Controlling vigor by restricting water

July 1, 2012

As we’ve mentioned in a few previous posts, our Montana Vista block of Cabernet Sauvignon is quite vigorous, meaning that the vines are prone to growing very rapidly. More specifically, it is the Eastern half of Montana Vista that is highly vigorous, which is the half that has what is called red basaltic soil.

This red soil is characteristic of certain sections of the Mayacamas mountain range. Monte Rosso vineyards, our neighbor to the East and South, is named after this soil (Monte Rosso means Red Mountain).

This basaltic soil has a high proportion of clay in it, which means that it retains water instead of letting it drain away like a rockier, sandier soil would. More water means more vigor and, ultimately, a larger canopy.  We’ve been watering Montana Vista at the same rate as the rest of the property for the last few weeks, because keeping the vines well hydrated helps to improve set (it keeps the flowers from shattering and improves our yield of fruit). Now that set is past, we are cutting the amount of water to this block by about half to help keep the size of the vines under control.

This means that we are going to have to watch this block very closely for signs of water stress, especially if it starts to get very hot out. If you’re not careful it’s possible to damage the fruit, or even kill the vine, during sudden hot spells. This level of attention would be hard to give in a much larger vineyard, fortunately we are small enough that this kind of focus is possible.

To visit the Amapola Creek Winery main site, please click here.

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