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Being Water-Wise

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

With the drought situation that the state of California is facing, visitors often ask how the lack of rainfall affects our vineyards.

Well, other than the earliest harvest that anyone can remember, the effect on the wine grapevines in the Temecula Valley has been pretty minimal. Most of our wineries reported little to no change in crop size, primarily due to some perfectly-timed early season rain that helped with fruit set in the spring.

As a perennial crop, wine grapevines are a highly efficient, relatively low, water use crop.  And as long standing, good stewards of the land, Temecula Valley’s winegrape growers have focused on water conservation for decades.

We actively encourage the use of sustainable practices that notably conserve water; in particular is the use of drip irrigation systems in all of our vineyards. A valley-wide system of weather stations, complete with soil moisture probes which use sensor technology to determine the level of soil wetness, are located in various vineyards throughout wine country. Our winemakers and vineyard managers have daily access to this data, which allows them to make informed decisions for irrigation.  Temecula Valley vineyards are primarily watered at night and we practice deficit irrigation, which encourages deep rooting.  We also manage the cover crops that grow between the rows of grapevines to mitigate any competition with the grapevines for water.

It’s also important to note that drought cycles are typical in California and that agriculture somehow, continually adapts. Grapevines can withstand drought conditions for a number of years before they feel any ill effects.

Being water wise in our everyday lives – be it in our homes or in our communities – should be the ‘norm’ for each of us. Water is a truly precious commodity that we all need to protect.

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