Path Home Shows 2014 Show Archive June 2014 Show 1426 Oklahoma Horizon TV Show 1426

Oklahoma Horizon TV Show 1426

This week on Oklahoma Horizon, we’ll take you on a tour of Oklahoma’s burgeoning wine industry and look at prospects for farmers in a drier climate.
Oklahoma Horizon TV Show 1426

Oklahoma Horizon TV Show 1426

For more information visit these links:

Oklahoma Agritourism

Travel OK

Oklahoma Wine Trails

Clauren Ridge Vineyard and Winery

Urban Wineworks

Oklahoma Grape Industry Council

Oklahoma ABLE Commission

Oklahoma Water Resources Board

Steve Solomon’s Water Blog

Water: The Epic Struggle for Wealth, Power and Civilization

Show Details

Show 1426: Oklahoma Horizon TV
Air Date: June 29, 2014



Andy Barth: Here’s what’s coming up on your “Horizon.” Well, Oklahoma’s wine industry is rapidly growing. Our Alisa Hines takes on the trail where Oklahomans turn water into wine.

Jamie Cummings: Most people don’t know that there is wineries in the state, and so we wanted to, No. 1, get that awareness out there, and so we were hoping that the wine trail would do that.

Andy: I visit with the Oklahoma grape and wine commission president about current shipping limits put on Oklahoma wineries.

Gene Clifton: Well, we need to get together with the distributors to make it and the liquor stores to make it profitable for all of us to make money.

Andy: We look at how drought and climate change is impacting Oklahoma agriculture.

J. D. Strong: I think the obstacles we face are not any different than any other place on the planet, really. Folks are always concerned that if any water leaves their area that they’re gonna need it someday.

Andy: And our Rob McClendon ends our day with a chat with author Steve Solomon about water and the struggles that come with it.

Steve Solomon: I mean, my view is that America is – being one of the water-richest nations on earth – is in a very well-placed position.

Andy: Stay with us for “Oklahoma Horizon.”

Male Announcer: “Oklahoma Horizon” is made possible by the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education.

Female Announcer: Oklahoma’s investment in CareerTech provides more than nationally recognized technology education and training. It produces solid financial returns for the state’s economic future. Oklahoma CareerTech, elevating our economy.

Male Announcer: And the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, helping good people grow good things. And now, from the CareerTech studios in Stillwater, here’s your host, Andy Barth.

Andy Barth: Hello, everyone. Thanks for joining us here on “Horizon.” I’m Andy Barth; Rob McClendon is away this week. When people think of Oklahoma agriculture, things like cattle and wheat come to mind. But thanks to a dedicated group of agriculturalists, wine is hitting the Oklahoma scene in a big way. Today, more than 50 wineries and vineyards span the state, and many of them have been mapped out into various wine trails. And hot on that trail is our Alisa Hines.

Alisa Hines: A program being launched by Oklahoma Agritourism in conjunction with TravelOK is putting Oklahoma vineyards and wineries on the map – literally. And I was able to go on the trail to a couple of places in search of tasty Oklahoma wine.

Oh look, she’s carding him.

Where is your ID?

That’s awesome.

You don’t even have an ID [laugh]?

Alisa: Kristin McGee enjoys interacting with visitors of all ages at Clauren Ridge Vineyard and Winery in Edmond.

Kristin: They can see a lot of different stuff. We have winery tours of our facility, wine tasting, sit outside on the patio.

Alisa: A winery featuring Oklahoma grown grapes.

Kristin: We have nine different varietals right now. We try to actually use all of our own grapes. However, just like every other winery in the world, if we have to, we do have to supplement what we can. But what we try to do is keep all Oklahoma grapes. We’ll go out to other Oklahoma growers and try to get them from them. And if we don’t, if they have a loss, bad harvest, I mean we all know about Oklahoma weather, then we’ll try to go to California if need be.

Alisa: According to Oklahoma Agritourism’s Jamie Cummings, wineries like Clauren Ridge are a reflection of a growing industry.

Jamie Cummings: The Oklahoma Wine Trail is a conglomerate of 31 wineries in the state. There’s 10 trails. There’s two to four wineries per trail. They’re kind of meant to go at a leisurely pace that you kind of set yourself – it’s a self-guided tour. So you can make it an overnight – maybe stay at a guest ranch or a bed and breakfast. In the middle of that, you can take your time and see each unique winery.

