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

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

#101 Post by Vincent Fritzsche »

I find that irrigation is mostly about control that is not really related to wine terroir. That’s really the issue. People mostly water to ensure yields. They water because the vines might look like they need it if they don’t. They water to deliver other inputs to the vine. They water because it’s on the schedule. But you generally don’t need to do it, even with our dry summers. I find I’m just not interested in it, and it turns out irrigation is a good bell weather for a whole host of farming intentions. Are you trying to subjugate a place to your desires - are you looking to “dial in” the brix you want? - or are you trying to allow the vines and wines to grow up to be their best and most delicious selves of this place? I’m interested in the latter and it’s not marketing bullshit because most people’s eyes glaze over hearing that. It’s honestly the motivating factor and faith in doing all this work.
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#102 Post by Gabe Berk »

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?
A purist may think that, but reality is they are throwing away what matter the most, which is the land said roots and vine are growing in. We're not talking about vines being grown in an indoor hot house. A little water pre harvest to give the vines a drink doesn't dismiss terroir in my opinion. Or the rootstock parentage, vine cutting or cover crop (which may have been brought in a couple hundred years ago from settlers), etc, etc.

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

#103 Post by Vince T »

Eric Lundblad wrote: March 31st, 2021, 10:54 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.
Actually, almonds aren't the water issue they're cracked up to be.

My dad grew up on a farm in the central CA valley. We grew up in El Cerrito (SF East Bay), where my Dad was a Biochemist (blood proteins mostly). But, he kept/got ownership/control of the farm he grew up on, and farmed it remotely (with some of my help, he said I was a help at the time tho I wonder how much in retrospect!).

Almonds are a fairly profitable crop, esp compared to row crops...which is mostly what we grew (except for a small section of Walnuts). It all depends on the fertility of the dirt...it needs to be high for Almonds and such. Kidney beans aren't so demanding. From the small vegetable/etc market (Monterrey Market in Berkeley), my Dad discovered that, at the time, all of the beans for bean sprouts at the time, a 'few' years ago, were imported from China (and similar). My dad was the first in Ca, at the time at least, to grow those beans, and sold them to someone local that sprouted them and sold them to the Monterrey Market et al.

Anyways, Almonds are a very profitable crop compared to growing beans and such. So the farming regulations are different, to 'even' things out a bit. For example, in most areas, Almonds aren't allowed to use drip irrigation, and have to use flood irrigation instead. Drip is more efficient and allows a much higher density of planting of trees...but with flood irrigation, the majority of the flood irrigation water replenishes the aquafer, aquafer health being a significant issue.
Yeah, almonds get a bad rap for CA water usage but there are far bigger villains.

Alfalfa and pasture for cows use up 8.3 million acre-feet of water (270 billion gallons), more than twice what is used by almonds and pistachios combined. And rice, which is easy to grow elsewhere at low cost, eg Thailand, is perhaps the worst crop to grow in terms of economic value - it produces less than a third of crop value per acre foot of water than almonds.

CA produces 80% of the world’s supply of almonds, which is kind of amazing. Not sure there are many single geography crops that supply such a large % of the world.

Resources here:

http://www.takepart.com/article/2015/05 ... ter-users/

https://fruitgrowers.com/what-californi ... ost-water/
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#104 Post by Marcus Goodfellow »

Mel Knox wrote: April 3rd, 2021, 11:36 am Marcus,

There is no shortage of people in the wine trade who will borrow your watch, tell you what time it is and then send you the bill.

The Fruition Sciences folks are very good at this! I have seen the results of their work with vineyards and I was impressed. They also love to stage seminars and get other vendors to pay for it!

We have two questions here:

Terroir and Irrigation

Wine Quality and Irrigation


Since everyone has a personal notion of what terroir means, that subject can be discussed ad infinitum without getting very far.

Wine quality is another story. I have seen everything and don't believe in generalizations. I've seen great wines at nine tons to the acre and crappy wines at two tons.
I've seen great wines from irrigated and dry farmed vines. And bad wines from both.


I am reminded of the french term 'lutte raisonnee'...and don't wine things sound better in French! Essentially it means we will spray if we have to, but otherwise we will leave it alone. But hey, I've got a family to feed and I am not going to make them starve because I don't believe in spraying.

We are headed into a drought year--again--so many will have to triage their vineyards and decide which ones will be irrigated and which ones won't produce wine quality fruit.

I’m with you on “lutte raisonnee”, it’s the term we live by most(in my opinion).

Same for wine quality, but even that is so subjective. There are just so many preferences.

And I would also reference John Williams at Frog’s Leap again. He has been dry farmed in Napa for a long time now.
Last edited by Marcus Goodfellow on April 3rd, 2021, 4:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#105 Post by Eric Lundblad »

Similar to what Vincent said, water/rain/irrigation isn't nearly the contributor to terroir (referring to the specific quality/character of the water, not the amount) that the soil, slope, position of the vineyard are. And, with the exception of well water or similar, its contribution is regional (both rain and irrigation) rather than anything vineyard terroir specific. Not that a regional character isn't important, but rain and irrigation would possess that similarly.

