"If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

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"If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#1 Post by Marshall Manning »

I was listening to one of the Dalton podcasts with Daniel Brunier of Vieux Telegraphe, and was really interested in a statement he made. His comment was "If you irrigate it's not terroir. If you irrigate it's a piece of land where you grow something." Thoughts from the growers, winemakers, or anyone else?
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#2 Post by D@vid Bu3ker »

I really cannot argue with it, except perhaps in establishing new vines.
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#3 Post by Alan Rath »

“If it rains during the growing season, it’s not terroir”
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#4 Post by D@vid Bu3ker »

Alan Rath wrote: March 30th, 2021, 4:57 pm “If it rains during the growing season, it’s not terroir”
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#5 Post by Drew Goin »

Perhaps Monsieur Brunier should check this out.

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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#6 Post by jtfriedman »

I wonder if this in the context of winemakers that have the option to irrigate or not. In that case, I understand.

But in the case of producers from Ribera del Duero, for example, where irrigation is generally necessary? I can't really see Brunier shitting on that. If he is, then boo. French gatekeeping merde.
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#7 Post by Kent Comley »

Pass the popcorn.

If you leaf pluck, it's not terroir!
If you green harvest, it's not terroir!

If you don't farm like we do, then it's not terroir!
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#8 Post by D@vid Bu3ker »

jtfriedman wrote: March 30th, 2021, 5:03 pm I wonder if this in the context of winemakers that have the option to irrigate or not. In that case, I understand.

But in the case of producers from Ribera del Duero, for example, where irrigation is generally necessary? I can't really see Brunier shitting on that. If he is, then boo. French gatekeeping merde.
OK, going to stir the pot myself...if a region does not get enough rain to grow a crop, is the “terroir” really worthy of that crop?

It’s not just grapes. Look at the almonds that suck up so much water in California. It’s complete BS.
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#9 Post by Jon Drummond »

Pretty silly comment.

If anything:
-If you chaptalise (adds alcohol with sugar not from the vineyard), it's not terroir.
-If you use reverse osmosis (changes the result given from the vineyard), it's not terroir.
-If you use any new oak (adds flavour from a tree not from the vineyard), it's not terroir.

Irrigation actually appears to be the most terroir-neutral process here. Most of the vegetables and fruits we eat need irrigation, they don't get lots of sugar or oak added to them.

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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#10 Post by Oliver McCrum »

There are regions with soils that drain so freely that judicious irrigation is viewed as improving wine quality, such as the Alto Adige.

Maybe he's saying 'I don't need to irrigate, so it's better not to.'
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#11 Post by Anton D »

D@vid Bu3ker wrote: March 30th, 2021, 5:10 pm
jtfriedman wrote: March 30th, 2021, 5:03 pm I wonder if this in the context of winemakers that have the option to irrigate or not. In that case, I understand.

But in the case of producers from Ribera del Duero, for example, where irrigation is generally necessary? I can't really see Brunier shitting on that. If he is, then boo. French gatekeeping merde.
OK, going to stir the pot myself...if a region does not get enough rain to grow a crop, is the “terroir” really worthy of that crop?

It’s not just grapes. Look at the almonds that suck up so much water in California. It’s complete BS.
Unless a grape vine occurs naturally in a given spot, it's not a true expression terroir.

Unless a wine is made with yeast that naturally occurs on a given vine, it is not a true expression of terroir.

Unless a grape naturally grows inside an oak tree, then oak exposure is not a true expression of terroir.

Sorting grapes does not allow for true expression of terroir.

Unless an egg from a chicken who lives in the vineyard is used for fining, it is not an expression of true terroir.

Funny topic!
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#12 Post by jtfriedman »

D@vid Bu3ker wrote: March 30th, 2021, 5:10 pm
jtfriedman wrote: March 30th, 2021, 5:03 pm I wonder if this in the context of winemakers that have the option to irrigate or not. In that case, I understand.

But in the case of producers from Ribera del Duero, for example, where irrigation is generally necessary? I can't really see Brunier shitting on that. If he is, then boo. French gatekeeping merde.
OK, going to stir the pot myself...if a region does not get enough rain to grow a crop, is the “terroir” really worthy of that crop?

