It is no secret that Cameron Winery does not use irrigation in our vineyards. It is also no secret that we are part of a like-minded group of wineries/grape growers who feel the same way (The Deep Roots Coalition). The reasons for eschewing irrigation are multifarious but are rooted in a common notion that it makes sense and is truly sustainable. One need only look south to the Russian River in Sonoma County to see the crisis that is developing around this topic. We recommend that you watch A Return to Dry Farming – an excellent film that shows how dry farming can be one solution to the current water shortages in Sonoma County.
Given that grapes have been farmed for literally thousands of years without irrigation, why is it that large segments of the viticultural community now think that it is impossible to farm without it? The answer likely comes down to money: it is generally quicker to get grapes on line and to start turning a profit with irrigation and one can achieve larger crops with it.
But what is the cost in the quality of the wine? I would argue that the cost is significant. The grapevine leaf canopies are essentially sugar factories turning out sucrose that is exported to the grape clusters. Irrigated vines are turning out so much sugar in the course of a growing season that the resulting fruit from these vineyards routinely comes in at 25-26% sugar by weight resulting in alcohols that are 14-15%. This is not wine of finesse. This is not wine of complexity.
The wines from our dry-farmed grapes typically come in at 12.5-13.0% alcohol. The yields are typically low (1.5-2.5 tons per acre) and the intensity and complexity of the wines are astonishing. These are wines that go with food.
And perhaps most important, at the end of the day we know that our vineyards and way of life will endure for the next generation. A vineyard that exists on the notion of being sustained by a disappearing aquifer or stream cannot say the same.Share This
Recent News & Rants
I am a bit perplexed by the popularity of a relatively new genre of wine: “Natural Wines”. In my opinion, this is a narrow and arbitrary classification meant to suit the marketing needs of whoever is using it. When I see a cloudy wine and am told “Oh this is a natural wine”, I am compelled to retort “I can’t think of anything more natural than gravity…maybe the winemaker should have waited to rack his wine for bottling!” And when one encounters a wine which is either oxidized or smells of fingernail polish remover or has been brutalized by a lactic acid bacteria infection, sure these are “natural processes” but they also emanate from poor winemaking practices.There’s More... >
2016 was an extremely dry and warm vintage. Because of water stress, the berries were smaller and crop smaller than usual. However, a beneficient rain in early September re-hydrated the fruit and the result is a cellar of very concentrated and wonderfully balanced wines. Get ready for a brilliant 2016 vintage of small production down the road!There’s More... >
Guido, our 18 year old Tuxedoed cat, quietly passed away on August 18. For 17 vintages, Guido was our constant companion in the cellar, in the vineyard, in the yurt.There’s More... >