Alisa: Unique things like Clauren Ridge’s wine cave.

Kristin: We are Oklahoma’s only wine cave. Now, it’s not a natural wine cave – it is a man-made wine cave, but there’s 18 inches of concrete all the way around so it stays a constant temperature throughout the entire year. We keep it anywhere from 60 to 64 – really nice, especially during the summertime if you’re hot. Also makes one heck of a tornado shelter – just make sure you bring a cork screw.

Alisa: Now, the trail can take you all the way from rural vineyards [horn honking] to a winery in the middle of town.

Marty Rogers: I mean, it’s fun to work here. I really like working here, you know, doing tastings and things like that.

Marty: This is gonna be the sweetest red we make.

Alisa: Marty Rogers is with Urban Wineworks and says they’re not quite like other wineries.

Marty: It is a little different. People come in and ask for the tour – our building obviously as you can see is quite small. So you know, we’re like, “Well, this is our tasting room, and there’s the restrooms and the kitchen and that’s it.” But our wines are uniquely our own, and you can only get them at our store.

Alisa: And at Urban Wineworks, you can even enjoy your wine with a little food.

Marty: We always run a few dinner specials. Normally, that’s gonna be a steak, some kind of fish and some kind of chicken dish. We also serve our tapas menu from 5 o’clock on.

Alisa: Now, Jamie says the Oklahoma Wine Trail came about in hopes of making visitors aware of our burgeoning wine industry.

Jamie: Before 2000, there were four wineries. Now, there’s over 60 registered with the ABLE Commission so the industry is booming. Most people don’t know that there are wineries in the state, and so we wanted to, No. 1, get that awareness out there, and so we were hoping that the wine trail would do that. And then secondfold, we were hoping that it would be just a grab-and-go map that people could grab and see rural Oklahoma and travel the state.

Alisa: Available at, the map leads you on an adventure into Oklahoma wine country.

Jamie: Most of them are operating vineyards, and so you’re gonna meet the winemaker, and they’re so passionate about what they do. They’re so excited to meet you and tell you all about their wines – how they make their wines. And several of them – there’s a little key on the trail that can, will tell you if there’s an onsite vineyard, and most of ’em will be more than happy to take you around the vineyard and show you, depending on what time of year that it is, what’s, what’s going on with their vineyard and how that affects how they make their wine. And then most of them have their winery operation right there. Well, they take you back there and let you see it fermenting and all the tastes and smells that come along with that. It’s a pretty neat experience.

Alisa: So download a map and plan your trip down the Oklahoma Wine Trail.

Alisa: Congratulations on the new wine trail.

Jamie: Thank you!

[drinking wine]

Alisa: Oh, wow, that’s really good.

Alisa: Now, each stop on the trail is open at least two days a week with regular set business hours. So check the Oklahoma Wine Trails website to find out the hours before hitting the trail.

Andy: So Alisa, I hear that agritourism has a special promotion to help launch these wine trails.

Alisa: For a limited time only, they have a passport on the Oklahoma Wine Trails website that you can download from the Oklahoma Wine Trails website, and as you go to each winery you can receive a code. Once you’ve received codes for all four wineries on that trail, then you can go back to the website, enter your code and receive a charm for that trail. Now, you could actually receive all 10 for a complete set.

Andy: Well, certainly sounds like fun. Thank you so much, Alisa. And when we return, I visit with a vineyard owner about the barriers behind shipping wine in Oklahoma.

Male Announcer: You’re watching “Oklahoma Horizon,” featuring some of the good things that are happening in the great state of Oklahoma.

Andy Barth: Well, Oklahoma has come a long way since the days of prohibition. Even so, the state swings pretty far right on the conservative scale when it comes to alcohol. Earlier, I met up with Gene Clifton, the president of the Oklahoma Grape and Wine Commission to talk about the shipping issues surrounding the state’s rapidly growing wine industry.

Andy: Well, thank you so much, Gene, for inviting us out to the winery. We really appreciate it.

Gene Clifton: You’re welcome.

Andy: Now, there is a lot of concern and resistance to Oklahoma winemakers shipping their wine. Is that because distributors are concerned that large companies like Gallo will come in and take over the market?

Clifton: Yes, that could very well be. But right now the loss is that there’s no shipping in Oklahoma from other states. We can’t ship in-state; we can ship out-of-state. There’s 32 states that we can ship to, and we do on a regular basis.