Too much water (or too little, or alternating between these during a vintage) certainly has a huge impact on the health/character/quality of the vine/grapes/wine. But too much/little/etc isn't good when it's from rain and bad from irrigation, and the variability doesn't contribute to terroir...vintage character yes, but not terroir.

I find the comments here that growers who irrigate automatically/generally slip into high irrigation (to boost yields/etc) to be amazing and isn't my experience, esp from owner managed vineyards. There are revenue focused growers out there, and quality focused growers. Both have a place in the world, unless they try to switch their strategy from year to year, but those will likely go out of business, just like any business that frequently changes its 'core competencies'.
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#106 Post by RichardFlack »

So, the answer about irrigation is, it’s a matter of degree?
Glad that’s sorted.

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

#107 Post by RichardFlack »

Er, silly question. (I don’t grow grapes or make wine, obviously).

“If you prune the vines it’s not terroir”. ???

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

#108 Post by Eric Lundblad »

Vince T wrote: April 3rd, 2021, 1:59 pm
Yeah, almonds get a bad rap for CA water usage but there are far bigger villains.

Alfalfa and pasture for cows use up 8.3 million acre-feet of water (270 billion gallons), more than twice what is used by almonds and pistachios combined. And rice, which is easy to grow elsewhere at low cost, eg Thailand, is perhaps the worst crop to grow in terms of economic value - it produces less than a third of crop value per acre foot of water than almonds.

CA produces 80% of the world’s supply of almonds, which is kind of amazing. Not sure there are many single geography crops that supply such a large % of the world.

Resources here:

http://www.takepart.com/article/2015/05 ... ter-users/

https://fruitgrowers.com/what-californi ... ost-water/
Completely agree...esp with rice!
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#109 Post by Marcus Goodfellow »

Gabe Berk wrote: April 3rd, 2021, 1:56 pm
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?
A purist may think that, but reality is they are throwing away what matter the most, which is the land said roots and vine are growing in. We're not talking about vines being grown in an indoor hot house. A little water pre harvest to give the vines a drink doesn't dismiss terroir in my opinion. Or the rootstock parentage, vine cutting or cover crop (which may have been brought in a couple hundred years ago from settlers), etc, etc.
Unless you don’t actually need to water. In which case you’re throwing away nothing.

It’s funny how often people assume there is actually a need to irrigate.

In some places, sure. But a lot fewer than actually get irrigated.
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#110 Post by Marcus Goodfellow »

Eric Lundblad wrote: April 3rd, 2021, 4:52 pm Similar to what Vincent said, water/rain/irrigation isn't nearly the contributor to terroir (referring to the specific quality/character of the water, not the amount) that the soil, slope, position of the vineyard are. And, with the exception of well water or similar, its contribution is regional (both rain and irrigation) rather than anything vineyard terroir specific. Not that a regional character isn't important, but rain and irrigation would possess that similarly.

Too much water (or too little, or alternating between these during a vintage) certainly has a huge impact on the health/character/quality of the vine/grapes/wine. But too much/little/etc isn't good when it's from rain and bad from irrigation, and the variability doesn't contribute to terroir...vintage character yes, but not terroir.

I find the comments here that growers who irrigate automatically/generally slip into high irrigation (to boost yields/etc) to be amazing and isn't my experience, esp from owner managed vineyards. There are revenue focused growers out there, and quality focused growers. Both have a place in the world, unless they try to switch their strategy from year to year, but those will likely go out of business, just like any business that frequently changes its 'core competencies'.
You’re assuming that rain or irrigation has to happen. No rain ever would indeed mean that you need to irrigate, but we can go the whole growing season from bloom to picking without a speck of rain and the vines do fine.

Pretending that irrigation=rain simply isn’t correct.
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#111 Post by Adam Lee »

Many vintages of VT have, to my taste, unacceptably high levels of brett - something that truly obfuscates terroir.

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

#112 Post by James Sanders »

Adam Lee wrote: April 4th, 2021, 2:58 am Many vintages of VT have, to my taste, unacceptably high levels of brett - something that truly obfuscates terroir.

