better. Arizona's really gifted. We have two surface water systems that we rely on. The Colorado River water supply and at Salton Verde supply. Typically they operate on alternating weather patterns. This years a perfect example, we have an El Nino year. That means the weather partners are moving through the south western part of the United States, through southern Arizona and into New Mexico and the result is we're getting a ton of water on the Salt and Verde watersheds and all of the Salt River reservoirs are at capacity and releasing water through the spill ways to avoid overtopping the dams. But conversely, the Colorado River watershed is still below normal and, in fact, the Lake Mead and Lake Powell only 50% full.
Ted Simons: I was going to ask about that because they're the key as far as CAP water is concerned. What happens if the drought continues and gets worse and then all of a sudden, those lakes get really close to drying up?
Rita Maguire: Two years ago, the seven states that share the Colorado River entered into a interim shortage criteria. What those criteria’s say is that if Lake Mead or Lake Powell's elevations reach certain levels then we literally cut back diversions and the seven states share the water supply and they're divided in upper and lower basin states. Arizona, California and Nevada are in the lower basin. And in the lower basin, we have our shortage criterion that says when Lake Mead gets to a certain point, the secretary of interior cuts back on the deliveries of Colorado River water. Arizona has the lowest priority water rights in the lower basin. We're the first through the central Arizona project; we’re the first to be cut back in a shortage.
Ted Simons: So we’re the first to be cut back and seem to have a relatively healthy balance in terms of where we get water overall, correct?
Rita Maguire: That's true. For a long time, we complained as a state it wasn't fair we had the lowest priority water and the risk of drought conditions but sometimes there's a silver lining and 30 years ago, the state legislature passed the groundwater management act. That piece of legislation forced cities, forced farmers in certain parts of the state, the most highly developed and highest water demand areas of the state, forced them to use surface water to save the groundwater, with the idea use the surface water when it's available. It's renewable but in a drought condition when it’s not available, we can turn on the pumps and recover ground water we have stored in anticipation of a drought.
Ted Simons: How is that working out? The relationship between smaller towns, and cities, and water companies. I know unmonitored wells, these wildcat wells that are drilled in certain parts tap into water that's expected in other areas of the state, that used to be such a problem. Is that still a concern?
Rita Maguire: It is, we have what are known as wildcat or exempt wells-- they can pump up to 30-gallons per minute. That translates to roughly 56-acre feet a year. Sounds like a foreign language. That translates into a family of five can live on a single acre foot of water for a year. And an exempt well can supply 56 families. I would argue that the exempt level is too high. They tend to be wells located in rural parts of the state where you can't get municipal infrastructure to deliver water supply. So it makes sense to have the ability as a private property owner out in the rural part of the state to be able to drill an exempt well but as more and more of these wells cluster around the Verde River, for example, it has the potential of impacting the flows of the Verde River and impacting its ability to deliver water downstream to the metropolitan Phoenix area.
Ted Simons: And I'm sure those fights would get stronger if the drought increases or continues and water everywhere becomes that much more of a scarce resource.
Rita Maguire: Absolutely, people are protective of their water rights and their water supplies.
Ted Simons: Speaking of water supplies in general, we hear about desalination and sometimes it sounds science fiction like. And other folks say we can do it right now. I know there's cost concerns, there’s got to be some technological concerns, and maybe even environmental concerns. Is desalination, is that a viable alternative?
Rita Maguire: It is. You know, a few years ago, we'd say it's something to be talked about in the future. But actually, today, literally as we speak, the lower basin states I mentioned earlier, California, Nevada and Arizona, as well as the Mexican government and the government of the United States, the federal government, are sitting down at the table talking about the potential for building desalination plants not only along the southern California coast but the coast of Mexico in a way to generate additional supplies water and the availability of Colorado river water here in the United States by building potentially a desalination plant in Mexico but also to protect environmental areas that have enjoyed excess water supplies when there available and we see a day when Colorado river water can't sustain those wetland habitats.
Ted Simons: Did the fact that the Colorado river can't sustain much at all in Mexico, how much of a concern is that with the dynamic between Mexico and the United States.
Rita Maguire: It's been a source of tension for many years. The first treaty between Mexico and the United States dates back to 1944 and for all of the years since then, the United States has met its obligation to deliver 1.5 million feet of water. And for many years, we didn't use all of the water we were entitled to use in the United States. So excess water into Mexico. Now we're using all of that water, so they're only getting the original 1.5 million. The excess water sustained what was called the Santa Clara, the wonderful wetland habitat in the gulf of California and that's shrinking with the reduction of excess water deliveries and the MEXICALI region of Mexico is the largest growing agricultural region in Northern Mexico it’s a source of many new jobs there and strength of their economy and they have relied on water being delivered in that area through leaky canal systems in the United States. So we're going back on the northern side of the border lining canals and trying to be more efficient with our water use and the Mexicans on the other side say, wait a minute, we want that water. We rely on it to use in our irrigation projects in northern Mexico.
Ted Simons: So with all this in mind, everything from droughts to CPA – concerns, to desalinization and working with Mexico and these things. As someone who is an expert on water resources, what concerns you the most, as far as Arizona and water supply?
