One great thing about Market of Choice, and the Beer and Wine department, is the commitment to furthering the education and experience of our stewards. A couple of weeks ago, some co-workers and I had the opportunity to visit a coalition of wineries that included some of the best wine producers from the Willamette valley. This group is called the Deep Roots Coalition (or DRC).
The overriding purpose of this group is to greatly increase the awareness that, with few exceptions, irrigation for vines has a largely negative impact on the quality of the wine. In the 1970s, a lot of producers in California began what was then the rare practice of irrigating their vines. This seemed like a great idea, getting more juice from the same plants. Another perceived advantage was that growers could use previously arid, unsuitable land to grow vines. Followers and fans of great wine know that this is not how you choose land to plant vines. The French concept of terrior tells us that if a particular vine is not suited to the land, it should not be planted there. This idea also extends into the weather of the area. Each wine should be a representation of that piece of land, including the weather that occurs during the growing season.
The historic principle of terrior is circumvented with irrigation. A number of negative things happen. The root structure itself stays at the surface with the water, preventing the vine from developing through the different sub soils that give wine its depth and character. Vines can and do grow as deep into the soil as 35-40 feet when the roots are not irrigated. With irrigation the berries are larger and the ratio of juice to skin rises. This increases the sugar in the grape, which in turn boosts the alcohol content, and can result in a “hot” wine. These are just some of the examples that you can learn more about by researching dry-farmed wines on the Internet.
Positive attributes of the movement to non-irrigated vines are evident from all of the producers that are carried at Market of Choice: Evesham Wood Vineyards, Brickhouse, Eyrie Vineyards, and Cameron Winery are just some of the highly regarded wines that are available now. Any time you are looking for something new, or just have a question that’s been on your mind about wine, don’t be afraid to ask. Market of Choice always strives to have knowledgeable and helpful Wine Stewards to assist you on your next wine adventure