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

#113 Post by Markus S »

Vincent Fritzsche wrote: April 3rd, 2021, 12:24 pm I find that irrigation is mostly about control that is not really related to wine terroir. That’s really the issue. People mostly water to ensure yields. They water because the vines might look like they need it if they don’t. They water to deliver other inputs to the vine. They water because it’s on the schedule. But you generally don’t need to do it, even with our dry summers. I find I’m just not interested in it, and it turns out irrigation is a good bell weather for a whole host of farming intentions. Are you trying to subjugate a place to your desires - are you looking to “dial in” the brix you want? - or are you trying to allow the vines and wines to grow up to be their best and most delicious selves of this place? I’m interested in the latter and it’s not marketing bullshit because most people’s eyes glaze over hearing that. It’s honestly the motivating factor and faith in doing all this work.
Sounds like people wanting to play God to me, not taking things on faith, but putting their trust into technological solutions instead of changing your perception to more humbly match what the environment can support.
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#114 Post by Markus S »

Vince T wrote: April 3rd, 2021, 1:59 pm
CA produces 80% of the world’s supply of almonds, which is kind of amazing. Not sure there are many single geography crops that supply such a large % of the world.
And without bees, California and their almonds would be screwed.
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#115 Post by Adam Lee »

James Sanders wrote: April 4th, 2021, 7:15 am
Adam Lee wrote: April 4th, 2021, 2:58 am Many vintages of VT have, to my taste, unacceptably high levels of brett - something that truly obfuscates terroir.

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I could be that, I supposed. It could also be that this thread is 3 pages long talking about different things that cause something to be "not terroir" and I added one to the list. Feel free to disagree and tell me how brett is reflective of terroir.

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

#116 Post by larry schaffer »

Adam Lee wrote: April 4th, 2021, 11:09 am
James Sanders wrote: April 4th, 2021, 7:15 am
Adam Lee wrote: April 4th, 2021, 2:58 am Many vintages of VT have, to my taste, unacceptably high levels of brett - something that truly obfuscates terroir.

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I could be that, I supposed. It could also be that this thread is 3 pages long talking about different things that cause something to be "not terroir" and I added one to the list. Feel free to disagree and tell me how brett is reflective of terroir.

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This topic - and this sub-topic - always seems to be so 'controversial' on this board, as it should be. First off, there is so much disagreement as to what brett 'is' - and everyone definitely defines what they smell and taste differently. Scientifically, we know what 'brett' is - but that does not mean that we agree on how it manifests itself. And then think of the fact that the same smell can be interpreted as 'pleasurable' or not based on what it reminds you of. Some people LOVE the smell of 'barnyard' and therefore have a positive thought of that small; others not so much so.

Then we need to remember that when it comes to brett, especially when we are dealing with wines that are bottled unfiltered and that get shipped long distances, there is bound to be lots of 'variability' in these bottlings, and therefore, we may be talking about the same 'wine' but NOT the same 'bottles' and therefore 'comparing and contrasting' is very difficult to do.

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

#117 Post by D@vid Bu3ker »

Adam Lee wrote: April 4th, 2021, 11:09 am
James Sanders wrote: April 4th, 2021, 7:15 am
Adam Lee wrote: April 4th, 2021, 2:58 am Many vintages of VT have, to my taste, unacceptably high levels of brett - something that truly obfuscates terroir.

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I could be that, I supposed. It could also be that this thread is 3 pages long talking about different things that cause something to be "not terroir" and I added one to the list. Feel free to disagree and tell me how brett is reflective of terroir.

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I have never had a VT that exhibited notable brett. Some other CNdP (e.g. Pegau, Beaucastel), but not VT.
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#118 Post by larry schaffer »

And David, I agree - but have not had any recent vintages

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

#119 Post by JDavisRoby »

If you irrigate with water from a well located in/adjacent to the vineyard are you impacting the terroir differently than if the water is from a site miles away? What if the water is from a public source and has been treated with chemicals?
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#120 Post by D@vid Bu3ker »

If the winemaker is from out of state, it’s not terroir. ;)
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#121 Post by Jim Anderson »

JDavisRoby wrote: April 4th, 2021, 12:27 pm If you irrigate with water from a well located in/adjacent to the vineyard are you impacting the terroir differently than if the water is from a site miles away? What if the water is from a public source and has been treated with chemicals?
Been attempting to not say anything here, but this seems pretty basic. Vast areas in the Northern Willamette Valley wine region don’t have great access to water. I have a 3 gpm well and a 9 gpm well on the property. Currently we have a 3,000 gallon reservoir and are likely putting on another 10,000 gallon reservoir this summer. At 1,250 plants/acre (sort of the average density at the Estate Vineyard) one is likely using 500-600 gallons of water per acre per hour. Even if we only irrigated 20% of the vineyard a day for 5 hours/day we would still, in theory, go through 15,000-18,000 gallons of water/day. It’s not even possible where we are and given the other water demands that are critical, spraying the vineyard, winery demands, flushing toilets, etc., we would be insane to even consider trying this out. Sometimes it’s not a matter of principle (although it is) so much as it is a lack of the resource that is already stretched thin.
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#122 Post by Eric Lundblad »

