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

Tasting notes, varietals, grapes - anything related to wine
Message
Author
Marcus Goodfellow
BerserkerBusiness
BerserkerBusiness
Posts: 2642
Joined: January 5th, 2011, 9:28 pm
Location: McMinnville, Oregon
Has thanked: 129 times
Been thanked: 292 times

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

#151 Post by Marcus Goodfellow »

Alan Rath wrote: April 4th, 2021, 8:46 pm
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...
So your first paragraph interpets my opinion correctly.

But the follow up is that rain does not promote deep roots, drought does. The vintages without rain that sends plants into water deficit will help force the plant to seek the water table down below topsoil. Which is why the person preferring deep roots will wade through the dry vintages and rhe vines suffering a bit. (My comments are not applicable to areas as arid as say Red Mountain).

And for whether deeper roots make a difference: the Willamette Valley median for depleting top soil moisture during our dry(ish) summers is 35”. In the Dundee Hills the soils are 48-72” deep and clay based basalt. They hold moisture very, very well and I would hypothesize that the vines there very, very rarely run out of water. In the Ribbon Ridge AVA, the sedimentary soils don’t hold moisture well at all and are generally 12-24” deep. These are vines in water deficit every summer until the roots hit the water table, and you can tell when they do.

We make wines from both AVAs, as well as the Eola-Amity Hills where soils vary considerably but the more common Nekia series is about 36” deep(mixed needs for water based upon the specific vintage weather).

There’s definitely a difference between the wines(terroir) that I ascribe to the differences in water stress. But which is better is definitely personal taste.
Goodfellow Family Cellars
Winemaker & Owner

User avatar
Otto Forsberg
Posts: 2083
Joined: December 28th, 2017, 4:26 am
Location: Finland
Has thanked: 97 times
Been thanked: 171 times

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

#152 Post by Otto Forsberg »

Alan Rath wrote: April 4th, 2021, 8:46 pm 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?
Where did you get this? Rain does not promote deep roots and I didn't see anybody claiming such a thing.
IG: force.berry / CT: forceberry

Adam Lee
Posts: 1964
Joined: March 2nd, 2009, 5:16 am

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

#153 Post by Adam Lee »

Marcus Goodfellow wrote: April 4th, 2021, 9:01 pm
Alan Rath wrote: April 4th, 2021, 8:46 pm
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...
So your first paragraph interpets my opinion correctly.

But the follow up is that rain does not promote deep roots, drought does. The vintages without rain that sends plants into water deficit will help force the plant to seek the water table down below topsoil. Which is why the person preferring deep roots will wade through the dry vintages and rhe vines suffering a bit. (My comments are not applicable to areas as arid as say Red Mountain).

And for whether deeper roots make a difference: the Willamette Valley median for depleting top soil moisture during our dry(ish) summers is 35”. In the Dundee Hills the soils are 48-72” deep and clay based basalt. They hold moisture very, very well and I would hypothesize that the vines there very, very rarely run out of water. In the Ribbon Ridge AVA, the sedimentary soils don’t hold moisture well at all and are generally 12-24” deep. These are vines in water deficit every summer until the roots hit the water table, and you can tell when they do.

We make wines from both AVAs, as well as the Eola-Amity Hills where soils vary considerably but the more common Nekia series is about 36” deep(mixed needs for water based upon the specific vintage weather).

There’s definitely a difference between the wines(terroir) that I ascribe to the differences in water stress. But which is better is definitely personal taste.

Marcus,

Thanks for your comments on this. I appreciate them. Having made wine from these areas myself, why do you necessarily ascribe these differences to water stress rather than to other differences - such as the effects of the Van Duzer Corridor in Eola-Amity? Have you ever done pressure bombs in say the Dundee Hills to see vine moisture content compared to Ribbon Ridge? It's somewhat time consuming but not all that difficult to do.

Thanks again,

Adam Lee
ITB

User avatar
Alan Rath
Monopole Crü
Monopole Crü
Posts: 22786
Joined: April 24th, 2009, 12:45 am
Location: Bay Area, CA. Sometimes out to lunch.
Has thanked: 35 times
Been thanked: 69 times

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

#154 Post by Alan Rath »

Otto Forsberg wrote: April 5th, 2021, 2:42 am
Alan Rath wrote: April 4th, 2021, 8:46 pm 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?
Where did you get this? Rain does not promote deep roots and I didn't see anybody claiming such a thing.
Read it again.

My point is that Brunier is claiming rain good, irrigation bad. If deep roots are good, and help express terroir better (a claim I’m not making, but is conventional wisdom), how is rain any better than irrigation?
I'm just one lost soul, swimming in a fish bowl, year after year

Marcus Goodfellow
BerserkerBusiness
BerserkerBusiness
Posts: 2642
Joined: January 5th, 2011, 9:28 pm
Location: McMinnville, Oregon
Has thanked: 129 times
Been thanked: 292 times

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

#155 Post by Marcus Goodfellow »

Adam Lee wrote: April 5th, 2021, 4:00 am
Marcus Goodfellow wrote: April 4th, 2021, 9:01 pm
Alan Rath wrote: April 4th, 2021, 8:46 pm
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...
So your first paragraph interpets my opinion correctly.

But the follow up is that rain does not promote deep roots, drought does. The vintages without rain that sends plants into water deficit will help force the plant to seek the water table down below topsoil. Which is why the person preferring deep roots will wade through the dry vintages and rhe vines suffering a bit. (My comments are not applicable to areas as arid as say Red Mountain).

And for whether deeper roots make a difference: the Willamette Valley median for depleting top soil moisture during our dry(ish) summers is 35”. In the Dundee Hills the soils are 48-72” deep and clay based basalt. They hold moisture very, very well and I would hypothesize that the vines there very, very rarely run out of water. In the Ribbon Ridge AVA, the sedimentary soils don’t hold moisture well at all and are generally 12-24” deep. These are vines in water deficit every summer until the roots hit the water table, and you can tell when they do.

We make wines from both AVAs, as well as the Eola-Amity Hills where soils vary considerably but the more common Nekia series is about 36” deep(mixed needs for water based upon the specific vintage weather).

There’s definitely a difference between the wines(terroir) that I ascribe to the differences in water stress. But which is better is definitely personal taste.

Marcus,

Thanks for your comments on this. I appreciate them. Having made wine from these areas myself, why do you necessarily ascribe these differences to water stress rather than to other differences - such as the effects of the Van Duzer Corridor in Eola-Amity? Have you ever done pressure bombs in say the Dundee Hills to see vine moisture content compared to Ribbon Ridge? It's somewhat time consuming but not all that difficult to do.

Thanks again,

Adam Lee
ITB
Hi Adam,

I shouldn’t have implied that I ascribe all of the differences in the wines to whether the vines are in water deficit or not. There are a myriad of factors making differences in the wines, including the prevailing breezes.

