Field Research in Napa County, California
My first year as a PhD student I designed a series of exploratory research trips. I traveled to Napa, California; the Western Cape region of South Africa; Victoria, Australia and the island of Tasmania in Australia. I chose these regions based on the scale of the wine industry, the history of land use policy, and the diversity of environmental issues related to water and climate change. These were themes that had inspired me to pursue the PhD, and I wanted to get a broad understanding within regional contexts. This research was possible thanks to generous funding from my NSF IGERT grant.
My methods were a combination of direct landscape observations and face to face interviews with knowledge holders. In each region, I interviewed winery owners, winemakers, viticulturists, wine industry representatives, government planners and natural resource managers, and academics. I also learned the perspectives of conservation organization representatives and local residents.
My kick off trip was to Napa County in January of 2016. I learned about a whole host of social and environmental issues. And my adventures included an invitation from a vineyard owner and winemaker to observe the extent of vineyard planting on hillsides through a tour in his private plane. I learned of a number of land use legislative actions that were the direct result of wine industry impacts. This research eventually resulted in the published chapter in the book Social Sustainability in the Global Wine Industry, which you can find out about here.