Andy: Now, Oklahoma has done a great job of growing the wine industry. What needs to happen to make this even more successful?

Clifton: Well, we need to, we need to get together with the distributors to make it and the liquor stores to make it profitable for all of us to make money. And I think personally that Oklahoma needs to have grocery store sales with only Oklahoma wines. That is my solution to the problem. Uh, because Arkansas has that law, and it’s been contested and through the constitutional because each state makes its own liquor laws. That would solve the problem with the distributors because they would still distribute it to liquor stores. We could sell to liquor stores. We could sell to distributors. And the liquor stores who sell liquor and wine would still be able to stay in business. And I think that the, the liquor stores could stand some changes in their venue where they could sell other things besides wine, liquor and warm beer. And I think that’s one of the answers that, that uh, we could put together with the legislature that might work for everybody.

Andy: And when it comes to changing the law it really comes down to a vote of the people.

Clifton: Exactly. But I guarantee if this vote went to the vote of the people -- we have had several in the last -- you know, we’ve been here 15 years, and we’ve had several bills passed by the people with the minimum of a 68 percent voters. So if it goes to the vote of the people, they’ll vote for it.

Andy: All right, Gene. Well, thank you so much.

Clifton: You bet.

Andy: Now, we have more stories about Oklahoma’s booming wine industry on our website. Just head to and look under our value added section.

Andy Barth: Well, Oklahoma is known for its wild weather. From severe thunderstorms to late freezes, the only thing predictable about our weather is that it’s unpredictable. And while we have seen a large amount of rain in the last two months, Oklahoma’s drought still lingers. Fourteen and a half percent of the state is in an exceptional drought, while nearly 50 percent is considered extreme, a problem climatologists say will take more than a few summer showers to remedy.

Andy: Water is a major issue in Oklahoma. Some have it; others don’t. An issue J.D. Strong with the Oklahoma Water Resources Board says has been around since before Oklahoma began.

J.D. Strong: Oklahoma in so many ways is really the crossroads of America. We’re where east meets west. And so in a lot of ways our water resources reflect that. Eastern Oklahoma has always been our area of abundant water supplies, and western Oklahoma has always been starved for water.

Andy: Resulting in a tug of war between eastern and western Oklahoma, a battle Strong believes mirrors those across the western states.

Strong: I think the obstacles we face are not any different than any other place on the planet, really. Folks are always concerned that if any water leaves their area that they’re gonna need it someday.

Andy: And while the drought has taken its toll on western Oklahoma farmers, as a whole, the state has received an average of 5 1/2 inches of rain in the last two months. And while many are glad to have the moisture, Regional Drought Information Coordinator Veva Deheza says too much water too fast may create more problems for farmers.

Veva Deheza: A lot of times we think water’s good when we’re in a drought, but if the water’s all coming in at one time, a lot of times our systems can’t handle it. Soils get oversaturated, you get flooding conditions, and flooding can be just as problematic for an ag producer, both on the cattle and the crop side, as no, as in no rain drought conditions. So it can wreak havoc on an agricultural producer.

Andy: Yet extreme dry and wet conditions are not the only thing plaguing Oklahoma agriculture. Deheza says climate change, while controversial, will affect the growing patterns of our staple food sources.

Deheza: If we are adding more days of 102-degree temperatures, if we are adding more nights of temperatures that are higher than 75 degrees, then we’re talking about the life cycle of the plants we have learned, we have grown to rely on for food crops – wheat, corn, sorghum, whatever else is grown in these regions in the Southern Plains. Those life cycles are being interrupted. They are being, there is hampering going on with when they go to seed, when they, when they hit certain stages of development. Those temperatures are vital. How those temperatures come in, how often we stay in those temperatures are vital to how those crops meet those benchmarks within their development phases that could cause problems for crops.

Andy: Something that Deheza says could change what and how farmers produce our food.

Deheza: We could be looking at needing to look at different types of crops, growing them in different ways, timing the growing of those crops. It could change how producers have been doing business for a long time.

Andy: And whether it’s water issues or climate change, both Strong and Deheza say we must get ready for a new normal.

Strong: We’re not quite prepared for the worst. And so I think going forward, it behooves us to work with our water providers and our water users across the state of Oklahoma to make sure we’re prepared for the worst.

