Water & Vice: Producing Intoxicants in an Era of Extreme Drought – Facts So Romantic

California is thirsty. The state is in its fourth year of a drought that is especially severe, by any measure. For instance, an April 1 snowpack measurement, a key indicator of surface-water supplies, was lower than any year on record, going back at least to 1950. Dry statistics aside, you can grasp the scope of the problem in an instant with the many before-and-after photos of California’s reservoirs and waterways. What were once tree-lined shores of large lakes are now high ridges overlooking swathes of exposed, dried lake bed and the muddy remnants of formerly flush basins. The land itself is thirsty.

Lake Oroville, a reservoir in Northern California, photographed in 2011, during a period of plentiful water (left), and in 2014, during the state’s relentless drought (right).California Department of Water Resources

If that’s enough to make you want a stiffer drink that mere tap water, you’re not alone: Californians consume a combined seven and a half gallons of wine and craft beer per adult each year, two drinks that are primarily homegrown and rely on the state’s water.

And speaking of homegrown, no discussion of Californian intoxicants would…

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