- Author: Jeannette E. Warnert
Grapes farmed in Northern California's famed "Wine Country" can be successfully produced with no irrigation water applied at all, reported Ellen Knickmeyer of the Associated Press.
She spoke to farmer Frank Leeds, who produces grapes in Napa Valley without adding water, not because of the drought, but because he believes the practice produces the best wine. Another option some farmers are using is deficit irrigation, which provides irrigation water at carefully timed intervals.
The farmers believe dryland farming and deficit irrigation force the vines to develop deeper roots that give wine distinctive "terroir" notes, flavor character it derives from the environment. But they must be cautious to avoid the dreaded "r" word - raisin, said a UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) expert.
"I do know that (various) wineries have a preference, but the overarching preference is that the fruit is sound and it arrives at the winery not shriveled up as a raisin," said UC ANR Cooperative Extension advisor Rhonda Smith.