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As harvest nears, I got the chance to sit down with winemaker Jeremy Weintraub to find out more about what is currently happening in the vineyard and learn about the uniques ways that he measures water levels in the soil.
Q. What is Veraison and why is it important?
A. Veraison signals the onset of ripening and is when the pigment in the grape changes from green to red or black. The grapes will soften, accumulate sugar, and lose some of their acid.
Q. Has Veraison began in the Adelaida Estate?
A. Historically, we’re still about two weeks away from Veraison; however, we’re beginning to see quite a bit of coloring come up in a few varieties (most notably Pinot Noir).
Q. What are you doing in the vineyard right now?
A. The vineyard crew has been busy tidying up the grapevines and ensuring that the fruit clusters get just the right amount of sunlight to ripen to their full potential, but not too much light or heat that they get sunburned or lose color potential. It is a balancing act.
Q. What Tools are you using to ensure that the vineyard has enough water?
A. Water is vital to all life. For a grapevine, water demands change throughout the season. We monitor plant water use and needs through a combination of our own eyes as well as sensors placed throughout the ranches that record evapotranspiration and soil moisture.
Our third tool is the dog paw—more specifically, the digging action of Oliver our vineyard dog. If we see moist soil six inches below the surface, we know that the vine has plenty of water to draw from. We combine this observation with the soil measurements of our probes. Our vineyard probes measure water up to 48 inches below the surface in four inch increments.
Q. Why is it important to check water levels in the soil?
A. We need to check levels to ensure that each variety is getting what it needs. We want our red grape varieties to experience a moderately high amount of stress leading up to Veraison, which ensures the proper functioning of physiological processes without killing the plant. With white grape varietals, we don’t really want to stress them at all.
Q. How often do you water the vineyard?
A. We irrigate only when necessary for plant life and quality. Also 33% of our vineyards are not irrigated and rely solely on what Mother Nature provides us during the rainy season so those vineyards are never watered.