It’s not just grapes. Look at the almonds that suck up so much water in California. It’s complete BS.
I hear what you're saying, and believe me, I opt for as little intervention as possible. But now we're getting into a conversation about ethics in farming, which is different from if you can or cannot sense terroir when irrigation is involved. Not too tough to pick up Ribera in a blind, it's a very specific wine, and that specificity of character in itself is enough for me to say that irrigation is not necessarily antithetical to terroir.
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#13 Post by Chris C a r y »

Eastern Washington irrigates grapes, and most other crops. Some minimal dry farming around Walla Walla, Chelan maybe, but I’d guess 95+% wine grapes are irrigated. I’m biased in favor of irrigation since I like local wine, food, and beer. About 75% of America’s hops are grown here w irrigation.

To add to the other lists, training, pruning, spraying, thinning, planting in rows to affect sun angles, etc could all be considered intervention in the growing process affecting terroir.
Last edited by Chris C a r y on March 30th, 2021, 5:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#14 Post by Marshall Manning »

jtfriedman wrote: March 30th, 2021, 5:03 pm I wonder if this in the context of winemakers that have the option to irrigate or not. In that case, I understand.

But in the case of producers from Ribera del Duero, for example, where irrigation is generally necessary? I can't really see Brunier shitting on that. If he is, then boo. French gatekeeping merde.
I'm not sure this is just a French sentiment? There are producers all over the world (including some new world ones) who refuse to irrigate, believing that it's not in the best interests of the wine they produce.
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#15 Post by Marshall Manning »

Jon Drummond wrote: March 30th, 2021, 5:13 pm Pretty silly comment.

If anything:
-If you chaptalise (adds alcohol with sugar not from the vineyard), it's not terroir.
-If you use reverse osmosis (changes the result given from the vineyard), it's not terroir.
-If you use any new oak (adds flavour from a tree not from the vineyard), it's not terroir.

Irrigation actually appears to be the most terroir-neutral process here. Most of the vegetables and fruits we eat need irrigation, they don't get lots of sugar or oak added to them.
Vieux Telegraphe does none of these, BTW, unless they need to buy a new barrel if one needs replacment.
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#16 Post by Marshall Manning »

Alan Rath wrote: March 30th, 2021, 4:57 pm “If it rains during the growing season, it’s not terroir”
I like this definition of terroir, from Musings on the Vine: "In a larger context, wine tasters try to define terroir as the specificity of place, which has come to include not only the soil in a region, but also the climate, the weather, the aspect of the vineyards and anything else that can possibly differentiate one piece of land from another."
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#17 Post by ChrisJames »

Marshall Manning wrote: March 30th, 2021, 5:40 pm
jtfriedman wrote: March 30th, 2021, 5:03 pm I wonder if this in the context of winemakers that have the option to irrigate or not. In that case, I understand.

But in the case of producers from Ribera del Duero, for example, where irrigation is generally necessary? I can't really see Brunier shitting on that. If he is, then boo. French gatekeeping merde.
I'm not sure this is just a French sentiment? There are producers all over the world (including some new world ones) who refuse to irrigate, believing that it's not in the best interests of the wine they produce.
Uh...like the Deep Roots Coalition in Oregon? They include one or two familiar names.

http://www.deeprootscoalition.org/

We promote sustainable and terroir-driven viticulture without irrigation.

MEMBERS
Our current members include winemakers and vineyard growers from the Willamette Valley. Please visit their websites below.

Arlyn

Anne Amie Vineyards

Apolloni Vineyards

Ayres Vineyard

Beckham Estate Vineyard

Belle Pente Vineyard

Brick House Vineyard

Brooks Winery

Cameron Winery

Carabella Vineyard

Carlo & Julian

Crowley Wines

EIEIO & Company

Evening Land

Evesham Wood Winery

Eyrie Vineyards

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Goodfellow Family Cellars / Matello Wines

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J.K. Carriere Wines

Kelley Fox Wines

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Patton Valley Vineyards

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Trisaetum

Twill Cellars

Vincent Wine Company

Walter Scott Wines

Westrey Winery

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Tyson Crowley, President, Crowley Wines

John Paul, Founder, Cameron Winery

Russ Raney, Founder

Marcus Goodfellow, Goodfellow Family Cellars

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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#18 Post by D@vid Bu3ker »

Anton D wrote: March 30th, 2021, 5:25 pm
D@vid Bu3ker wrote: March 30th, 2021, 5:10 pm
jtfriedman wrote: March 30th, 2021, 5:03 pm I wonder if this in the context of winemakers that have the option to irrigate or not. In that case, I understand.

