Since planting our first vines in 1994, we have been dedicated to making great Pinot Noir. (Perhaps obsessed is a better word.) From the beginning we have utilized many traditional methods that were first established in Burgundy and later adapted to New World conditions. As we came to understand our three vineyard sites better, we developed many of our own groundbreaking techniques to enhance the quality of our wines. We have continually updated and adapted our methodology to match our growing understanding of our terroir and the immutable characteristics of our grapes.
One important area that has been on our radar for the last few years has been water. The application and preservation of water is a priority to everyone in agriculture. There’s also the quality impact of water in the vineyard. The amount of water and the timing of its application has a major influence on the quality and character of wine.
At CDLT, we employ a reduced deficit irrigation (RDI) strategy in our vineyards. We keep the vines perfectly stressed throughout the growing season to ensure lower yields, smaller berries, more concentrated flavors and aromatics. When the vine is water stressed, it focuses its energy on ripening fruit rather than producing leaves.
At all three of our estate vineyards, we use soil moisture probes to monitor the accumulation and retention of water in the ground. We also take constant leaf water potential measurements to gauge the moisture uptake by individual vines. And we record daily temperatures throughout the season to avoid false positives during extreme heat waves, as rare as they are on our chilly mountain outpost.
Over the last few years, we have not only significantly reduced the amount of water we apply to our vines, but we have also seen a correlative increase in the quality of our fruit and the complexity of our wines.
Our goal, and we are very close to achieving it, is to create a system that is fully automated – a system that senses when our vines require water and automatically releases the right amount of water at the right time to the right vines.
Our strategic and sustainable watering program is just another example of our dedication to making great Pinot Noir. (Perhaps obsession is a better word.)