But the differences in soil waterholding capacity are a big player.

I have not done pressure bombs. But I do walk in the vineyards very, very regularly through the years.

You can feel the differences, including the Van Duzer effect which is much higher at Temperance Hill. At Whistling Ridge the wind comes down from the north, not up from the Van Duzer corridor. Both Fir Crest, tucked into the rain shadow of the coast range and Durant in the Dundee Hills see more modest breezes. And wind is a big factor in thickening skins, among other things.

But walking through the vineyards over the years, I realized that there is a distinct difference in humidity too(apologies to anyone in the south, as we don’t have anything at all resembling “humidity” in Oregon during the summer). Walking the rows first at Oracle and Winter’s Hill, and Durant for the last decade, the vineyards are always more pleasant than walking or working at Whistling Ridge or Fir Crest(sedimentary soils). It’s a very perceptable difference, especially if you’re doing something like shoot positioning, leaf pulling, etc.
A lot of the work is done early before it’s too hot, and before breezes kick in. But as the sun gets higher, each vineyard is a very differenct experience, and the cooling effect of having some moisture in the air is quite noticeable. Again-we’re not the south so when I say cooling in reference to higher humidity, I’m not crazy. The difference in the air is most noticeable, between Fir Crest, which gets very hot and drying, and Durant where it’s always pretty pleasant(at the same temps as Fir Crest).


there has been pretty reasonable research on the water holding capacity of the main soil types of the Willamette Valley, and the volcanic soils definitely have a higher potential for holding water. Temperance Hill is the most affected by the Van Duzer corridor, and the breeziest site. But it’s still less dry than Fir Crest or Whistling Ridge. It has distinct wind affected skin tannins, but always more moderate alcohols. While it’s windier and the breeze helps lower the perception of heat, it’s not less humid than the sedimentary sites.
Goodfellow Family Cellars
Winemaker & Owner

Mel Knox
Monopole Crü
Monopole Crü
Posts: 2367
Joined: July 30th, 2010, 8:46 am
Location: San francisco
Been thanked: 30 times

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

#156 Post by Mel Knox »

As I recall from my youth, it rains in Western Washington and Western Oregon from around October to May/June. Then it gets dry for a while and traditionally July and August were fire danger months. So, if one accepts Marcus' hypothesis about drought causing the roots to go deeper, he has planted in the right place.

Adam: the Van Duzer Corridor demonstrates the AnnaBananaDanna Rule: there's always somethin'!
ITB

User avatar
Otto Forsberg
Posts: 2083
Joined: December 28th, 2017, 4:26 am
Location: Finland
Has thanked: 97 times
Been thanked: 171 times

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

#157 Post by Otto Forsberg »

Alan Rath wrote: April 5th, 2021, 8:23 am Read it again.
I did.
My point is that Brunier is claiming rain good, irrigation bad. If deep roots are good, and help express terroir better (a claim I’m not making, but is conventional wisdom), how is rain any better than irrigation?
But how do you take from Brunier's claim that rain promotes deeper roots? There's no connection whatsoever, thus I was asking where did you get that? If nobody has made such claim, why do you keep on asking such question?

And on how is rain any better than irrigation: in hotter and drier regions it's very much possible that rain happens only during fall and winter, when it will just replenish the water table, not at all during the growth cycle. In such regions if you irrigate (during the growth cycle), you are going to get very different wines compared to those that are dry-farmed. I'm not taking sides here which kind of viticulture yields better results, or if they can even be compared against each other in quality. However, if the local terroir has always produced wines of certain style and wines made with fruit from irrigated vineyards do not conform to that style, I can understand why people say irrigation can obfuscate the imprint of terroir in the wine.
IG: force.berry / CT: forceberry

User avatar
Alan Rath
Monopole Crü
Monopole Crü
Posts: 22786
Joined: April 24th, 2009, 12:45 am
Location: Bay Area, CA. Sometimes out to lunch.
Has thanked: 35 times
Been thanked: 69 times

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

#158 Post by Alan Rath »

Otto Forsberg wrote: April 5th, 2021, 9:12 am
Alan Rath wrote: April 5th, 2021, 8:23 am Read it again.
I did.
My point is that Brunier is claiming rain good, irrigation bad. If deep roots are good, and help express terroir better (a claim I’m not making, but is conventional wisdom), how is rain any better than irrigation?
But how do you take from Brunier's claim that rain promotes deeper roots? There's no connection whatsoever, thus I was asking where did you get that? If nobody has made such claim, why do you keep on asking such question?

And on how is rain any better than irrigation: in hotter and drier regions it's very much possible that rain happens only during fall and winter, when it will just replenish the water table, not at all during the growth cycle. In such regions if you irrigate (during the growth cycle), you are going to get very different wines compared to those that are dry-farmed. I'm not taking sides here which kind of viticulture yields better results, or if they can even be compared against each other in quality. However, if the local terroir has always produced wines of certain style and wines made with fruit from irrigated vineyards do not conform to that style, I can understand why people say irrigation can obfuscate the imprint of terroir in the wine.
On rain/roots, I’m just making the logical extension that if deep roots are good, and rain does not promote deep roots, rain is bad.

Having lived in California all my life, I’m intimately familiar with our rain patterns.

I cannot agree that controlled irrigation obfuscates terroir, but random rain does not. If this were true, wouldn’t a Morey St Denis be completely different from a wet year than from a dry year? Of course there is an impact of rain, or irrigation, on the final result, but I reject the notion that one is better than the other (or both necessarily worse than completely dry farming). I guarantee that if a burgundy grower had the choice to control the timing and amount of rain through the season, or take what comes randomly, he’d choose control every time.
I'm just one lost soul, swimming in a fish bowl, year after year

User avatar
D@vid Bu3ker
Monopole Crü
Monopole Crü
Posts: 40444
Joined: February 14th, 2009, 8:06 am
Location: Connecticut
Has thanked: 199 times
Been thanked: 393 times

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

#159 Post by D@vid Bu3ker »

Alan Rath wrote: April 5th, 2021, 9:27 am
On rain/roots, I’m just making the logical extension that if deep roots are good, and rain does not promote deep roots, rain is bad.
How many dehydrated angels can dance on the head of a pin.
David Bueker - Rieslingfan

User avatar
Otto Forsberg
Posts: 2083
Joined: December 28th, 2017, 4:26 am
Location: Finland
Has thanked: 97 times
Been thanked: 171 times

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

#160 Post by Otto Forsberg »

Alan Rath wrote: April 5th, 2021, 9:27 am On rain/roots, I’m just making the logical extension that if deep roots are good, and rain does not promote deep roots, rain is bad.
You're not making a logical extension, but a logical fallacy.
IG: force.berry / CT: forceberry

