Some Vineyards Have Chosen to Grow their Grapes with Less Water and it is Working
You normally don't think of a deficit being a good thing but for local vineyards the lack of irrigation is helping.
Some farmers started the irrigation deficit in 1999 as an experiment to see how the grapes would react and it seems to be paying off.
By not watering as often it puts stress on the vine which makes a smaller grape, which in turn makes better red wine and gives wine makers more options for blending grapes.
Dr. Russell Smityman, Director of Viticulture and Research for Ste. Michelle Winery, says we're trying to use deficit irrigation to create a small berry, an open canopy and have lots of sun exposure on the fruit and hence a better quality wine.
The goal is to apply enough water to protect the root zone of the vine during the winter but farmers want the least amount come spring so that they don't have to water as much before they harvest.
By reducing the water in the vineyard it also reduces the labor and cost to manage the crops.