But in the case of producers from Ribera del Duero, for example, where irrigation is generally necessary? I can't really see Brunier shitting on that. If he is, then boo. French gatekeeping merde.
OK, going to stir the pot myself...if a region does not get enough rain to grow a crop, is the “terroir” really worthy of that crop?

It’s not just grapes. Look at the almonds that suck up so much water in California. It’s complete BS.
Unless a grape vine occurs naturally in a given spot, it's not a true expression terroir.

Unless a wine is made with yeast that naturally occurs on a given vine, it is not a true expression of terroir.

Unless a grape naturally grows inside an oak tree, then oak exposure is not a true expression of terroir.

Sorting grapes does not allow for true expression of terroir.

Unless an egg from a chicken who lives in the vineyard is used for fining, it is not an expression of true terroir.

Funny topic!
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#19 Post by Cris Whetstone »

While I understand what he means, if a proprietor puts "terroir" ahead of the wine by refusing to irrigate when it could mean a better product then I find it burdensome and tiresome. Terroir or the amorphous "sense of place" shouldn't be the final goal if it gets in the way way of making your best wine. If we follow such logic to it's reductive, didactic and burdensome end then any decision that doesn't amount to letting the grapes fall into non reactive vessels directly from the vines and pouring it into bottles without any other procedure or technique in between is not terroir.

Make informed and thoughtful decisions about how to make the best wine from your vineyard while not being a slave to dogma. Thanks.
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#20 Post by Phil T r o t t e r »

There has been numerous threads lately on terroir: definition, expression, lack of, etc. Always the same question: what is your definition of terroir? Unless there is a consensus, the same discussion will take place. Not a bad thing but kind of groundhog day...

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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#21 Post by Rodrigo B »

I think it’s important to recognise that in many European regions appellation laws prohibit or limit the use of irrigation. So there is some bias by many producers in those regions towards irrigation, especially if that's further seeded into a long history of dry farming.

There are whole wine regions that are really only possible because of irrigation. Mendoza in Argentina comes to the top of my mind.

You can obviously opine on whether a particular farming practice yields better or worst wines, but even then it’s so dependent on the circumstances of the region, climate, soil, and others that such a broad blanket statement is rather silly.

I find this like other comments on other winemaking decisions like usage of oak. There are many other variables come into play regarding its impact on the final wine, that it’s rather superficial claim to make. One would be much better suited taking a more holistic view on their wines and making decisions based on what would yield a better wine, rather than focusing on sweeping generalisations.
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#22 Post by ChrisJames »

I've had this discussion a number of times with Oregon winemakers (See: Dry Roots Coalition). In its very simple form, without irrigation, roots are forced to dig deep into the ground, thus encountering various geological layers of soil and minerals which impart more complex flavors to the grapes and wine. Vines that are not required to do this will say close to the surface thus missing out on the soil minerals found deeper. One person I was discussing this with said that they had pulled out some vines that had always been irrigated. The roots went down about 18 inches and then actually curved back towards the surface (their easy source of water). So do the irrigated vines reflect terroir? Yes. Literally surface terroir. The non-irrigation proponents are saying that below the surface is a deeper, more complex terroir which more fully reflect the place.