User avatar
Alan Rath
Monopole Crü
Monopole Crü
Posts: 22786
Joined: April 24th, 2009, 12:45 am
Location: Bay Area, CA. Sometimes out to lunch.
Has thanked: 35 times
Been thanked: 69 times

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

#161 Post by Alan Rath »

D@vid Bu3ker wrote: April 5th, 2021, 9:32 am
Alan Rath wrote: April 5th, 2021, 9:27 am
On rain/roots, I’m just making the logical extension that if deep roots are good, and rain does not promote deep roots, rain is bad.
How many dehydrated angels can dance on the head of a pin.
Just to be clear, as I think Burgundy makes the best Pinot Noir overall, I obviously don’t think rain is bad. But I also think other regions are capable of making equally good wines, and I think rain/irrigation is a minor part of the difference. Extremes are bad for both, or course - too much in burgundy during the growing season, too little in California during the rainy season. Which we have this year, btw.
I'm just one lost soul, swimming in a fish bowl, year after year

User avatar
Alan Rath
Monopole Crü
Monopole Crü
Posts: 22786
Joined: April 24th, 2009, 12:45 am
Location: Bay Area, CA. Sometimes out to lunch.
Has thanked: 35 times
Been thanked: 69 times

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

#162 Post by Alan Rath »

Otto Forsberg wrote: April 5th, 2021, 9:37 am
Alan Rath wrote: April 5th, 2021, 9:27 am On rain/roots, I’m just making the logical extension that if deep roots are good, and rain does not promote deep roots, rain is bad.
You're not making a logical extension, but a logical fallacy.
Why does irrigation inhibit vines from putting down deep roots, but rain does not? If deep roots are desirable, then isn’t any kind of outside water bad?

Mind you, I’m not at all convinced that deep roots are what makes a big difference. I’ve seen plenty of articles describing how plants get most of their nutrition from the flora and fauna influenced shallower soils. Some growers don’t like to plow because they think it disturbs the biome in the upper layers of soil, or compacts the upper layers of soil. But if deep roots are providing most of the nourishment, why does it matter what you do at the surface? Some growers will rip the soil many feet down before planting, how is that maintaining “terroir”?

Thus the “bullshit” quote. Everything is a continuum, there are no magic red lines that separate all good from all bad. What matters is the end result, and that you can sense the uniqueness of a site relative to other sites. Those are the things that matter to me.
I'm just one lost soul, swimming in a fish bowl, year after year

Marcus Goodfellow
BerserkerBusiness
BerserkerBusiness
Posts: 2642
Joined: January 5th, 2011, 9:28 pm
Location: McMinnville, Oregon
Has thanked: 129 times
Been thanked: 292 times

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

#163 Post by Marcus Goodfellow »

Alan Rath wrote: April 5th, 2021, 9:52 am
Otto Forsberg wrote: April 5th, 2021, 9:37 am
Alan Rath wrote: April 5th, 2021, 9:27 am On rain/roots, I’m just making the logical extension that if deep roots are good, and rain does not promote deep roots, rain is bad.
You're not making a logical extension, but a logical fallacy.
Why does irrigation inhibit vines from putting down deep roots, but rain does not? If deep roots are desirable, then isn’t any kind of outside water bad?

Mind you, I’m not at all convinced that deep roots are what makes a big difference. I’ve seen plenty of articles describing how plants get most of their nutrition from the flora and fauna influenced shallower soils. Some growers don’t like to plow because they think it disturbs the biome in the upper layers of soil, or compacts the upper layers of soil. But if deep roots are providing most of the nourishment, why does it matter what you do at the surface? Some growers will rip the soil many feet down before planting, how is that maintaining “terroir”?

Thus the “bullshit” quote. Everything is a continuum, there are no magic red lines that separate all good from all bad. What matters is the end result, and that you can sense the uniqueness of a site relative to other sites. Those are the things that matter to me.
You keep trying to narrow the process to one absolute or another.

Plants do get nourishment from shallower areas. We also do not till, for a number of reasons-not just one.

The process of growing grapes is complex and changes are more like altering a spiderweb than a teeter-totter.

And regarding why neither rain nor irrigation inhibit deep roots from forming, read my post above.

You also keep arguing irrigation as if it were a singular choice, just a bit here and there. But that’s a long ways from what irrigation encompasses.

...and yes, I am sure many of the growers in Burgundy would like the control of irrigation. Regardless of the fact that not irrigating has led them to making the best Pinot Noirs in the world...in your and my opinions.

Old saying, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Goodfellow Family Cellars
Winemaker & Owner

User avatar
Alan Rath
Monopole Crü
Monopole Crü
Posts: 22786
Joined: April 24th, 2009, 12:45 am
Location: Bay Area, CA. Sometimes out to lunch.
Has thanked: 35 times
Been thanked: 69 times

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

#164 Post by Alan Rath »

Marcus Goodfellow wrote: April 5th, 2021, 10:11 am You keep trying to narrow the process to one absolute or another.
“Everything is a continuum, there are no magic red lines that separate all good from all bad.”

Apparently that line wasn’t prominent enough in my post.

Marcus, you’re taking this way to personally. I’m mostly arguing against silly absolutes like Brunier’s quote, which I find both self serving and untrue.
I'm just one lost soul, swimming in a fish bowl, year after year

Marcus Goodfellow
BerserkerBusiness
BerserkerBusiness
Posts: 2642
Joined: January 5th, 2011, 9:28 pm
Location: McMinnville, Oregon
Has thanked: 129 times
Been thanked: 292 times

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

#165 Post by Marcus Goodfellow »

Alan Rath wrote: April 5th, 2021, 10:25 am
Marcus Goodfellow wrote: April 5th, 2021, 10:11 am You keep trying to narrow the process to one absolute or another.
“Everything is a continuum, there are no magic red lines that separate all good from all bad.”

Apparently that line wasn’t prominent enough in my post.

Marcus, you’re taking this way to personally. I’m mostly arguing against silly absolutes like Brunier’s quote, which I find both self serving and untrue.
I’m not taking it personally. But it seems like when someone posts a statement that is part of a continuum, you take that statement to it’s “logical conclusion” and then argue against that. But I don’t see how your logical conclusion is specified in the previous posts.

It seems like that has happened 3-4 times here.
Goodfellow Family Cellars
Winemaker & Owner

Marcus Goodfellow
BerserkerBusiness
BerserkerBusiness
Posts: 2642
Joined: January 5th, 2011, 9:28 pm
Location: McMinnville, Oregon
Has thanked: 129 times
Been thanked: 292 times

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

#166 Post by Marcus Goodfellow »

Also, Brunier’s quote is just his opinion. I doubt it’s really self serving as if he could irrigate he would have more control, and could indulge in higher yields. It may serve the current restrictions he has, but it’s probably more in his financial interests to state the opposite and work to get irrigation made available to him.
Goodfellow Family Cellars
Winemaker & Owner

User avatar
Rodrigo B
Monopole Crü
Monopole Crü
Posts: 1300
Joined: June 9th, 2020, 11:21 pm
Location: New York
Has thanked: 47 times
Been thanked: 185 times

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

#167 Post by Rodrigo B »

How deep roots go isn't a product of how much water it got in a single growing season, but rather how much water it receives over many years. If a dry-farmed vineyard has several years of above average rainfall, those roots too won't be as encouraged to dig deeper down. That's is in part some of the logic behind those that chose to dry farm. In a very simplistic way, it keeps vines on their toes. They are unsure of when and how much water they will receive and when, so they have to spread their roots as much as possible to maximize their chances of survival.