JDavisRoby wrote: April 4th, 2021, 12:27 pm
What if the water is from a public source and has been treated with chemicals?
There are various chemicals that Ag water can be treated with, but none of the ag water that I'm familiar with is treated at the county/whatever level. I believe that's because it's expected that the farm/community/etc can treat (or not treat) the water however they want to using whichever of the various treatment options they prefer.
JDavisRoby wrote: April 4th, 2021, 12:27 pm If you irrigate with water from a well located in/adjacent to the vineyard are you impacting the terroir differently than if the water is from a site miles away?
Interesting and complicated question. Ultimately, water comes from the same rain and/or snow melt runoff whether it's well, ag or drinking water. But the soil likely changes the mineral content of the well water, so that likely would have an effect compared to rain or irrigation. So, from a terroir perspective, well water seems the most interesting...and rain vs irrigated being relatively similar and less than well.
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#123 Post by Marcus Goodfellow »

Markus S wrote: April 4th, 2021, 9:46 am
Vincent Fritzsche wrote: April 3rd, 2021, 12:24 pm I find that irrigation is mostly about control that is not really related to wine terroir. That’s really the issue. People mostly water to ensure yields. They water because the vines might look like they need it if they don’t. They water to deliver other inputs to the vine. They water because it’s on the schedule. But you generally don’t need to do it, even with our dry summers. I find I’m just not interested in it, and it turns out irrigation is a good bell weather for a whole host of farming intentions. Are you trying to subjugate a place to your desires - are you looking to “dial in” the brix you want? - or are you trying to allow the vines and wines to grow up to be their best and most delicious selves of this place? I’m interested in the latter and it’s not marketing bullshit because most people’s eyes glaze over hearing that. It’s honestly the motivating factor and faith in doing all this work.
Sounds like people wanting to play God to me, not taking things on faith, but putting their trust into technological solutions instead of changing your perception to more humbly match what the environment can support.
Yes...but it’s only fair to add that the people choosing to control the outcome rather than have faith in nature do have a considerable investment in the vines and fruit regardless of the outcome, and a quite competitive market awaiting them.
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#124 Post by Marcus Goodfellow »

Adam Lee wrote: April 4th, 2021, 11:09 am
James Sanders wrote: April 4th, 2021, 7:15 am
Adam Lee wrote: April 4th, 2021, 2:58 am Many vintages of VT have, to my taste, unacceptably high levels of brett - something that truly obfuscates terroir.

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I could be that, I supposed. It could also be that this thread is 3 pages long talking about different things that cause something to be "not terroir" and I added one to the list. Feel free to disagree and tell me how brett is reflective of terroir.

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...and thread drift, which is how I would see this since the op references irrigation specifically, is both enjoyable(to me) and broadens the conversation. And as a specific reference to VT, it’s not that much drift.

I’m with you on Brett laying on top of terroir like a sumo wrestler on a a daffodil. I might enjoy a bit of it in CdP, but it’s not terroir.
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#125 Post by Alan Rath »

Thomas DeBiase wrote: March 31st, 2021, 4:45 pm
Alan Rath wrote: March 30th, 2021, 4:57 pm “If it rains during the growing season, it’s not terroir”
I would argue the opposite... that is terroir. That's what the site and the climate provide.
So, if a grower waters just to mimic what some other site gets in rain, how are the two sites different? Isn’t that really what most quality vineyards are doing?
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#126 Post by Marcus Goodfellow »

Alan Rath wrote: April 4th, 2021, 4:44 pm
Thomas DeBiase wrote: March 31st, 2021, 4:45 pm
Alan Rath wrote: March 30th, 2021, 4:57 pm “If it rains during the growing season, it’s not terroir”
I would argue the opposite... that is terroir. That's what the site and the climate provide.
So, if a grower waters just to mimic what some other site gets in rain, how are the two sites different? Isn’t that really what most quality vineyards are doing?
Not really.

Site differentiation is extremely complex, even if you limit terroir to only geology, hydrology, and geography. Trying to replicate the impact of rain in one site via irrigation in another is a serious simplification of the natural process...and from a terroir standpoint it’s a headscratcher as to why you would want to make one vineyard similar to another.

Not to mention that higher yields come with irrigation, so it’s also a slippery slope from “mimic” to “enhance”. Higher yields with higher sugars usually means higher dollars...

You’re also assuming that rain in the second vineyard is necessary. And during the growing season in most climates, it’s not.
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#127 Post by Alan Rath »

Marcus Goodfellow wrote: April 4th, 2021, 4:58 pm
Alan Rath wrote: April 4th, 2021, 4:44 pm
Thomas DeBiase wrote: March 31st, 2021, 4:45 pm
I would argue the opposite... that is terroir. That's what the site and the climate provide.
So, if a grower waters just to mimic what some other site gets in rain, how are the two sites different? Isn’t that really what most quality vineyards are doing?
Not really.

