Our Vineyards and the Drought

We are in a historic and prolonged period of drought in California. Without a doubt, this is a major topic of conversation within wine industry circles and also in communities across the state.  In the tasting room, the question is often raised by our guests – “How are you guys dealing with the drought?” “How are the vines?” Everyone wants to know.  The short answer is – the vines are very stressed.  This is year number three of the drought.  There are a lot of people who don’t know that.  Unfortunately, in 2012 and into early 2013, no one really talked about drought conditions, even though that was exactly the scenario that existed.  Dry Creek Vineyard has about 185 acres under vine in both the Dry Creek and Russian River Valley.  For the most part, we have been very fortunate in terms of our ability to access water.  Bevill Vineyard Management, who farms our vineyards, has done an excellent job practicing deficit irrigation.  This process involves monitoring irrigation efforts in all of our vineyards and only watering when probes in the soil or vine water stress measurements indicate that water is needed.  This is not to say that the drought hasn’t affected us.  The irrigation pond at our estate DCV9 Endeavour vineyard went completely dry late this summer which was certainly cause for concern.  We were fortunate to get through this harvest season and receive fruit with excellent flavors, albeit with lower than normal sugars – something we can certainly attribute to the dry conditions.  At the end of the day, we need to have a very wet winter.  Even if that happens we will be nowhere near close to out of the woods in terms of the drought.