Irrigation adds several other factors to the equation that a winegrower has to consider. Even if one could in theory figure out exactly how exactly much water per square metre vines needed to develop the perfect amount of root growth (I'm sure there are several winegrowers that would love the ability to control each and every variable of the growing season), the fact of the matter is that these are crops that are grown outside, with weather patterns outside of the control of the winegrower, both in a single year and over time. One may control how much water they irrigate their vines with, but not how much water falls from the skies. So total water per square metre of vines is unpredictable and may result in at times a vineyard receiving more water than would be optimal for the longevity and health of the vines and their roots, both for the current growing season as well over time. For example, say a winegrower chooses to irrigate in a particularly dry year. If the next few subsequent years have heavy rains, than the overall effect will be to inhibit deep roots from forming. In essence, the vines lost an opportunity to struggle for a bit and be forced to produce deeper roots in search for water. This is of course an extreme oversimplification of things, and there are not only a whole host of other variables that go into whether to irrigate a vineyard or not, but also what promotes vines to create deeper roots.

Wine growing is never a black and white situation. It's not a matter of all water to vines equal bad root development. It's about how much, how often, when in the growing season it happens, how well draining the soil is, and a bunch of other variables.
B r @ g @

User avatar
Alan Rath
Monopole Crü
Monopole Crü
Posts: 22786
Joined: April 24th, 2009, 12:45 am
Location: Bay Area, CA. Sometimes out to lunch.
Has thanked: 35 times
Been thanked: 69 times

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

#168 Post by Alan Rath »

Marcus Goodfellow wrote: April 5th, 2021, 10:35 am
Alan Rath wrote: April 5th, 2021, 10:25 am
Marcus Goodfellow wrote: April 5th, 2021, 10:11 am You keep trying to narrow the process to one absolute or another.
“Everything is a continuum, there are no magic red lines that separate all good from all bad.”

Apparently that line wasn’t prominent enough in my post.

Marcus, you’re taking this way to personally. I’m mostly arguing against silly absolutes like Brunier’s quote, which I find both self serving and untrue.
I’m not taking it personally. But it seems like when someone posts a statement that is part of a continuum, you take that statement to it’s “logical conclusion” and then argue against that. But I don’t see how your logical conclusion is specified in the previous posts.

It seems like that has happened 3-4 times here.
Ok
I'm just one lost soul, swimming in a fish bowl, year after year

User avatar
Alan Rath
Monopole Crü
Monopole Crü
Posts: 22786
Joined: April 24th, 2009, 12:45 am
Location: Bay Area, CA. Sometimes out to lunch.
Has thanked: 35 times
Been thanked: 69 times

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

#169 Post by Alan Rath »

Marcus Goodfellow wrote: April 5th, 2021, 10:38 am Also, Brunier’s quote is just his opinion. I doubt it’s really self serving as if he could irrigate he would have more control, and could indulge in higher yields. It may serve the current restrictions he has, but it’s probably more in his financial interests to state the opposite and work to get irrigation made available to him.
It’s self serving because it allows him to claim superiority of his region, vineyard, and wine.

Why do you keep claiming that the point of irrigation is to allow growers to achieve higher yields? I have never observed the growers I know to use irrigation for that purpose. They use it, usually sparingly if at all, to achieve the plant health they want. Yields are determined by other decision factors, in my experience.
I'm just one lost soul, swimming in a fish bowl, year after year

Marcus Goodfellow
BerserkerBusiness
BerserkerBusiness
Posts: 2642
Joined: January 5th, 2011, 9:28 pm
Location: McMinnville, Oregon
Has thanked: 129 times
Been thanked: 292 times

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

#170 Post by Marcus Goodfellow »

Mel Knox wrote: April 3rd, 2021, 8:23 am https://mailchi.mp/a08d0040d256/upcomin ... e541fbaddf

Another look at this topic
Read the sales pitch in this link that Mel posted.


There are lots of farmers who only water when they feel it’s necessary. There are plenty who also do the math on tonnage and sugars with irrigation and water to those specs.

It’s a continuum of choices, and to accuse VT of being self serving and them pretend all growers only water as necessary is naive.

Oh yeah, and as I posted earlier. Another winery in the valley who irrigates routinely gets 20 more gallons per ton than I do.
Last edited by Marcus Goodfellow on April 6th, 2021, 6:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Goodfellow Family Cellars
Winemaker & Owner

Marcus Goodfellow
BerserkerBusiness
BerserkerBusiness
Posts: 2642
Joined: January 5th, 2011, 9:28 pm
Location: McMinnville, Oregon
Has thanked: 129 times
Been thanked: 292 times

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

#171 Post by Marcus Goodfellow »

This has been fun and entertaining, but I have a Spring email release to write so I need to get to work before Megan loses her cool with me(and she should).

But, in my opinion, the best Pinot Noir in the world is from Burgundy(for now). The best Syrah in the world is from the Northern Rhone. The best Cab Franc is from the Loire. The best Riesling is from Germany and Austria(and I don’t believe that it’s irrigated). The best Cabernet based wines, for my palate, are Bordeaux. And the best Chardonnays are from dry farmed vineyards in the Willamette Valley and a couple of small hills and a village or two in France ;)


Anyone who wants to irrigate should, but I want to make great wine...and all the best examples I know of are from places where they don’t irrigate. I know I am totally stupid for not choosing to be in control and be the decision maker. But I am lucky enough to make wine in a place where truly great wines can be made by the vineyard and a dumb winemaker.

Have a great week everyone, good thread.
Goodfellow Family Cellars
Winemaker & Owner

User avatar
Taylor Broussard
Posts: 1289
Joined: January 10th, 2013, 10:28 am
Location: California
Has thanked: 13 times
Been thanked: 5 times

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

#172 Post by Taylor Broussard »

Alan Rath wrote: April 5th, 2021, 11:03 am
Marcus Goodfellow wrote: April 5th, 2021, 10:38 am Also, Brunier’s quote is just his opinion. I doubt it’s really self serving as if he could irrigate he would have more control, and could indulge in higher yields. It may serve the current restrictions he has, but it’s probably more in his financial interests to state the opposite and work to get irrigation made available to him.
It’s self serving because it allows him to claim superiority of his region, vineyard, and wine.