Site differentiation is extremely complex, even if you limit terroir to only geology, hydrology, and geography. Trying to replicate the impact of rain in one site via irrigation in another is a serious simplification of the natural process...and from a terroir standpoint it’s a headscratcher as to why you would want to make one vineyard similar to another.

Not to mention that higher yields come with irrigation, so it’s also a slippery slope from “mimic” to “enhance”. Higher yields with higher sugars usually means higher dollars...

You’re also assuming that rain in the second vineyard is necessary. And during the growing season in most climates, it’s not.
So you would argue exactly the opposite, that rain masks the true terroir? Because that’s what you just said [stirthepothal.gif]

Just to make my position clear: I don’t really care what a grower does (within reason), as long as he produces fruit that makes great wine.
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#128 Post by Will Clements »

Adam Lee wrote: April 4th, 2021, 11:09 am
James Sanders wrote: April 4th, 2021, 7:15 am
Adam Lee wrote: April 4th, 2021, 2:58 am Many vintages of VT have, to my taste, unacceptably high levels of brett - something that truly obfuscates terroir.

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I could be that, I supposed. It could also be that this thread is 3 pages long talking about different things that cause something to be "not terroir" and I added one to the list. Feel free to disagree and tell me how brett is reflective of terroir.

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I don’t think brett is part of the terroir at all. I view it as a vineyard additive that some of us can tolerate at lower levels of the byproducts and some (like Emily) despises and looks at me like I’m ending our marriage when I ask her to drink a wine with some in it.

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

#129 Post by Marcus Goodfellow »

Alan Rath wrote: April 4th, 2021, 5:25 pm
Marcus Goodfellow wrote: April 4th, 2021, 4:58 pm
Alan Rath wrote: April 4th, 2021, 4:44 pm
So, if a grower waters just to mimic what some other site gets in rain, how are the two sites different? Isn’t that really what most quality vineyards are doing?
Not really.

Site differentiation is extremely complex, even if you limit terroir to only geology, hydrology, and geography. Trying to replicate the impact of rain in one site via irrigation in another is a serious simplification of the natural process...and from a terroir standpoint it’s a headscratcher as to why you would want to make one vineyard similar to another.

Not to mention that higher yields come with irrigation, so it’s also a slippery slope from “mimic” to “enhance”. Higher yields with higher sugars usually means higher dollars...

You’re also assuming that rain in the second vineyard is necessary. And during the growing season in most climates, it’s not.
So you would argue exactly the opposite, that rain masks the true terroir? Because that’s what you just said [stirthepothal.gif]

Just to make my position clear: I don’t really care what a grower does (within reason), as long as he produces fruit that makes great wine.
I’m not sure how you draw that conclusion? But if that’s what I said, it’s not what I meant.

I don’t know that I feel that a single rain event would be a part of terroir or mask terrroir or not. As a single occurrence it’s an impact in a vintage, possibly perceptible and possibly not. Perception of terroir is derived over many years of wines being made from a site. And not by a wine tasting identical from year to year, as different climatic events would have an impact. It could be argued that a rain event at harvest, could mask (not blanket) terroir by diluting flavors. But irrigation at harvest generally only happens to slow down sugar accumulation in order for flavors to catch up and to prevent dehydration. So those are very, very different scenarios. Hard for me to see a grower copying a harvest rain at one vineyard by irrigating the second.

During the growing seasons, the Willamette Valley sees occasional rain, or sometimes not. In my experience, these events make small inpacts in the wines but don’t really trump the terroir.

Irrigation by quite a few growers is limited to a single “drink” for the vines, and while I don’t source fruit from them, I also don’t see them as terribly different. But meanwhile, there are a large and identifiable group of Oregon growers and wineries producing top tier wines that do not irrigate. Prior to the formation of the group, those wineries made up about 90% of my personal cellar. When I hear a grower say that they had to water, I don’t tell them they’re wrong(that’s not my place and I wouldn’t know), I encourage them to chat up a Deep Roots Member they like and touch base with them(and taste the wines).
Most growers hate to see a plant suffer, and want to “solve” the issue. But usually the plants will handle it and are tougher the next year(same as any human athlete).

And also just to be clear, I agree with you 100% about what a grower does(within reason). As long as the fruit makes great wine, more power to them.

But I am a terroir junkie, and the hit rate of the wines made by the dry farmed members of the Deep Roots Coalition sealed the irrigation deal for me.
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#130 Post by Alan Rath »

Just taking your statement to its logical conclusion: if rain is unnecessary, is rain producing a less than optimal result, and actually masking the terroir?

My point is really just Carole Meredith’s now famous line: "Can there be any other business where there’s so much bullshit?"
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#131 Post by D@vid Bu3ker »

Alan Rath wrote: April 4th, 2021, 6:36 pm Just taking your statement to its logical conclusion: if rain is unnecessary, is rain producing a less than optimal result, and actually masking the terroir?

