It is a delicate balance indeed when we, as farmers first before vintners, depend on the weather to bring the right amount of rain at the right time. This doesn’t always happen and there are many examples over the 87 years we have farmed our vineyards when we didn’t have enough, had too much or it rained at an inopportune time i.e. during harvest. And water in California during the fourth year of drought is one hot topic. In our area of Dry Creek Valley we depend on wells and those wells depend on 35-40 inches of average rainfall that fills the underground caches as well as keeps the soil drenched. The last four years have been challenges with one half or less of the average amount and surprisingly the harvests from 2012-2014 have been abundant. We’ll see how this vintage goes-it isn’t over until we have picked our last grapes. But I digress. Being sustainable means having a plan for water. Over the years we have shifted from dry farming to overhead irrigation to a drip system which delivers a regulated flow of water when needed. Now during these dry years the vines will show some stress which means the canopy as well as the developing fruit crop will be affected. Before that happens the vineyard manager watches and decides when to apply water. Remember we have 100+ acres of vineyard so it is a challenge to say least that each and every vine is tended to properly. The great part of drip irrigation is it allows control-we get to decide how to efficiently deliver the right amount to keep fruit quality at optimum levels. Most growers use some form of irrigation and the sustainable focus is to understand the delicate balance of such a limited natural resource. And too much water is just as bad as too little. Conservation is on many a Californian’s mind especially the California farmer. We’ll do our utmost in sustaining our vineyards with an eye to conserve for the future generations. Now a glass of vino is in order.
Drip irrigation on the Home Ranch vineyards.