Why do you keep claiming that the point of irrigation is to allow growers to achieve higher yields? I have never observed the growers I know to use irrigation for that purpose. They use it, usually sparingly if at all, to achieve the plant health they want. Yields are determined by other decision factors, in my experience.
Brunier is participating in, and acknowledging a wine growing tradition in France that is really quite old - hundreds or thousands of years old depending on how we want to qualify that tradition. To say that it's merely self serving is really a bit too cynical if we're making a good faith argument here and probably a bit too generous to say that those in CA/WA/OR who irrigate are not doing so for reasons of yield.

In fact, it's really easy to point to irrigation as a rational self-interest given that so many producers have loans to pay and need to put food on the table for their family too. Few can afford to take such risks, and it's perfectly understandable that some would want a level of control beyond what the weather and climate affords. To dry farm in warm climates is a bit of a leap of faith - especially in CA where there's virtually zero precipitation during much of the growing season. Over time those who do limit irrigation, or withhold it altogether do find that their vines are more resilient in different types of weather (notably heat waves) for obvious reasons (deeper, healthier root profile). So it's a specious argument to say that those who are irrigating are doing it for plant health - over time this actually makes vines less resilient and more susceptible to climactic events.

User avatar
Otto Forsberg
Posts: 2083
Joined: December 28th, 2017, 4:26 am
Location: Finland
Has thanked: 97 times
Been thanked: 171 times

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

#173 Post by Otto Forsberg »

Alan Rath wrote: April 5th, 2021, 9:52 am Why does irrigation inhibit vines from putting down deep roots, but rain does not? If deep roots are desirable, then isn’t any kind of outside water bad?
Who has said that rain does not? in very rainy areas vines don't dig their roots deep because they don't have to. In regions where it doesn't rain much during the growing season, the vines dig their roots towards the water table. If the vines are irrigated or if it rains enough, vines stop digging their roots deeper.

And I'm still not saying anything about the quality of irrigation. As so many producers making world-class wines from irrigated vineyards, it's definitely possible to make astounding wines with irrigation. In some parts of the world it's simply necessary to irrigate if one wants to make wines at all.

However, in regions where it rains very little during the growth cycle, irrigation does make a great impact on the vines - and, logically, on the wines produced from the fruits of these vines - compared to the vineyards that are farmed without any irrigation.
IG: force.berry / CT: forceberry

User avatar
Carole Meredith
BerserkerBusiness
BerserkerBusiness
Posts: 335
Joined: May 4th, 2009, 8:57 am
Location: Mount Veeder, Napa
Has thanked: 19 times
Been thanked: 13 times

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

#174 Post by Carole Meredith »

Alan Rath wrote: April 4th, 2021, 6:36 pmMy point is really just Carole Meredith’s now famous line: "Can there be any other business where there’s so much bullshit?"
Just for the record, my 'bullshit' line in the film referred to a very wide swath of the wine business, including people who make wine, sell wine, market wine, serve wine, write about wine and review wine. Some of these people actually believe their own bullshit and so probably don't consider it bullshit. Others are well aware that it's bullshit but sling it anyway because it gets them where they want to go.
Carole Meredith
Lagier Meredith Vineyard
Mount Veeder, Napa

Wes Barton
Posts: 4323
Joined: January 29th, 2009, 3:54 am
Been thanked: 43 times

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

#175 Post by Wes Barton »

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?
I think the answer is a complex physics problem. If a lot of the quality of a wine comes from the deep roots, and the soil down there has a high tension, easy surface water availability could greatly reduce quality, mimicking bad irrigation practices. If that was just always the case, the site would never be well regarded in the first place. But, say it's a "great" site that historically gets no significant amount of rain during the season - it very well could have terrible vintages in rainy years. By contrast, other sites do just fine with significant rain in the growing season, due to the soil properties (and acclimation of the vines to the site, I suppose).

Smart irrigation isn't frequent and broad. It's more saturating deep cylinders for the vines to follow down. Details (and necessity) depend on soil properties. This strategy can be used to guide roots towards a deep water table or just get them down (where the soil may or may not retain much of that water).

Of course nature is curious and plants are "smart". I live in an area with heavy clay. Planting tomatoes in a planting hole in partially improved soil means the roots will grow out until they hit this wall of much less pleasant clay-dominant stuff, then turn back to the easy. They'll stay in that gear and stunt. Giving them more of a transition works. Then you have the occasional volunteer coming up in the middle of a badly compacted never improved heavy clay. They do just fine. They knew the challenges of the soil from germination and went with it. These Oregon folks have a much less extreme version of that. The vines get their winter rain, read the soil and other environmental factors around them and "go with it". It works out there.....naturally. But, that doesn't mean you can get away with that everywhere.
ITB - Useless lackey

Can't stand bloody wax capsules.

Russell Faulkner
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 8353
Joined: April 26th, 2010, 10:30 pm
Location: Bordeaux
Been thanked: 19 times

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

#176 Post by Russell Faulkner »

I’m not ok with irrigation.

I’m ok with lighting fires at night to avoid frost damage.

Am I a hypocrite?
ITB - Feral - Art & Vin

User avatar
Markus S
Posts: 7291
Joined: May 20th, 2010, 7:27 am
Has thanked: 5 times
Been thanked: 48 times

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

#177 Post by Markus S »

Alan Rath wrote: April 5th, 2021, 9:27 am I guarantee that if a burgundy grower had the choice to control the timing and amount of rain through the season, or take what comes randomly, he’d choose control every time.
But then, he wouldn't be a "Burgundian".
$ _ € ® e . k @

User avatar
D@vid Bu3ker
Monopole Crü
Monopole Crü
Posts: 40444
Joined: February 14th, 2009, 8:06 am
Location: Connecticut
Has thanked: 199 times
Been thanked: 393 times

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

#178 Post by D@vid Bu3ker »

Markus S wrote: April 6th, 2021, 4:24 am
Alan Rath wrote: April 5th, 2021, 9:27 am I guarantee that if a burgundy grower had the choice to control the timing and amount of rain through the season, or take what comes randomly, he’d choose control every time.
But then, he wouldn't be a "Burgundian".
True. He would be Stewie from Family Guy, with his weather control machine.
David Bueker - Rieslingfan

Eric Lundblad
BerserkerBusiness
BerserkerBusiness
Posts: 1894
Joined: January 28th, 2009, 2:36 pm
Has thanked: 39 times
Been thanked: 6 times

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

#179 Post by Eric Lundblad »

Markus S wrote: April 6th, 2021, 4:24 am
Alan Rath wrote: April 5th, 2021, 9:27 am I guarantee that if a burgundy grower had the choice to control the timing and amount of rain through the season, or take what comes randomly, he’d choose control every time.
But then, he wouldn't be a "Burgundian".
Not Necessarily. The acid adds to burgundy story that Mel relayed (acid adds to burgundy wine not allowed, but argued that must isn't wine hence acid adds to must is allowed) might mean the future rain control machine would be allowed. Esp since that machine's hail control upgrade would frequently be used in Burgundy! :)
Ladd Cellars
Winemaker & Owner

Mel Knox
Monopole Crü
Monopole Crü
Posts: 2367
Joined: July 30th, 2010, 8:46 am
Location: San francisco
Been thanked: 30 times

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

#180 Post by Mel Knox »

About lighting fires at night to prevent frost damage:

Why can't somebody say frost prevention precludes terroir?? And would certain kinds of frost protection be ok and others bad?? Windmills ok, helicopters bad?? Fires with cuttings from the vineyard ok; old tires bad?? How about misting??