Deheza: You still need to do the emergency planning, but we need to start looking at decisions and policies, regulatory institutional decisions – how we do business, how we operate reservoirs long-term. Because what we have considered to be the norm for climate and weather patterns is probably no longer going to be the norm. We’re not going to just see these random drought events. They will probably, their frequency and intensity will become part of our norm. Hence, we need to start shifting to looking at better ways to plan, better ways to become resilient to these events.

Andy: Now, folks within the agricultural community have differing opinions of the recently received rain. Cattle producers are thrilled because the grass cattle graze on is growing well. Wheat producers, on the other hand, struggle with the wet conditions because the crop must be dry in order to harvest it. However, Gary McManus with the National Weather Service says to improve long-term drought conditions it will require a multi-season, above-normal rainfall here in the Sooner State.

Rob McClendon: Want to share something you’ve seen here today? Well, all of our episodes are streaming on our YouTube channel at OklahomaHorizonTV, or you can subscribe to our weekly free podcast on iTunes.

Andy Barth: Well, since the start of civilization, water has played a critical role in commerce. Entire societies have developed around abundant water sources, and it’s no different today. Earlier, our Rob McClendon sat down with Steve Solomon, the author of “Water: The Epic Struggle For Wealth, Power and Civilization” to talk about the pivotal role water plays in today’s economy.

Rob McClendon: With the water scarcity that everyone seems to be very concerned about and, of course, our growing populations, are we doing in this country as much as we should or could be doing?

Steve Solomon: No, we’ve hardly started. We’ve really scratched, just beginning to scratch the surface if we’re a water-rich country. One of the water-wealthiest in the world; in fact, we have 8 percent of the world’s fresh water and only 4 percent of its population pressures. We obviously have certain arid regions, which are more stressed. And those tend to be the ones that have done the most, not surprisingly, to uh, to start to reuse water – that is to take water that we’ve treated and then reuse it for other purposes. We’ve begun to use better forms of irrigation, like drip irrigation where that’s possible to do that uses, that uses less water, consumes less water. When we are dealing with, uh -- even now in the latest boom in shale oil and gas industry, one of the big problems has been that they’ve had to truck in so much water to do the fracking. And then the water was also rather polluted. So now they’ve more recently have come up with ways to be using some of the very highly-saline produced water from these wells to reuse them again, which is not only a great saver in the amount of fresh water that we have to use, but also is extremely good for saving on disposal from the disposal problems – transportation. They’re doing a lot of this onsite in local, at the local fracking areas themselves. So you begin to get a -- instead of a centralized water system that requires lots of energy to move the water back and forth between a centralized system and then back out to the areas where it’s gonna be, actually be deployed, you now have more of a decentralized system, and therefore you save an awful lot on energy costs and the pollution that goes along with that, very often.

Rob: So you, you’ve said that the U.S. uses about half of our water going towards energy.

Solomon: Yeah, the latest form now, and that’s -- we’ve got to make a distinction between water withdrawals and water consumption. This is a technical thing, but water withdrawals is water that we just take out of an ecosystem in large volumes. Consumed water is the water, and then very often that water then goes back into the ecosystem. For example, it might be used for cooling. A lot think of the water out of a river and then it goes back into the river, and it isn’t, it isn’t lost, you know, it’s still available back in the river system. But it affects the ecosystem dramatically by taking out too much, and there are places where we can no longer put new energy plants because we’ve taken out, we have to take out so much water at any given time. Consuming water, on the other hand, is water that is then lost to the ecosystem – usually through evaporation. And, uh, so when we’re talking about energy using half of the water in the United States, we’re using -- we’re talking about withdrawals; we’re not talking about consumption. When you talk about consumption agriculture, is still by far and away the largest user, consumer of water.

Rob: Is energy and our thirst for energy and our thirst for water -- are they on a collision course?

Solomon: Well, that’s – yes. That’s being the latest studies. There was work done in about 2006. It started with Sandia Labs, and some of the national labs for the Department of Energy – produced a report. I think it was Sen. Domenici was the one who asked it. And it showed that the, many of the non-conventional alternative energies that we’re relying on for the future – the shale gas, the thermal solar in the southwest for example where a lot of the sun is, for the energy crops for corn ethanol, for example. You know, these are, these use, these consume a large, a lot more water than the conventional forces of energy that we have projection, I believe that are -- we’re gonna need 40 percent more and be able to produce 40 percent more energy in the next couple of decades. But no one was looking at whether there was gonna be enough water available for these sources. So these reports highlighted the fact that we are on a collision course. That’s why some of the breakthroughs that I mentioned about the hydro-fracking, for example, uh, were, uh, are quite, uh, important.