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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#23 Post by Marshall Manning »

Rodrigo B wrote: March 30th, 2021, 6:19 pm There are whole wine regions that are really only possible because of irrigation. Mendoza in Argentina comes to the top of my mind.
But maybe they shouldn't be growing wine grapes there? That's my take on the original quote. The old phrase "Just because you CAN doesn't mean you SHOULD" comes to mind. Modern methods make it possible to grow grapes in Walla Walla. But if wine grapes wouldn't grow there naturally is it really the best place to make wine?
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#24 Post by Phil T r o t t e r »

Marshall Manning wrote: March 30th, 2021, 7:05 pm But if wine grapes wouldn't grow there naturally is it really the best place to make wine?
I live in Canada. During winter. Electric heating. Maybe humans shouldn't live there.
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#25 Post by ChrisJames »

Phil T r o t t e r wrote: March 30th, 2021, 7:10 pm
Marshall Manning wrote: March 30th, 2021, 7:05 pm But if wine grapes wouldn't grow there naturally is it really the best place to make wine?
I live in Canada. During winter. Electric heating. Maybe humans shouldn't live there.
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#26 Post by Chris C a r y »

Does planting grafted vines affect terroir?

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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#27 Post by Rodrigo B »

Marshall Manning wrote: March 30th, 2021, 7:05 pm
Rodrigo B wrote: March 30th, 2021, 6:19 pm There are whole wine regions that are really only possible because of irrigation. Mendoza in Argentina comes to the top of my mind.
But maybe they shouldn't be growing wine grapes there? That's my take on the original quote. The old phrase "Just because you CAN doesn't mean you SHOULD" comes to mind. Modern methods make it possible to grow grapes in Walla Walla. But if wine grapes wouldn't grow there naturally is it really the best place to make wine?
There’s no doubt that some places are more apt for grape growing than others. I'm no arguing against that. However just because a region didn’t grow wine before and technology enabled it to grow wine doesn’t in of itself mean that that region isn’t allowed to grow wine or that it can’t make wine that’s evocative of a sense of place. Someone else mentioned Alto-Adige, another region in which many wines have arguable been improved by the introduction of irrigation.

Comments eschewing of modern technology always somewhat irk me because it comes across to me as a bit hypocritical, where some producers are allowed to pick and arbitrarily choose which modern methods and technologies they implement to produce “terroir-driven” wines, but other methods or technologies they disagree with can't possible be used to make terroir-driven wines by other producers elsewhere. Irrigation is not ok, but temp-controlled stainless steel tanks are ok. Use of new oak is not ok, but commercial yeast strains is, batonnage is ok here, but not there, etc.

Each region and winemaker is presented with their own unique set of circumstances’ and I think just broadly disavowing one method or technology is a bit short sighted. As I said, winemaking is much better viewed in a holistic manner where one is making decisions based on what they feel will yield the best wine. In some cases that involves irrigation, or new oak, or some other controversial technique.

At the end of the day, the proof is in the pudding as they say. If one can taste a wine and it evokes a sense of place, then I think that winemaker has been successful in transmitting across the wine’s terroir, regardless of what techniques they used.
Last edited by Rodrigo B on March 30th, 2021, 9:00 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#28 Post by Jim Anderson »

Ah, the angels dancing on the head of a pin stuff. Fabulous. A lot of stuff here is either obtuse or trolling. Hard to figure out. The “there’s no terroir if anything happened ever” stuff is hilarious or annoying. It’s not worth addressing in this context where the majority of the posts seem to be simply looking to pick an argument.
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#29 Post by Wes Barton »

Rodrigo B wrote: March 30th, 2021, 6:19 pm I think it’s important to recognise that in many European regions appellation laws prohibit or limit the use of irrigation. So there is some bias by many producers in those regions towards irrigation, especially if that's further seeded into a long history of dry farming.

There are whole wine regions that are really only possible because of irrigation. Mendoza in Argentina comes to the top of my mind.

You can obviously opine on whether a particular farming practice yields better or worst wines, but even then it’s so dependent on the circumstances of the region, climate, soil, and others that such a broad blanket statement is rather silly.

I find this like other comments on other winemaking decisions like usage of oak. There are many other variables come into play regarding its impact on the final wine, that it’s rather superficial claim to make. One would be much better suited taking a more holistic view on their wines and making decisions based on what would yield a better wine, rather than focusing on sweeping generalisations.
It is like using oak. It can be done well or done poorly (as in Chris' example). You can encourage deep rooting with irrigation and you can discourage deep rooting with dumb irrigation. (Dry farmers with a very deep water table can train the roots down to the water, which may take years, with them needing irrigation to survive in the meantime. Maybe after reaching the general water table, they still may need a little supplement once or twice a decade.)
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#30 Post by David K o l i n »

Is pruning OK?