Usually people say first protection goes against nature, or it ruins the market as frost keeps the wine available on the market down to a manageable level.

Carole. Meredith: did the fellow who takes care of your vineyard get in the movie??He takes excellent pictures and seems very handy. What movie was this??
When I taught wine appreciation classes and worked in a wine store, we would tell students there was dry and varying degrees of sweetness.But when we sold wine, we said off dry all the time.
We told people to let wines breathe, even tho we didn't believe it ourselves.

I always make fun of the concept of terroir but if it helps me make a sale....yes, our VSG barrel really shows the regionality of the oak.

What about blocking malolactic fermentation?? Could the Leflaives say that if you have to block ML in your chardonnay, you don't have terroir??
ITB

User avatar
Taylor Broussard
Posts: 1289
Joined: January 10th, 2013, 10:28 am
Location: California
Has thanked: 13 times
Been thanked: 5 times

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

#181 Post by Taylor Broussard »

Mel Knox wrote: April 6th, 2021, 8:51 am About lighting fires at night to prevent frost damage:

Why can't somebody say frost prevention precludes terroir?? And would certain kinds of frost protection be ok and others bad?? Windmills ok, helicopters bad?? Fires with cuttings from the vineyard ok; old tires bad?? How about misting??

Usually people say first protection goes against nature, or it ruins the market as frost keeps the wine available on the market down to a manageable level.

Carole. Meredith: did the fellow who takes care of your vineyard get in the movie??He takes excellent pictures and seems very handy. What movie was this??
When I taught wine appreciation classes and worked in a wine store, we would tell students there was dry and varying degrees of sweetness.But when we sold wine, we said off dry all the time.
We told people to let wines breathe, even tho we didn't believe it ourselves.

I always make fun of the concept of terroir but if it helps me make a sale....yes, our VSG barrel really shows the regionality of the oak.

What about blocking malolactic fermentation?? Could the Leflaives say that if you have to block ML in your chardonnay, you don't have terroir??
All reasonable retorts. And that's the thing, these producers are not immune from applying the same philosophy/dogma to them as well and that's somewhat the challenge of arguing on the basis of some ideal, most will fall short of it. But put simply, if you were at the table tasting two "100-Point", perfect or nearly perfect wines and one was produced with no/minimal interventions (no irrigation, no watering back, no sugar/acid adds, all native ferments, etc) and the other was produced with a number of interventions (irrigated vineyards, inoculated yeast, watering back, acid corrections, etc) - which wine would you rather take home and put in your cellar if you had to choose?

User avatar
D@vid Bu3ker
Monopole Crü
Monopole Crü
Posts: 40444
Joined: February 14th, 2009, 8:06 am
Location: Connecticut
Has thanked: 199 times
Been thanked: 393 times

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

#182 Post by D@vid Bu3ker »

Taylor Broussard wrote: April 6th, 2021, 9:14 am But put simply, if you were at the table tasting two "100-Point", perfect or nearly perfect wines and one was produced with no/minimal interventions (no irrigation, no watering back, no sugar/acid adds, all native ferments, etc) and the other was produced with a number of interventions (irrigated vineyards, inoculated yeast, watering back, acid corrections, etc) - which wine would you rather take home and put in your cellar if you had to choose?
All other things being equal, I would want the one made by a family-owned winery, regardless of whether they made "adjustments." If they were both family-owned, then likely the wine with fewer adjustments, just because it would be a better story.
David Bueker - Rieslingfan

User avatar
Taylor Broussard
Posts: 1289
Joined: January 10th, 2013, 10:28 am
Location: California
Has thanked: 13 times
Been thanked: 5 times

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

#183 Post by Taylor Broussard »

D@vid Bu3ker wrote: April 6th, 2021, 9:20 am
Taylor Broussard wrote: April 6th, 2021, 9:14 am But put simply, if you were at the table tasting two "100-Point", perfect or nearly perfect wines and one was produced with no/minimal interventions (no irrigation, no watering back, no sugar/acid adds, all native ferments, etc) and the other was produced with a number of interventions (irrigated vineyards, inoculated yeast, watering back, acid corrections, etc) - which wine would you rather take home and put in your cellar if you had to choose?
All other things being equal, I would want the one made by a family-owned winery, regardless of whether they made "adjustments." If they were both family-owned, then likely the wine with fewer adjustments, just because it would be a better story.
Let's presume they're both family-owned, made by honorable individuals, in the same region. Same grape varieties too. Same level of oak. The only difference is that one made corrections and in the cellar (and irrigated or what have you in the vineyard).

Mel Knox
Monopole Crü
Monopole Crü
Posts: 2367
Joined: July 30th, 2010, 8:46 am
Location: San francisco
Been thanked: 30 times

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

#184 Post by Mel Knox »

Taylor,

What usually happens is that critics judge wines by how closely a winemaker follows his or her own philosophy about winemaking. So the guy who waters back etc might never get that 100 pts from certain writers...unless judging is done blind.

How a wine is made is usually part of the sales spiel. Kermit Lynch made de Montille famous for not chaptalizing. In the 70s unfined and unfiltered was big. Tegan Passalacqua talks about own rooted vines. Family owned is a big thing today.
ITB

User avatar
D@vid Bu3ker
Monopole Crü
Monopole Crü
Posts: 40444
Joined: February 14th, 2009, 8:06 am
Location: Connecticut
Has thanked: 199 times
Been thanked: 393 times

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

#185 Post by D@vid Bu3ker »

Taylor Broussard wrote: April 6th, 2021, 9:25 am
D@vid Bu3ker wrote: April 6th, 2021, 9:20 am
Taylor Broussard wrote: April 6th, 2021, 9:14 am But put simply, if you were at the table tasting two "100-Point", perfect or nearly perfect wines and one was produced with no/minimal interventions (no irrigation, no watering back, no sugar/acid adds, all native ferments, etc) and the other was produced with a number of interventions (irrigated vineyards, inoculated yeast, watering back, acid corrections, etc) - which wine would you rather take home and put in your cellar if you had to choose?
All other things being equal, I would want the one made by a family-owned winery, regardless of whether they made "adjustments." If they were both family-owned, then likely the wine with fewer adjustments, just because it would be a better story.
Let's presume they're both family-owned, made by honorable individuals, in the same region. Same grape varieties too. Same level of oak. The only difference is that one made corrections and in the cellar (and irrigated or what have you in the vineyard).
Estate grapes? Organic? Conventional? Old vines? Designated hitter?
David Bueker - Rieslingfan