Rita Maguire: Well, I think one is the need to cooperate with one another. We have learned very quickly that you can no longer say what's mine is mine and you go figure out your water problems. Water is definitely a shared resource and we look at water on a regional basis. Having said that, we as a state, have been probably the best at doing our homework in terms of passing the groundwater management act, building the infrastructure necessary to ensure we have a long-term water supply, but we're also outgrowing our water supply as has southern California and southern Nevada, so we have to work together to be as efficient and effective as possible in managing the water supplies but the population keeps growing so this is a never-ending battle to be able it meet the demands of a growing population, meet new demands from the environmental areas as well as native American populations and find the money to build the infrastructure and find the new technology to ensure we have the high-quality affordable water supply we've always enjoyed here.
Ted Simons: Great having you on the show. Thanks for joining us, we appreciate it.
Rita Maguire: Thank you.
- An update on legislative news with a reporter from the Arizona Capitol Times.
- Jim Small - Arizona Capitol Times
Ted Simons: A new collection of budget concerns hit the state capitol this week. Here to tell us about it is "Arizona Capitol Times" reporter Jim Small. Thanks for joining us.
Jim Small: Thanks for having me.
Ted Simons: These concerns deal with the healthcare reform law. It seems like a lot of folks still aren't sure what's going on with this thing.
Jim Small: You're right. The Democrats announced on Monday they believe that cuts that were enacted last week, two weeks ago, in the upcoming budget year will jeopardize Arizona's federal healthcare funding with the new law that President Obama signed the other day. Republicans are -- say they're investigating it they’re looking at it, they have budget staff examining the new law, the reconciliation bill still working its way through congress and what it means for Arizona and whether all of our money is indeed in jeopardy.
Ted Simons: Indeed, and this is because of getting rid of kids' care and maintenance of effort. Once the president signs the law, whatever’s there has got to stay there.
Jim Small: And that’s the argument that the democrats made. Once that federal law was enacted it took a snapshot of every state's enrollment and eligibility standards for public health programs and any deviation from those between now and 2014, any lessening of those, means a state is basically in breach of the law and no longer eligible to receive federal money. Because the kids care law, even the vote on it to repeal it was a week or two ago it actually doesn't go into effect until the middle of June so at that point the theory goes we would lose all of our money.
Ted Simons: And at that point, you have to wonder about, is there general consensus that kids care must return?
Jim Small: Not yet. I think that if Republicans do, in fact, determine ok. This is the way it works and we have to do something about it. We can't just restore it later and apply for it, or there’s not some sort of out where we can get rid of this one program and still get all the rest of the money. I think that’s what’s going to happen, because no one envisioned that the vote on the budget would take away upwards of $7 billion worth of federal health care money.
Ted Simons: So democrats are saying--The tax exemption on retail warranties, just take that one item away and you pay for kids care. Is that getting traction over there?
Jim Small: Not a whole lot. Governor Brewer came out right away and said this bill isn’t even 24 hours old and the Democrats are suggesting a tax increase. Took a little bit of a political shot at them. Republicans really haven't said what they are willing to do. They say they need to examine it and see what's on the table. One thing that came up today is that Democrats are proposing a repeal of an accounting tax credit. It’s an item in the special session that we just completed and passed the house with bipartisan support and didn't pass the senate. They couldn't muster up the votes to pass it, but it has support from the governor's office and supported by Republican leadership so their bringing that out there and saying this brings in the same amount of money and we can use that money to pay for kids care, it's something that we already really discussed.
Ted Simons: One way or another, they're going to find a way to get kids care back. Especially considering the consequences. Very quickly, I know three ballot measures are making their way through the house. Lengthening legislative terms but not term limits, correct?
Jim Small: Correct. It would have legislative terms from two years to four years and senators staggered. 15 senators would have four-year terms beginning in the next election, and the other 15 would go in the other election following.
Ted Simons: Pretty popular?
Jim Small: Got a preliminary voice vote in the house, hasn't had a formal vote, so we’ll see.
Ted Simons: Okay, and referral to ask voters to suspend protection of some spending. Sounds like help us to spend some of the money that's protected right now.
Jim Small: Yeah, there's a constitutional provision that protects spending approved by voters. This would lift that for a few years, let the legislature take half of any money that’s sitting there and also half of future revenue streams.
Ted Simons: Is that the kind of thing that Democrats are going to fight, tooth and nail?
Jim Small: Absolutely.
Ted Simons: And the third one, sounds like lawmakers say when the federal government gives us money; we want to control all of it as opposed to the governor controlling some of it. How far does that go?
Jim Small: It's an idea that passed the house and senate numerous times in the past. Usually it has been in bill form, which goes to the governor and most governors don't want to have that power taken away. So they veto it. This one would go to the people. We’ll see, I think it will probably end up on the ballot.
Ted Simons: We'll have 47,000 things to be voting on apparently when we get that ballot in November.
Jim Small: It might be a very lengthy ballot.
Ted Simons: Jim, thanks for joining us.
Jim Small: Thank you.