My point is really just Carole Meredith’s now famous line: "Can there be any other business where there’s so much bullshit?"
Except she was talking about sommeliers, and you are making arguments that take statements to extremes. What exactly are you trying to prove?
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#132 Post by Bruce G. »

Adam Lee wrote: April 4th, 2021, 11:09 am Feel free to disagree and tell me how brett is reflective of terroir.

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One could make the case that Brett can be a terroir-related effect.
But I seem to recall that you and I had this conversation a couple of decades back.

So, instead I’ll say....
Hi, Adam. Hope you and yours are doing well.
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#133 Post by Alan Rath »

D@vid Bu3ker wrote: April 4th, 2021, 6:46 pm
Alan Rath wrote: April 4th, 2021, 6:36 pm Just taking your statement to its logical conclusion: if rain is unnecessary, is rain producing a less than optimal result, and actually masking the terroir?

My point is really just Carole Meredith’s now famous line: "Can there be any other business where there’s so much bullshit?"
Except she was talking about sommeliers, and you are making arguments that take statements to extremes. What exactly are you trying to prove?
I can’t put words into her mouth, but I suspect the statement has wider reach than just sommeliers. In fact, I’m quite certain.
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#134 Post by D@vid Bu3ker »

Well then you just put words into her mouth.
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#135 Post by Marcus Goodfellow »

Alan Rath wrote: April 4th, 2021, 6:36 pm Just taking your statement to its logical conclusion: if rain is unnecessary, is rain producing a less than optimal result, and actually masking the terroir?

My point is really just Carole Meredith’s now famous line: "Can there be any other business where there’s so much bullshit?"
That’s not it’s logical conclusion. Your assumption is that any rain makes a less optimal impact, and that’s a poor assumption. Among a few others.

You should stop trying to put your words in my mouth and then telling me that I’m full of shit.

If it’s actually your “logical” conclusion, then who is really full of shit?
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#136 Post by Marcus Goodfellow »

Alan Rath wrote: April 4th, 2021, 6:58 pm
D@vid Bu3ker wrote: April 4th, 2021, 6:46 pm
Alan Rath wrote: April 4th, 2021, 6:36 pm Just taking your statement to its logical conclusion: if rain is unnecessary, is rain producing a less than optimal result, and actually masking the terroir?

My point is really just Carole Meredith’s now famous line: "Can there be any other business where there’s so much bullshit?"
Except she was talking about sommeliers, and you are making arguments that take statements to extremes. What exactly are you trying to prove?
I can’t put words into her mouth, but I suspect the statement has wider reach than just sommeliers. In fact, I’m quite certain.
You do seem to be quite certain of your opinions.
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#137 Post by D@vid Bu3ker »

Marcus Goodfellow wrote: April 4th, 2021, 6:59 pm
Alan Rath wrote: April 4th, 2021, 6:36 pm Just taking your statement to its logical conclusion: if rain is unnecessary, is rain producing a less than optimal result, and actually masking the terroir?

My point is really just Carole Meredith’s now famous line: "Can there be any other business where there’s so much bullshit?"
That’s not it’s logical conclusion. Your assumption is that any rain makes a less optimal impact, and that’s a poor assumption.
If there was zero rain we would be on Arrakis.
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#138 Post by Alan Rath »

D@vid Bu3ker wrote: April 4th, 2021, 6:59 pm Well then you just put words into her mouth.
No, I am amplifying her words through my own opinion.

In an industry that promotes burying dung-filled cow horns, racking wine by the phase of the moon, and myriad other “conventional wisdoms” and “old wives tales”, I’m not shy about claiming the statement has wide application.
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#139 Post by Bruce G. »

Alan Rath wrote: April 4th, 2021, 4:44 pm So, if a grower waters just to mimic what some other site gets in rain, how are the two sites different? Isn’t that really what most quality vineyards are doing?
I guess that depends upon how faithful the mimicry was.
Drip irrigation wouldn’t be a very good imitation of rainfall as rain doesn’t fall in discrete groupings at the base of each vine.
A sprinkler irrigation where water is broadcast over the entire vyd surface area would be better, though I have a hard time imaging why anyone would choose to do things that way.
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#140 Post by Alan Rath »

Marcus Goodfellow wrote: April 4th, 2021, 6:59 pm
Alan Rath wrote: April 4th, 2021, 6:36 pm Just taking your statement to its logical conclusion: if rain is unnecessary, is rain producing a less than optimal result, and actually masking the terroir?

My point is really just Carole Meredith’s now famous line: "Can there be any other business where there’s so much bullshit?"
That’s not it’s logical conclusion. Your assumption is that any rain makes a less optimal impact, and that’s a poor assumption. Among a few others.

You should stop trying to put your words in my mouth and then telling me that I’m full of shit.