User avatar
R M Kriete
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 702
Joined: April 27th, 2010, 8:07 am
Location: Indialantic, Florida
Has thanked: 110 times
Been thanked: 12 times

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

#186 Post by R M Kriete »

Both 100 point wines and presumably equally interesting? I’m going with the less expensive of the two [wink.gif]

User avatar
Taylor Broussard
Posts: 1289
Joined: January 10th, 2013, 10:28 am
Location: California
Has thanked: 13 times
Been thanked: 5 times

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

#187 Post by Taylor Broussard »

Mel Knox wrote: April 6th, 2021, 9:29 am Taylor,

What usually happens is that critics judge wines by how closely a winemaker follows his or her own philosophy about winemaking. So the guy who waters back etc might never get that 100 pts from certain writers...unless judging is done blind.

How a wine is made is usually part of the sales spiel. Kermit Lynch made de Montille famous for not chaptalizing. In the 70s unfined and unfiltered was big. Tegan Passalacqua talks about own rooted vines. Family owned is a big thing today.
In this hypothetical, these are two 100 point wines by your own assessment. I appreciate everyone's effort here to avoid answering the hypothetical though - presumably it's too revealing...! [wow.gif]

User avatar
Vince T
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 916
Joined: November 12th, 2015, 12:25 pm
Location: Philly, SF, NYC
Has thanked: 52 times
Been thanked: 51 times

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

#188 Post by Vince T »

There's a fantastic discussion between the Bedrock guys and Will Bucklin of Old Hill Ranch on this week's 2-part episode of Bedrock Wine Conversations. It's more Michelangelo and Galileo at a bar, and less "dancing angels on the head of a pin".

They discuss a number of factors including irrigation, and even though they try to mostly dry farm, they're not purists and have installed irrigation on certain plots to be used in emergencies. But it's most interesting to hear them geek out on the impact of organic matter and soil microbiome on the expression of terroir. I like the term that MTP uses to describe terroir - the "vineyard's thumbprint".

FWIW, they also discuss their secret nostalgia for chaptalizing wines, which Will did at Lafite, and MTP's love of Calon Segur based on a memory of bags of sugar waiting to be dumped into the wines there... [wow.gif]
T s 3 n g

User avatar
Carole Meredith
BerserkerBusiness
BerserkerBusiness
Posts: 335
Joined: May 4th, 2009, 8:57 am
Location: Mount Veeder, Napa
Has thanked: 19 times
Been thanked: 13 times

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

#189 Post by Carole Meredith »

Mel Knox wrote: April 6th, 2021, 8:51 amCarole. Meredith: did the fellow who takes care of your vineyard get in the movie??He takes excellent pictures and seems very handy. What movie was this??
Mel, the movie with my 'bullshit' line was "Somm: Into the Bottle" (aka Somm 2). Steve wasn't in that one (maybe his weedeater was, we're not sure). But he was in another SommTV thing we did last year: "Verticals", Season 1, Episode 1". That was entirely about Lagier Meredith. Yes, he is a very handy guy. I like having him around.

Carole
Carole Meredith
Lagier Meredith Vineyard
Mount Veeder, Napa

User avatar
J a y H a c k
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 14391
Joined: May 29th, 2009, 9:59 am
Has thanked: 5 times
Been thanked: 38 times

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

#190 Post by J a y H a c k »

Vince T wrote: April 6th, 2021, 10:31 am . . . FWIW, they also discuss their secret nostalgia for chaptalizing wines, which Will did at Lafite, and MTP's love of Calon Segur based on a memory of bags of sugar waiting to be dumped into the wines there... [wow.gif]
Nothing list bursting a bubble. [stirthepothal.gif]
Yes, that's a DM of 1978 Mouton!

You can read my Financial Institutions Law Blog at https://www.gdblaw.com/blog?practiceID=4985.

Jonathan Loesberg
Posts: 1994
Joined: April 27th, 2010, 5:59 am
Been thanked: 18 times

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

#191 Post by Jonathan Loesberg »

Look, if as is the case with many of you commenting here, you really don't believe either a)in the significance of terroir or. b)in the reality of it as a definable category, than it is pretty meaningless to comment on what Brunier says. If terroir either doesn't matter or doesn't exist, it hardly matters to it whether one irrigates or not. It's like having an argument over what the heat source is for the fire dragons breathe. If they don't exist, it can hardly matter what the heat source is.

Another red herring is the difference between irrigation and rain. The opposition is between irrigating during a drought and not irrigating. Since drought is a regular occurrence in summer in the Southern Rhone, this is a meaningful choice to make and not one about angels on the head of pins.

Further, since the AOC of CdP requires that one not irrigate any vines that are not so young as not to be in production, it follows that the people who made the rules do think that the decision not to irrigate is a meaningfully distinguishing element of the wine made there. For those who speak French, that is part of the meaning of terroir with regard to wine. You may think they are wrong so to believe, but you can hardly blame M. Brunier for posturing because he does agree with them.

Now if you want to argue that irrigation won't change the grapes harvested in a drought as opposed to not irrigating, I'm not enough of a scientist to dispute the case, though it seems to me unlikely that one would bother irrigating if it made no difference. Whether it will change them for the better is, of course, a matter of taste, and thus neither here not there in this thread. Or, if you want to argue about terroir and what it includes based on your own definition, go right ahead, but I think you will be the one arguing about angels and the heads of pins.

User avatar
Roy Piper
Posts: 4003
Joined: January 27th, 2009, 1:57 pm
Been thanked: 58 times

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

#192 Post by Roy Piper »

Wonder if he also feels that way about adding sugar to ferments? Which would mean Margaux, DRC and many other top wines from France are not terroir-driven in most years?
[snort.gif]
ITB, text me anytime at 707-266-4168

User avatar
Al Osterheld
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 7947
Joined: March 15th, 2009, 5:47 am
Location: SF Bay
Has thanked: 3 times
Been thanked: 33 times

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

#193 Post by Al Osterheld »

Bordeaux is such a believer in terroir that a Chateau can expand their vineyard by purchasing other vineyards, even ones that are not contiguous.

-Al

Mel Knox
Monopole Crü
Monopole Crü
Posts: 2367
Joined: July 30th, 2010, 8:46 am
Location: San francisco
Been thanked: 30 times

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

#194 Post by Mel Knox »

I once got into an argument with Clive Coates about the idea of a lesser vineyard in Burgundy working at making better wine. He said no matter what the effort the cru level counted more.
I pointed out that he had just praised Ch Haut Marbuzet, a cru bourgeois, for its work. He responded, Bordeaux...they're just a bunch of brands!

