Western SARE From the Field Profile
Water Use of Wine Grapes in the Granitic Soils of the Fair Play Wine Region in the Sierra Foothills
Producer: Brian Fitzpatrick, Phone (800) 245-9166
Technical Advisor: Jim Brockmeyer, Phone (800) 228-9896
Fair Play, California is located in the Sierra Foothills at an elevation of 2,000 to 2,800 feet. Although wine grape production has flourished in the region, Fair Play has a limited water supply. No irrigation district delivers water, and no one is certain how much groundwater there actually is. As a result, the vineyard managers in Fair Play looked for a way to increase the efficiency of their water applications. They gathered data on the following:
- How, where, and when the grapevines extract water from the soil
- What the root distribution of the grapevines is
- Whether the use of water depends on the slope
- How much water cover crops use
- How effective drip irrigation is
- From what depths the grapevines extract water late in the season
With the help of a Western SARE Farmer/Rancher research grant, these California vintners worked to answer these questions.
To begin the experiment, they set up soil moisture probe sites. A group of Fair Play vintners committed to using a soil moisture monitoring service, which would measure soil moisture at each foot. Using this service, they collected data throughout the season and then applied this data to answer the questions listed above. For part of the experiment, they backhoed trenches along the grapevines and collected root distribution data. The results of this experiment was shared with other vintners through winery and grape growers associations. Through this experiment, the vintners of Fair Play hope to conserve their limited water resources and make their vineyards more sustainable.
Want more information? See the related SARE grant(s) FW00-021, Water Use of Wine Grapes in the Granitic Soils of the Fair Play Wine Region in the Sierra Foothills.
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