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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#31 Post by Jim Anderson »

David K o l i n wrote: March 30th, 2021, 7:52 pm Is pruning OK?
No. Nor is planting. If the indigenously existing grape doesn’t grow directly into a pre-corked wine bottle as perfectly fermented wine it’s not legit.
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#32 Post by Paul Gordon »

Marshall Manning wrote: March 30th, 2021, 4:54 pm I was listening to one of the Dalton podcasts with Daniel Brunier of Vieux Telegraphe, and was really interested in a statement he made. His comment was "If you irrigate it's not terroir. If you irrigate it's a piece of land where you grow something." Thoughts from the growers, winemakers, or anyone else?
If you have to spray fungicides it is not terroir ...

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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#33 Post by PeterH »

You have to be careful if you want to tread on only the purest path. I've heard the claim that human agriculture is the worst thing that ever happened to this beautiful planet, and there is plenty of merit to the claim.
If you take the giant step to consider our selfish needs superior to the needs of the non-human biosphere, you can try with great difficulty to compare the means and methods of keeping ourselves satisfied to the maximum, while keeping damage to the minimum.
To water or not water those damned non-native grape varieties is not a major existential question, but as is the case with everything, there are better and worse ways to handle the problem. For wine lovers, the ends-superior wine- justifies the means, and long as the means are not destructive to the local and global ecosystem. Irrigation fits on both the good side and bad side in my semi-informed opinion. Obviously, less is better. I don't know where to draw the line.
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Te rroir..."

#34 Post by RTP Latham Richard »

If you are irrigating with reasonably pure water, is that not like rainfull? Also if the rainfall in a place is really low, how do you make wine without irrigation ? (Of course some areas seldom need it). Not many years ago I had a very enjoyable Cab called something like Osoyoos Larose (I am unsure about the last part). The wine was very good and I would have said it had terroir. Osoyoos in B.C. is the only true desert in Canada as far as I know (other areas with little precipitation are too cold). There would have been no wine from Osoyoos without irrigation. RTPL
Last edited by RTP Latham Richard on March 30th, 2021, 11:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#35 Post by PeterH »

Irrigation is not like rainfall. It is applied at different times, in different places, and different amounts. I can't think of any ways irrigation delivers water to deep roots only when the ground above is dry.
It takes energy to move the water, and the irrigation process can deplete ground water. In the Columbia basin depends on a hugely disruptive series of dams.

One can easily argue that the irrigated vineyards of the Columbia basin are lacking in terroir compared to areas that need no irrigation. As you say, no irrigation in the desert, no wine. The judgement is made that the grapes are good enough, maybe even great. Terroir is not the be all and end all. The overall cost to the environment is something to consider, along with multiple other factors.
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#36 Post by Otto Forsberg »

Jon Drummond wrote: March 30th, 2021, 5:13 pm Pretty silly comment.

If anything:
-If you chaptalise (adds alcohol with sugar not from the vineyard), it's not terroir.
-If you use reverse osmosis (changes the result given from the vineyard), it's not terroir.
-If you use any new oak (adds flavour from a tree not from the vineyard), it's not terroir.
Pretty weird comment.

I don't think anybody would contend the fact that none of these are considered to be part of terroir.

And I'm with David in that irrigation isn't part of terroir - but if a region does not get enough rain to grow a crop, its "terroir" might not be worthy of that crop, but the wines might be. I wouldn't call them terroir-driven wines, but they can be great wines all the same. Not all great wines necessarily have to be terroir wines as well. After all, many people love Grange and that wine is as anti-terroir as they come.
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#37 Post by HenryB »

I appreciate that water isnt the only thing that impacts the wine that is produced between years, but isnt a key part of this too to make vintages more distinct from each other? If you allow irrigation, and then allow (say) heat lamps, at some point you're just producing homogenous wine under controlled circumstances.

Again, nothing wrong with that, if that's what consumers want and are willing to pay the money for, all good. But I'd say evidence says people like the 'art' of making a fine wine in a great year, and how comparatively rare that is against decent wine in a good year, or good wine even in a mediocre year.
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#38 Post by James Billy »

Otto Forsberg wrote: March 30th, 2021, 11:49 pm
Jon Drummond wrote: March 30th, 2021, 5:13 pm Pretty silly comment.