If it’s actually your “logical” conclusion, then who is really full of shit?
Let’s maybe not take this quite so seriously, I certainly don’t. I recognize that wine is your livelihood, but I’m not attacking you.

You wrote: “during the growing season in most climates, it’s not.” I.e. not necessary in most climates and growing regions.

Did I misinterpret the apparent meaning that you think in most cases, rain isn’t necessary? My logical extension was that you intended that to mean it’s at best unnecessary, and possibly detrimental. Maybe instead of attacking me, you could just explain what you intended your statement to mean.
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#141 Post by Marcus Goodfellow »

Alan, if I misinterpeted your comment about extending Carole’s statement beyond somms, then I am happy to walk back my comment. But came across as you telling me I am full of BS.

Honestly, I was trying to infer that rain is just rain. It’s part of the cycle, but without taking my statement to extremes, it’s impact is often over emphasized.

At harvest it can have an effect, but that’s rarely when someone would be irrigating(except in the hottest of climates, as I noted above). As to masking terroir, a lot of rain at harvest seems to perhaps dilute the hue of the wines ratherthan alter their nature. Not sure if that makes sense, but my 07s and 13s were lighter wines than my 06s and 08s, but still quite true to the vineyards.

But in the Willamette Valley(and all of France) if it doesn’t rain that also is not crucial. If it does rain, that also happens and while it may mean some extra work against mildew, it’s not crucial to the wines or altering terroir.

So, without criticizing growers, I don’t think there’s a need to mimic a rainfall. That’s only my opinion, and I utilize my wines and other Deep Roots members wines to show it’s possible.

But whomever bears the workload and cost of establishing and farming a vineyard is welcome to their own ideas.
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#142 Post by Jim Anderson »

OMFG. 2x in this.
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#143 Post by Alan Rath »

Marcus Goodfellow wrote: April 4th, 2021, 7:33 pm Alan, if I misinterpeted your comment about extending Carole’s statement beyond somms, then I am happy to walk back my comment. But came across as you telling me I am full of BS.

Honestly, I was trying to infer that rain is just rain. It’s part of the cycle, but without taking my statement to extremes, it’s impact is often over emphasized.

At harvest it can have an effect, but that’s rarely when someone would be irrigating(except in the hottest of climates, as I noted above). As to masking terroir, a lot of rain at harvest seems to perhaps dilute the hue of the wines ratherthan alter their nature. Not sure if that makes sense, but my 07s and 13s were lighter wines than my 06s and 08s, but still quite true to the vineyards.

But in the Willamette Valley(and all of France) if it doesn’t rain that also is not crucial. If it does rain, that also happens and while it may mean some extra work against mildew, it’s not crucial to the wines or altering terroir.

So, without criticizing growers, I don’t think there’s a need to mimic a rainfall. That’s only my opinion, and I utilize my wines and other Deep Roots members wines to show it’s possible.

But whomever bears the workload and cost of establishing and farming a vineyard is welcome to their own ideas.
I didn’t intend the quote to be directed at you, more at the quote in the OP, and then at much of the entire ensuing discussion ;)

But seriously, there’s a whole lot of stuff people have opinions about (growers, winemakers, sellers, writers, critics, consumers) that has questionable foundation in provable fact or science. I mean, are we supposed to just accept that it’s better to be a grower in a region where your entire vintage might be rained out (2002), than in a region where you might need to mimic nature in a controlled way and give your vines a few sips of water in a particularly hot and dry summer?

I’m known around here to be more of a europhile, bit it’s not because they get rain and we don’t. Plus, I simply don’t accept the premise of the OP.
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#144 Post by Cris Whetstone »

If the farm house has a septic system, is that terroir?
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#145 Post by Eric Lundblad »

One interesting, amazing even, thing about this thread is that, it wasn't too long ago that anything done in the winery was considered inferior/wrong compared to doing something in the vineyard to achieve the same goal...and now it appears we've flip flopped where making adjustments in the winery are fine, as long as the winemaker is using good judgement, but anything the grower does is considered inferior/wrong compared to nature.
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#146 Post by Cris Whetstone »

Eric Lundblad wrote: April 4th, 2021, 8:37 pm One interesting, amazing even, thing about this thread is that, it wasn't too long ago that anything done in the winery was considered inferior/wrong compared to doing something in the vineyard to achieve the same goal...and now it appears we've flip flopped where making adjustments in the winery are fine, as long as the winemaker is using good judgement, but anything the grower does is considered inferior/wrong compared to nature.
"Nature". Not picking a bone with you but the presumption that vineyards are some sort of natural phenomena is probably my biggest gripe with these discussions. Vineyards are about as natural as cattle farms.
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#147 Post by Marcus Goodfellow »

Alan Rath wrote: April 4th, 2021, 8:21 pm
Marcus Goodfellow wrote: April 4th, 2021, 7:33 pm Alan, if I misinterpeted your comment about extending Carole’s statement beyond somms, then I am happy to walk back my comment. But came across as you telling me I am full of BS.

