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Column: Lessons learned from a local winery’s elegant solutions 

Laura Parker

Laura Parker

Get involved in local issues

–I find myself getting in a near panic or at the very least irritated by the very clunky problem solving at the school board and city council lately. Things like wasting time and money on school closure while a new development includes a new school or dramatically raising sewer and water rates at the same time as moving forward with over 4,000 new homes or parklets taking up over 60 parking spaces and instituting paid parking for the spots remaining.

Then recently I visited Caparone winery and was reminded of the beauty of elegant solutions.

You may not have heard of Caparone – they do not advertise. Dave Caparone has an extremely efficient operation. His annual electric bill – at the commercial rate – was just over $700. He waters the vineyard less than 50 hours and uses less than 50 gallons of diesel — per season. With numbers like these, I am surprised more people are not beating a path to his door to learn from him!

Before he had over 40 years experience making wine, he spent years studying varietals and microclimates and decided to plant Italian varietals that at the time were not commercially successful outside of Italy. He spent time studying the problem. He spent time testing out his ideas and theories. He planned strategically. He monitored his results and adjusted as he went. He kept things straightforward and honest. He stayed true to his values. The result of all his planning and studying is an efficient and profitable wine-making venture — an elegant solution!

Enjoying delectable single varietal unfined and unfiltered wine is one benefit (at $18/bottle it is pretty accessible too). And there are some brilliant life lessons to be learned as well.

When faced with a problem we can, or we can allow our elected officials to, go for the quick and expedient answer with no regard for the future or unintended consequences.

Or we could take another route.

We can study the problem, look for and identify causes and root issues, talk to residents and listen to their concerns, study other places and the solutions they have tried. In a world of instant gratification it may feel uncomfortable to spend so much time dissecting and understanding the problem, so much focus on what is not working and why it is not working. But it is through this process that an elegant solution can be crafted.

Imagine if our leaders studied, researched, listened and explored the layers of a problem through many view points before rushing to a decision. Then we could pick up children from an excellent neighborhood school without battling in traffic crossing town on one of the three congested options to get home to enjoy family time with a delicious glass of local, affordable and elegant wine.

I implore and encourage all to be involved in local issues and communicate concerns and compliments to our leaders. We will live with the results.

City council:

Rather than attending in person, residents should call (805) 865-7276 to provide public comment via phone. The phone line will open just prior to the start of the closed session meeting and again prior to the start of the meeting. Written public comments can be submitted via email to prior to 12:00 noon on the day of the council meeting to be posted as an addendum to the agenda. If submitting written comments in advance of the meeting, please note the agenda item by number or name.

City council meetings will be live-streamed during the meeting and also available to play later on YouTube by accessing the following link:

School board:

Phone-in public comment: Call (805) 608-4230 to provide live public comments during the meeting, limited to an item number on the agenda in open session. You will be placed in a queue. You must call well in advance of the item you wish to comment on, public comment will not be available once the item has been discussed by the board of trustees.

Written public comment: To provide written public comment on published agenda topics to be read during the meeting, please email 450 words or less to Note on the email if the comment is for a closed session item, an item number on the agenda in open session. Public comments will be accepted via email until 3 p.m. on the day of the meeting. Public comment is limited to three minutes per person and no more than 20 minutes total for any one item. Any documents, petitions, or information for submittal may also be emailed to the address above.

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