Independent Grape Growers - Paso Robles Area
Gold Members

Wine, Water and Politics- Corbin Entz

Greetings IGGPRA members!

My name is Corbin Entz and I am a master student from the Department of Anthropology at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark. As a part of my master thesis I am spending three months in the Paso basin studying wine, water and politics. I have been asked to write a few words about why I am here and what I hope to achieve.

In short, the purpose of my project is to explore how residents in the Paso basin negotiate and balance individual and collective concerns in their use and management of water during the political process of developing a local sustainability plan. As an anthropologist one way I approach this is by participating in and learning about whatever it entails being a part of the winegrape industry. Before coming here, I contacted IGGPRA to seek help finding a vineyard that would host me. To my luck your vice-president Joe Irick and his wife Terry reached out to me and have been my generous hosts this past month. With their help setting me up and that of other great people in the basin, the project is heading down the right tracks.

But why the Paso basin? Well, I was following the California drought and the Paso basin kept coming up. What I observed from afar was that in the Paso basin most residents appear to agree that something must be done to prevent future droughts from having devastating consequences. Yet, people here seem to disagree about to what extent, how and by whom. Since the late 1990s the Paso basin has experienced a phenomenal development of the area’s winegrape industry. During this period concerns over the condition of the basin have increased leading the state of California to deem the aquifer in risk of “critical overdraft”. The Paso basin is now set on a time schedule to develop a groundwater sustainability plan before 2020. During this political process struggles revolving around contrasting solutions and perceptions have emerged, causing tensions and conflict.

I doubt that any of this is news to you, but this is why I am here. I think that what is happening here is important to understand not only for those who live here, but for all other places facing the same issues. This why it is my goal to identify common grounds where the seemingly contrasting perceptions and interests in the basin align in ways that create the space needed to work together on facing important issues related to water. As one person said to me “it is a very difficult puzzle”. Fortunately, I am not here to solve it. But I would like to untangle the puzzle and make sense of it so that you who live here have a better chance putting its pieces together.

I am looking to meet many more people to learn about wine grapes and living in the Paso basin. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you would like to have a chat with me, if you have some work you need help with on the vineyard, or especially if you want to show me what good wine tastes like. You can reach me at and 805-674-5840.

Thank you for your time!

Best regards