Jonathan, you make a very good point. How can people who don't like the notion of terroir argue about it??
William F Buckley Jr once argued that people who weren't Catholics could not argue as to whether Junipero Serra should be a saint. Maybe he had a point but I still don't like torturers to be beatified. But then, there goes the Inquisition!

As I recall, the IMW definition of terroir talks about winemaking practices of the region. So shouldn't every region get to choose?? If the people in Jerez want to allow flor yeast to form ...so be it!
If folks in Oporto want to add high proof during fermentation...ok by moi! And if the people in CNP want to forbid irrigation, that's their business. But if the folks in Monterey want to irrigate their ungrafted vines, so be it as well. Because of the sandy soil in Monterey, they don't need to use rootstock in many parts of the county. I can't wait for somebody in the Santa Lucia Highlands to say, If you have to use rootstock, that's not terroir.

The point many of us terroir cynics make is that every region has its ideas about legal winemaking practices and they seem to forbid what is unnecessary. With skyrocketing alcohols in CNP I am sure somebody will find a work around...reverse osmosis anybody??
ITB

User avatar
Alan Rath
Monopole Crü
Monopole Crü
Posts: 22786
Joined: April 24th, 2009, 12:45 am
Location: Bay Area, CA. Sometimes out to lunch.
Has thanked: 35 times
Been thanked: 69 times

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

#195 Post by Alan Rath »

Jonathan Loesberg wrote: April 6th, 2021, 1:47 pm Look, if as is the case with many of you commenting here, you really don't believe either a)in the significance of terroir or. b)in the reality of it as a definable category, than it is pretty meaningless to comment on what Brunier says. If terroir either doesn't matter or doesn't exist, it hardly matters to it whether one irrigates or not.
Well, I absolutely believe in the significance of terroir. But I don’t think the distinction between rain and irrigation is nearly as big a factor as soil, temperature, and sunlight. A grower can mimic rain, but none of those other factors.

But really, I just find Brunier’s comment self serving and a put down of anyone who doesn’t do things exactly like him. Totally unnecessary. Quite frankly, I’ve found his wines to be overly ripe in most recent vintages, and haven’t bought one in years.

User avatar
Otto Forsberg
Posts: 2083
Joined: December 28th, 2017, 4:26 am
Location: Finland
Has thanked: 97 times
Been thanked: 171 times

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

#196 Post by Otto Forsberg »

Alan Rath wrote: April 6th, 2021, 8:24 pm Well, I absolutely believe in the significance of terroir. But I don’t think the distinction between rain and irrigation is nearly as big a factor as soil, temperature, and sunlight. A grower can mimic rain, but none of those other factors.
Another logical fallacy, this time it's whataboutism! [tease.gif]

Nobody here has said that irrigation would have as bit or bigger impact as soil, temperature or sunlight; of course they are more important. The discussion has been on irrigation, not whether it is more important than the other elements.
But really, I just find Brunier’s comment self serving and a put down of anyone who doesn’t do things exactly like him. Totally unnecessary. Quite frankly, I’ve found his wines to be overly ripe in most recent vintages, and haven’t bought one in years.
And that sounds more like the fox and the sour grapes. neener If Châteauneuf-du-Pape tastes overly ripe, it's definitely terroir at work! And who knows, perhaps irrigation would've made the wines even more ripe, as CdP is known to be a spot so hot that the grapes can shut down and stop the ripening process during droughts and heatwaves. With some irrigation the grapes could ripen steadily, producing more uniformly ripe wines. But hey, then the wines wouldn't be true to the terroir and that specific vintage! [wink.gif]
IG: force.berry / CT: forceberry

User avatar
Tim Heaton
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 1381
Joined: September 8th, 2011, 4:11 pm
Location: Castle Rock, Colorado or Piemonte
Has thanked: 8 times
Been thanked: 27 times

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

#197 Post by Tim Heaton »

Alan Rath wrote: April 6th, 2021, 8:24 pm Well, I absolutely believe in the significance of terroir. But I don’t think the distinction between rain and irrigation is nearly as big a factor as soil, temperature, and sunlight. A grower can mimic rain, but none of those other factors.
canopy management?
ITB: winestrategies
italianwine.blog
CT: Tim He@ton

User avatar
Adam Frisch
BerserkerBusiness
BerserkerBusiness
Posts: 1263
Joined: July 15th, 2019, 5:04 pm
Location: Los Angeles
Has thanked: 136 times
Been thanked: 109 times

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

#198 Post by Adam Frisch »

Carole Meredith wrote: April 5th, 2021, 4:21 pm
Alan Rath wrote: April 4th, 2021, 6:36 pmMy point is really just Carole Meredith’s now famous line: "Can there be any other business where there’s so much bullshit?"
Just for the record, my 'bullshit' line in the film referred to a very wide swath of the wine business, including people who make wine, sell wine, market wine, serve wine, write about wine and review wine. Some of these people actually believe their own bullshit and so probably don't consider it bullshit. Others are well aware that it's bullshit but sling it anyway because it gets them where they want to go.
champagne.gif

Truer words have never been spoken. This industry has the highest BS level of any - and I come from film and advertising! [wow.gif]
Sabelli-Frisch Wines

Owner, proprietor and winemaker at Sabelli-Frisch Wines. I make wine from low-impact vineyards, focus on rare, forgotten, under-appreciated or historic grape varietals. Mission grape is my main red focus. IG: sabellifrisch

Jonathan Loesberg
Posts: 1994
Joined: April 27th, 2010, 5:59 am
Been thanked: 18 times

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

#199 Post by Jonathan Loesberg »

Mel,

Much as I hate to say it, Buckley was right. Since I don't believe in saints, I don't logically have any position on whom the Catholic Church thinks is one any more than I have a position on what branch of the lizard family dragons belong to. One can have a position on whom any organization chooses to honor, however, if one finds the person morally objectionable. And, of course, one can have a position on activities of that organization--such as the Inquisition--that one finds morally objectionable.

Alan,

Irrigation vs. not irrigating during drought, not irrigation vs. rain. Say it ten times until you remember it.

Mel Knox
Monopole Crü
Monopole Crü
Posts: 2367
Joined: July 30th, 2010, 8:46 am
Location: San francisco
Been thanked: 30 times

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

#200 Post by Mel Knox »

Or, irrigation vs not staying in business.

As global warming gets worse, isn't arguing about terroir like arguing about chair placement on the Titanic??

I wonder if cancel culture will get to the nearby Junipero Serra High School. I don't know if it has produced any Saints but it has produced a Patriot--Tom Brady-- a Giant--Barry Bonds, a Trojan--John Robinson--and a Titan, Matt Dickerson.
ITB

Post Reply

Return to “Wine Talk”