If anything:
-If you chaptalise (adds alcohol with sugar not from the vineyard), it's not terroir.
-If you use reverse osmosis (changes the result given from the vineyard), it's not terroir.
-If you use any new oak (adds flavour from a tree not from the vineyard), it's not terroir.
Pretty weird comment.

I don't think anybody would contend the fact that none of these are considered to be part of terroir.

And I'm with David in that irrigation isn't part of terroir - but if a region does not get enough rain to grow a crop, its "terroir" might not be worthy of that crop, but the wines might be. I wouldn't call them terroir-driven wines, but they can be great wines all the same. Not all great wines necessarily have to be terroir wines as well. After all, many people love Grange and that wine is as anti-terroir as they come.
Not weird at all.

Why is artificially watering vines worse than artificially affecting any other area of viticulture or winemaking.

If irrigation obliterated terroir all irrigated vines produced wine would, by definition, taste the same

I could nuance my argument, Otto, but that would spoil you fun. neener

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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#39 Post by James Billy »

HenryB wrote: March 31st, 2021, 12:59 am I appreciate that water isnt the only thing that impacts the wine that is produced between years, but isnt a key part of this too to make vintages more distinct from each other? If you allow irrigation, and then allow (say) heat lamps, at some point you're just producing homogenous wine under controlled circumstances.

Again, nothing wrong with that, if that's what consumers want and are willing to pay the money for, all good. But I'd say evidence says people like the 'art' of making a fine wine in a great year, and how comparatively rare that is against decent wine in a good year, or good wine even in a mediocre year.
I don't think many of the above replies disagree with you, but they state dozens of equally valid other interventions that these AOC winemakers often make that aren't derided as being anti-terroir.

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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#40 Post by Otto Forsberg »

James Billy wrote: March 31st, 2021, 1:32 am Not weird at all.

Why is artificially watering vines worse than artificially affecting any other area of viticulture or winemaking.

If irrigation obliterated terroir all irrigated vines produced wine would, by definition, taste the same

I could nuance my argument, Otto, but that would spoil you fun. neener
Who has said that irrigation is worse? Or irrigation obliterated terroir?

Sounds like you're arguing now with a straw man strawman
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#41 Post by D@vid Bu3ker »

Terroir - great straw man starter or the greatest straw man starter?
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#42 Post by Phil T r o t t e r »

ChrisJames wrote: March 30th, 2021, 7:23 pm Don't tell the aborigines that. They seem to have done just fine for thousands of years.
True that. I wouldn't last one winter. It seems I am not terroir driven.

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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#43 Post by Brian Gilp »

ChrisJames wrote: March 30th, 2021, 6:48 pm I've had this discussion a number of times with Oregon winemakers (See: Dry Roots Coalition). In its very simple form, without irrigation, roots are forced to dig deep into the ground, thus encountering various geological layers of soil and minerals which impart more complex flavors to the grapes and wine. Vines that are not required to do this will say close to the surface thus missing out on the soil minerals found deeper. One person I was discussing this with said that they had pulled out some vines that had always been irrigated. The roots went down about 18 inches and then actually curved back towards the surface (their easy source of water). So do the irrigated vines reflect terroir? Yes. Literally surface terroir. The non-irrigation proponents are saying that below the surface is a deeper, more complex terroir which more fully reflect the place.
I don’t believe this is a universal truth. My home vineyard (east coast, 37 inches rain annual ave) is all planted on either 101-14 or riparia rootstock. Spacing is 3 X 3 and soil is largely sand and well drained. Oldest vines are now on their 15th leaf. I have never irrigated not even to establish first year vines*. When I have had to pull out vines, I have noted that roots are primarily contained within the first 18 inches with one layer just below the surface and the other about 12-18 inches down. I haven’t yet had to remove a vine that had significant root structure at the much below the 2 foot mark. I attribute this to the rootstock. Both rootstocks are known to be shallow rooted and used to reduce vine vigor. So I believe that rootstock matters as well as soil structure and irrigation when discussing root depth and any impact it has on the final product.

