Oh, great…now TB thinks he’s Jesus! Not quite, but water of course is a key ingredient of wine and the purity of the water supply matters too. In fact, everything that come in contact with the grapes has an effect on the finished profit, be it for the better, or worse.
In some areas, there is enough rainfall that once the vines have taken root, they can go to ‘dry farming’. If possible, it is the best for several reasons. First, the vines learn to fight for the water and push their roots down deeper. During a drought in 1981, famed winemaker Joe Heitz told me that a drought is good because without it, readily available sources of water keep the roots shallow. Hillside vineyards benefit the most since the water runs off whereas those on the valley floor have much more water and thus are not stressed – the reason the best wines come from hillsides with sandy, loamy, or even rocky soil which keeps the soil from clumping, as clay does.
In areas like California’s Central Coast where the average rainfall is perhaps 7-8 inches a year, irrigation is a must but that problem has largely been mitigated with the use of drip irrigation systems. At a recent wine symposium, even Fred Franzia, producer of Charles Shaw (aka Two Buck Chuck) was stressing the need for this to conserve water. This brings us to the ‘water into wine’ subject.
First, TB did some research and found that to produce a one liter bottle of water requires 1.39 liters of water…and that does not include the water required to make the bottle! Shockingly, 50 BILLION bottles of water are drunk and either recycled or simply thrown away each year! That means 69.5 billion liters of water – when many if not most of us could be drinking it from the tap and unless contaminated, be getting minerals with the H2O. This and the other figures cited here are from a report by the International Bottled Water Association
How about a liter bottle of soda? 2.02 liters and it is anybodies guess how many bottles of those are drunk each year. A liter of wine requires 4.74 liters…so the 1 billion 750ml bottles of Two Buck Chuck alone required 6.32 billion liters of water….much of it from the San Joaquin Aquifer, the second largest in the country…in volume, but since the drought (longest in 600 years!), it has been largely depleted and an increase in arsenic and other levels and with land sinking.
Beer is lower…4 liters…but look what happens with grain alcohol:34.55 liters!!!
Now add in packaging (plastic bottles, etc.) and it can be 6-7 time the amounts shown above. Especially when you include cleaning the equipment which requires a lot of water.
I was talking to a friend who bought a place down at Palm Springs and asked if he was concerned about all those golf courses sapping the water supply and turning it back into a desert? He said that they are using wastewater recovery systems which wineries are also shifting towards. Consider that Franzia’s Bronco Wines owns 40,000 acres of vineyards in California making them far and away the largest, and thus, largest consumer of water. Wine Economist – Sustainability describes one of the wastewater recapture systems that is reportedly removes 99% of the contaminants.
All of the above is shocking to TB…off to grab a glass of wine!
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How did Trader Bill originate?
It was conceived by me as a way of providing information summaries of global financial markets so that friends and associates could bring themselves up to speed on events and changing market conditions upon their arrival at work. In addition, it provides information on speakers and economic releases that day with consensus estimates and level of last release so that the reader is prepared to react, or knows how the market might react upon the release of information.
Who is Trader Bill?
Initially any reference to me was as ‘i’. This is to remove the aura of ego and to suggest that i am but a humble reporter, albeit with 35 years of investment experience. Investments are demanding of ego, however, or one would not feel that he was qualified to manage someone else’s money in the first instance. Therefore i needed an ‘alter-ego’. Like Winchell and Mahoney, Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy and especially Trader Vic and Mai Tai’s! Why Trader Vic? Because he was a likeable man who delivered pleasure to his customers and knew exactly what their desires were. The reason for the alter ego became obvious once I introduced Trader Bill into my commentaries: people started asking what Trader Bill thought. They had never asked me what I thought before, but suddenly they wanted to know what TB thought! Now mind you they KNEW that I was Trader Bill but for some reason he became bigger than life. Maybe it was the small ‘I’?
What does Trader Bill try to do?His goal is to educate from his years of experience. Consider that most of the traders and people managing investments weren’t even around in 1987 for the crash! Consider that Graham and Dodd, and even Warren Buffet are not relevant to them, too old hat. Their historical perceptions of markets and fundamentals (earnings, price/earnings ratios, bonds, debt service coverage) are irrelevant in this fast moving world. This is the NEW ECONOMY, or is it?
How did your style originate?Years ago i found that i had a knack and talent for writing. In addition, i developed an ability to analyze market news about 15 years ago. It took the Crash of ‘87. Prior to that i was just listening to what others said about the economy. But bond yields had been soaring in ‘87 yet the stock market just kept hitting new highs. That was when i began to learn about markets. i have both a dry and witty sense of humor (some call it inane!). Therefore i
attempt to make even the worst news somewhat amusing: whether it is the absurdity of an economic release, or the comments of a CEO. This is trading desk humor (or gallows humor). It isn’t politically correct but it does ease tension. Ironically, it is seeing the light at the end of the tunnel (in the Navy they say: it’s always darkest before it’s pitch black!), that allows you to be more objective in your analysis, as bad as a situation is there will still be a tomorrow! You will see that i practice three-dot journalism, a style made famous by San Francisco reporter Herb Caen, whom i idolized. At least to me it is effective.
What is so special about your analysis?Frankly, i don’t know that it is special, but at least it beats “the market closed down today on profit taking.” What i do know is that most of what you read is spat out without considering whether or not it is rational, like the above statement. Is it right? Sometimes yes and sometimes no, and that is the key to what is different about my analysis: it is meant to make you think. Is Dan Rather right or is Trader Bill right? If it causes you to stop and think about it, regardless of whether you agree, i win! Because THAT is my goal…not to have you think i am a guru, got that? Bet you never heard that ANYWHERE before in my business! Instead they want you to think just how smart they are but remember in this business if you are right 60% of the time you ARE a genius! Another thing that is different is when i am wrong on an analysis i will tell you, not hope you forget what i said. So now you have the tools to do what the speculators and hedge funds do: challenge authority, and if you make money it is because YOU did it not me. i was just a tool, your flunky to do the grunt work and let you decide…course you could be wrong too but at least you looked at the big picture. But the goal is also to have fun! This shouldn’t be a business of hushed tones and grim faces. It is a living, breathing thing and nowhere else in the world do you have the odds as much in your favor as here. Just beware of the guy who wants to put his arm around you and tell you he is your friend.
So there you have it. I hope you select me as one of your sources for market information. If you do I promise to work my best for your financial success.
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