There are a number of ways we can responsibly irrigate our vineyards while being mindful of watersheds, water levels, and conservation of natural resources.
You wouldn’t use a showerhead to fill a water glass; most of the water would land everywhere except in your glass. So why would we use overhead irrigation as the main way to water individual vines? The easy answer: we shouldn’t.
In 2010 we began a massive overhaul of the irrigation systems in our vineyards: a move from overhead to drip irrigation. It’s like replacing that showerhead with a programmable squirt gun – on drip mode, over all 150 acres.
Like any big undertaking, we tackled this project one section at a time. First we changed 30 acres at Diamondback. Next, 5 acres at the home vineyard were converted. In 2012 we switched another 40+ acres to drip. By 2014 we had upgraded mainlines, valves, and pumps at both vineyard sites.
It’s a $1M investment with multi-layered benefits. We now use approximately 70% less water, and what we use is better distributed – which helps the fruit to ripen more evenly. Less water also means fewer pests and less plant disease. Our business is more sustainable, too.
When you think of agriculture the term “Salmon-Safe” might not be quick at hand. However, salmon – and other fish – depend on farmers more than one might realize. What’s on the surface of vine leaves, grape skins, or earth gets carried right into the waterways we rely on.
Recently we received certification from the Pacific Salmon foundation as a Salmon-Safe farm; we’re one of the first wineries to achieve this.
Salmon Safe means passing a rigorous assessment of processes – from managing run-off, to reducing pesticides, and advancing environmental practices in the community. It’s a set of peer-reviewed guidelines in agricultural practices that protect water quality, fish and wildlife habitat, and overall watershed health.
We’re not done yet. Future plans include developing specialized “biodiversity islands” to help ensure beneficial insects and wildlife have access to appropriate habitats, as well as devising ways to slow down or capture water from major storms.
This is the desert, and we’re helping preserve our fish friends. Wondering what you can do? Visit websites like www.salmonsafe.org for details.