Honestly, I was trying to infer that rain is just rain. It’s part of the cycle, but without taking my statement to extremes, it’s impact is often over emphasized.

At harvest it can have an effect, but that’s rarely when someone would be irrigating(except in the hottest of climates, as I noted above). As to masking terroir, a lot of rain at harvest seems to perhaps dilute the hue of the wines ratherthan alter their nature. Not sure if that makes sense, but my 07s and 13s were lighter wines than my 06s and 08s, but still quite true to the vineyards.

But in the Willamette Valley(and all of France) if it doesn’t rain that also is not crucial. If it does rain, that also happens and while it may mean some extra work against mildew, it’s not crucial to the wines or altering terroir.

So, without criticizing growers, I don’t think there’s a need to mimic a rainfall. That’s only my opinion, and I utilize my wines and other Deep Roots members wines to show it’s possible.

But whomever bears the workload and cost of establishing and farming a vineyard is welcome to their own ideas.
I didn’t intend the quote to be directed at you, more at the quote in the OP, and then at much of the entire ensuing discussion ;)

But seriously, there’s a whole lot of stuff people have opinions about (growers, winemakers, sellers, writers, critics, consumers) that has questionable foundation in provable fact or science. I mean, are we supposed to just accept that it’s better to be a grower in a region where your entire vintage might be rained out (2002), than in a region where you might need to mimic nature in a controlled way and give your vines a few sips of water in a particularly hot and dry summer?

I’m known around here to be more of a europhile, bit it’s not because they get rain and we don’t. Plus, I simply don’t accept the premise of the OP.
For sure, not much in wine is actually provable fact. I definitely stand by vino veritas(which is a way of restating what you said earlier).

And also, your assertion about a few sips of water to keep vines alive.

But money is provable, and irrigation can provide higher yields as well as keeping vines alive. If you go from 3 to 3.5 tons per acre and are selling at $4000/ton, it doesn’t take many acres to get beyond pocket change.

In any group there will be a non-binary range of choices. So I don’t mean to slander anyone at all.

I’m a bit of a europhile as well, and I prefer the wines from a country that makes great wines. And also happens to take away the AOC of anyone who irrigates.
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#148 Post by Alan Rath »

Marcus Goodfellow wrote: April 4th, 2021, 7:33 pm So, without criticizing growers, I don’t think there’s a need to mimic a rainfall. That’s only my opinion, and I utilize my wines and other Deep Roots members wines to show it’s possible.
Aside from me pulling your chain a bit, there’s an interesting discussion to be had here: you have a French grower saying that irrigation is bad, and the resulting wine is inferior to non-irrigated. I initially interpreted that to mean vineyards which get natural irrigation (random rain) are superior. But your argument seems to be (if I’m interpreting correctly) that dry farming may be the best of all, although a little rain here and there won’t hurt anything.

One thing I’m curious about: if deep roots are good, but irrigation causes vines to be “lazy” and feed from more shallow roots, how does rain promote deep roots?

Frankly, I’m not entirely convinced that deep roots are all that important; and I’m not sure how you prove something like that. But now we’re into the “conventional wisdom” part of our program...
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#149 Post by ChrisJames »

Cris Whetstone wrote: April 4th, 2021, 8:29 pm If the farm house has a septic system, is that terroir?
The true source of brett odors? [wink.gif] I spend about two hours a day in a barn and no long notice any smell. But I sure can smell brett. I find the descriptor "barnyard" pretty inaccurate. What people really should say it that a wine influenced by brett smells like a failed septic system. [bleh.gif]

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

#150 Post by Marcus Goodfellow »

Eric Lundblad wrote: April 4th, 2021, 8:37 pm One interesting, amazing even, thing about this thread is that, it wasn't too long ago that anything done in the winery was considered inferior/wrong compared to doing something in the vineyard to achieve the same goal...and now it appears we've flip flopped where making adjustments in the winery are fine, as long as the winemaker is using good judgement, but anything the grower does is considered inferior/wrong compared to nature.
Nothing of the sort has happened here unless you only live in a binary world.

Winery choices are as they ever were.

The vineyard, as Chris pointed out, has never been without the same type of choices.

All that has happened is an attempt to illustrate the concept that:

Winery amelioration is like a brewer ameliorating their wort.

Vineyard amelioration is like changing the wheat the wort is brewed with.

Both are loaded with ameliorations. And you just have to find people attempting to navigate the process in a manner you agree with.

But most people are more familiar with the simple cellar ameliorations and do view them negatively(interference) vs vineyard ameliorations are viewed positively (farming).

But “great wine is made in the vineyard” is a truism...so you know where the big changes take place.
Last edited by Marcus Goodfellow on April 4th, 2021, 9:11 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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