Rob: Now, we’ve talked predominantly about water usage here in the developed world. What about in the developing world?

Solomon: Right. There are enormous problems, of course, of different types. And in many cases, about 70, a lot of people get water out of and energy from the, from the rivers. But rivers in places like the Euphrates and the Nile -- you know, these rivers are already drawing so much water out of them that often the people downstream don’t have enough flow to generate some of the energy or to get the irrigation that they need. On the other hand, I must say there are parts of the world that have not tapped their hydropower, their hydropower potential at all. Africa uses only about 10 or 15 percent of its hydropower potential, Pakistan only about 15 or so percent. So there are enormous opportunities in the developing world for tapping clean hydropower electricity, but it requires large investments of capital, organized -- a pretty organized society to be able to do that.

Rob: You know, in my first trip to China I was traveling with a group from town to town, and the city leaders kept telling us, “Well, we have lots of water here.” And it eventually dawned on me that water might be a problem in China. Are several countries like that, that we have almost become so accustomed to all of our water resources that they just don’t have the same water resources as we do?

Solomon: Sure, sure. China’s a great example by itself, of course. I mean, it has, of course, almost the same amount of fresh water that we do on a gross basis but since they have five times the population, they only have one-fifth the amount of water per person. And they have a much worse water mismatch – have always had, historically. In the northern region where civilization started, where they’ve got a lot of great energy and food potential resources, they have no water. It’s much worse than, than the shortages of water that we experience in the southwest of the United States, for example. So they are embarked on the largest water project on Earth, which is a, the south-to-north water transfer project, where they are trying to create huge aqueducts to bring water from the fairly wet south to the, to the very parched north by going over mountains, under rivers, you know, a thousand miles. I mean, it’s an enormous undertaking. So China certainly is one, but there are many other countries that are, are deeply water stressed as well, Pakistan being one.

Rob: If projections are correct that our population across the globe could raise from 7 to 9 1/2 billion, do we have enough fresh water for that many people?

Solomon: Well, not on current practices – the way that things are distributed today. If we invent a new water paradigm that uses water more efficiently, using the existing water more efficiently, using technologies that are available today, quite honestly we don’t need great breakthroughs. And we could actually implement them all. Probably we could get by with, with the nine billion. The bigger question actually is beyond the absolute increase in population numbers, is that many people are moving from very impoverished lifestyles to middle-class lifestyles that we enjoy in the United States. And that is a multiplier that’s even greater than the arithmetic increase in population between 7 and 9 1/2 billion. And there’s a question whether we can sustain. On the earth today, I guess we have about a billion or so living a middle-class lifestyle. Can we, can the population of the earth sustain 3 billion with a middle-class lifestyle because that’s what we’re trying to achieve?

Rob: So essentially what we’re talking about is conservation.

Solomon: Conservation is, uh, yeah -- I mean, you can call conservation -- conservation has many faces to it. You know, there’s a lot of innovation can still happen. But there’s a lot of innovation that’s already been made that hasn’t been applied. You know, in Israel they reuse 75 percent of their, their water. We only reuse about 6 or 7 percent here in the United States. There’s no reason why we can’t do what, what Israel is doing. And that is a form of conservation. It really is in our economic interest to do that because we’ll get more bang for the buck. I mean, my view is that America is – being one of the water richest nations on earth is, in a very well-placed position to provide, grow the food, produce the water intensive energy and goods that the rest of the world is gonna be very hard-pressed to do as we move forward because of the acuteness of the water scarcity problem in other places. But we’ve got to get our own act together at home to make sure we get the most out of this comparative advantage that we have in fresh water.

Rob: All right. Thank you for your insights.

Solomon: Sure. Thank you.

Rob: We’ve all heard about the shrinking middle class. Next time on “Oklahoma Horizon,” we’ll look at some possible solutions to what’s been a persistent problem.

Nick Pinchuk: Those technical jobs have been the bulwark of the middle class and have created the American strength we enjoy today. There is no path to prosperity without having an enabled middle class.

Rob: Recapturing the American dream, on Oklahoma’s show for the heartland, “Oklahoma Horizon.”

Well, we are out of time. I’m Andy Barth. Thanks for watching. Rob McClendon will see you back here next week.

Male Announcer: “Horizon” is made possible by the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education and the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, helping good people, grow good things.