*Two exceptions for irrigation. The roussanne is drought prone and will require irrigation during long periods without rain during the summer or fall. It is the only of the 17 varieties that I grow/have grown that has this issue. Also, there is a section of vineyard that is roughly 20’ X 20’ that drains exceptionally well and will show drought stress when the rest of the vineyard is fine.

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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#44 Post by Greg Kramer »

Marshall Manning wrote: March 30th, 2021, 7:05 pm
Rodrigo B wrote: March 30th, 2021, 6:19 pm There are whole wine regions that are really only possible because of irrigation. Mendoza in Argentina comes to the top of my mind.
But maybe they shouldn't be growing wine grapes there? That's my take on the original quote. The old phrase "Just because you CAN doesn't mean you SHOULD" comes to mind. Modern methods make it possible to grow grapes in Walla Walla. But if wine grapes wouldn't grow there naturally is it really the best place to make wine?
The challenge in such an argument is in defining the parameters. Carrying your questions further, should much of Europe not be growing vines because its rootstocks can't fend off phylloxera?

Not to mention, how many European vines are truly indigenous to the region in which they are growing? Many were transported from elsewhere and planted in their current locale. I think many of us are guilty of defining terroir (i.e., a wine tasting like where it comes from) by our own frame of reference for it.

I think I could view M. Brunier's comment with more validity if he had talked about irrigation with respect to best practices rather than terroir.
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#45 Post by Howard Cooper »

I am going to take a different tack. I think of climate as being part of terroir but not weather (which is part of vintage). I think of irrigation as being more impacting weather, so vintage, rather than climate, or terroir. I guess it could be argued the opposite way, but most farming practices impact terroir, vintage, etc., as all of you have said.
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#46 Post by Marshall Manning »

Greg Kramer wrote: March 31st, 2021, 5:56 am The challenge in such an argument is in defining the parameters. Carrying your questions further, should much of Europe not be growing vines because its rootstocks can't fend off phylloxera?

Not to mention, how many European vines are truly indigenous to the region in which they are growing? Many were transported from elsewhere and planted in their current locale. I think many of us are guilty of defining terroir (i.e., a wine tasting like where it comes from) by our own frame of reference for it.

I think I could view M. Brunier's comment with more validity if he had talked about irrigation with respect to best practices rather than terroir.
Obviously I don't know Daniel's position on these questions, but I would personally say that none of these things negate the concept of terroir. Using Oregon as an example, I think that terroir can be expressed here very well, by some of those who post on this board, and others. And they are obviously doing so using non-native grapes. Grapes can express terroir whether it's their native region or not.

Anything that is done in the winery isn't terroir, only processes that will mask or accent the terroir.

As Henry said above, it's definitely possible to make quality wine using irrigation, and I don't think Daniel was trying to imply otherwise (it was a couple of quick sentences in an hour long interview...Levi didn't lead him on it any more). I think his question is whether it's authentic terroir, in the French sense of soil, climate, aspect, wind, weather, etc.
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#47 Post by Peter Chiu »

Jim Anderson wrote: March 30th, 2021, 7:35 pm Ah, the angels dancing on the head of a pin stuff. Fabulous. A lot of stuff here is either obtuse or trolling. Hard to figure out. The “there’s no terroir if anything happened ever” stuff is hilarious or annoying. It’s not worth addressing in this context where the majority of the posts seem to be simply looking to pick an argument.

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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#48 Post by J a y H a c k »

Another topic I do not care about. If it tastes good, I like it. If it doesn't taste good, I do not like it. The opinion of the French Wine Fascists on the "right" way to make wine is irrelevant. Do you think I care whether they irrigated the vineyard 55 years ago?

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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#49 Post by Marshall Manning »

J a y H a c k wrote: March 31st, 2021, 8:20 am Another topic I do not care about. If it tastes good, I like it. If it doesn't taste good, I do not like it. The opinion of the French Wine Fascists on the "right" way to make wine is irrelevant. Do you think I care whether they irrigated the vineyard 55 years ago?

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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#50 Post by Markus S »

"If you the juice doesn't ferment in your stomach, it's not wine."
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