Growing better grapes by conserving water. A leading winemaker reveals his viewpoints on water and wine in discussing irrigation and dry farming.
Continuing on with our Ask The Expert series here at Reverse Wine Snob, we turn to winemaker Aurelio Montes Sr of Montes Wines in Chile to discuss Water and Wine - Irrigation and Dry Farming.
For Montes, minimizing the consumption of water resources is fundamental and the motivation for constant innovation in projects focusing on proper water management and conservation. Our Research & Development Department, founded in 2009, works with different governmental agencies and universities and enables us to share our advances and new technological tools with our local community.
We are aware that water is a scant resource and it is our duty to be responsible with its use, especially given the low levels of precipitation in Chile's central zone in recent years.
For us, dry farming means that the vines will receive the average yearly amount of rainfall measured during the harvest season. For example, in our Apalta Vineyard, the average rainfall is 435 millimeters. If a dry year supplies 300 millimeters, we will irrigate to provide the missing 130mm to complete the natural rain cycle and nothing above that.
The benefits of this approach are reduced cluster weight (-22%, from 125 grams to 95 grams), and increased skin to pulp content in grapes (from 12% to 37% of grape weight). This results in enriched fruitiness, increased aromatic expression, softer tannins and richer color for our wines.
Continuing with these efforts, all of our vineyards are drip irrigated and highly efficient in their water use. Some examples of this approach are keeping our rows covered with wood bark, obtaining 19% of water savings and use of short canopy, adding 13% of water savings, to name a few.
After years of studies and using the latest technology, by following these and other steps, we have reduced our water footprint (liters of water used / liters of wine) by 65% — equivalent to the average annual consumption of 20,000 people or 840 million liters.
Another fascinating answer! Thanks to Aurelio Montes Sr of Montes Wines for sharing his philosophy on Water and Wine - Irrigation and Dry Farming.
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