Reaping the Benefits of Cutting-Edge Irrigation Technologies
An increasing number of vineyard managers in Napa Valley are experimenting with cutting-edge technologies to precisely target irrigation scheduling, save water and increase the quality of the fruit on the vine.
Tule Technologies and Ranch Systems provide tools to vintners to measure Actual Evapotranspiration, vine stress and wirelessly provide vineyard data that can be linked to automated irrigation. Pine Ridge Vineyards and Chateau Montelena Winery were early adopters of these technologies and they are impressed with the results.
Our Ranch Systems weather stations combined with the Tule sensors have significantly reduced water use as well as labor. And with precision irrigation, the fruit quality dramatically improves.
- Gustavo Aviña, Vineyard Manager, Pine Ridge Vineyards
Gustavo Aviña, vineyard manager for Pine Ridge Vineyards, first installed a Tule Sensor system at one of their up valley vineyards and spent a year comparing the data against pressure bomb readings. The numbers matched up, leading Aviña to install Tule systems at all of the estate vineyards eliminating the need for time intensive pressure bomb readings. Aviña was facing a particular challenge at their Las Posadas vineyard, which is furthest from the winery. This is typically the last vineyard picked and during harvest it was difficult to send someone up to start and stop the irrigation on a precise time table. Irrigation would occaisionally be delayed because the team was too busy down valley, often relying on the pre-set schedule to guide irrigation versus feedback from the vineyard about overall need.
The Pine Ridge team decided to install a combined Tule and Ranch System with automated irrigation. Today Aviña starts and stops irrigation at the Las Posadas vineyard from his computer, providing the vines with the right amount of water at the right time. This also allows him to irrigate at night when desired, reducing evaporative loss. In the process, they’ve cut water use, improved labor efficiency and fine-tuned the Las Posadas vineyard to produce the highest quality fruit.
Once the vines show visual symptoms of stress, the root cause has already taken hold. Decisions are reactionary. Tule shows us vine stress through water status considerably before the vines exhibit visual stress. This accelerates the feedback loop and allows us to tailor irrigation in real-time based on current conditions.
- Matthew Crafton, Winemaker, Chateau Montelena Winery
Chateau Montelena has 100 acres of estate vineyards broken into several blocks. Winemaker Matt Crafton had two favorite blocks on the estate where he installed Tule sensors to establish the timing and patterns of water stress that were leading to the desired quality of fruit. After a complete vintage, Chateau Montelena began applying this new knowledge to another two blocks that were consistently underperforming – experiencing both excessive vigor and delivering average fruit quality.
Using data from the high-performing vineyards, Crafton fed targets and parameters into the online system for how much stress they wanted to see over time, using this information to time irrigation and to refine the parameters of several growing seasons. The results have been dramatic: A former problem block now produces estate fruit every year and what was the least desriable vineyard block is now the the shining star. Crafton says, “This system has paid for itself twenty times over in terms of quality improvements, not to mention we significantly reduced our water use.”
Making the commitment to third party certification takes time and effort, but it is worth it to demonstrate our commitment to the community and to protect our watershed, our land and the air we breathe.
It’s been a big week at Napa Green and we want to take a moment to raise a glass to salute you all.
We are overjoyed to see so much support and invigorated interest in our mission towards sustainable practices and regenerative agriculture in the wine industry.
We have many more details, paired with educational & financial resources that are already up and rolling on our website. We will continue to share them all, one by one and in great detail here on socials as well.
For now please plan on joining us at our upcoming Town Hall meeting on Dec 7th at @stsupery. You can find more details at napagreen.org.
Cheers and Happy Friday Napa Valley. We are so proud to be a part of this amazing community!
Join us for the Soil & Shadow Implicit Bias Training on Thursday, November 30th at Dominus Estate with @nikki_silvestri.
‘Exploring what Regenerative Farming Systems can teach us about Regenerative Social Systems.’
This is a rarely-available, full-day leadership opportunity. For anyone who joined us for our 2022 & 2023 THRIVES/RISE Climate & Wine Symposiums and heard Nikki Silvestri speak our guess is that for you, like us, 60-minutes wasn’t enough.
Soil and Shadow works with C-Suite executives, leaders and teams to build the relational and professional development skills for high performance, diversity, equity and inclusion.
One of the elements that makes the Soil and Shadow expertise so relevant and valuable for Napa Green leaders is that their frameworks use living systems to model healthy social systems.
Napa Green will be covering half the cost of the tickets to this event. Register asap at the link in our bio. . . 📸: Laine Kuehn
Congratulations to Napa Green Certified @boeschenvineyards on being featured in @pressdemo as a first to offer hazard pay and disaster insurance to seasonal agricultural workers! Read on for more and find the link in our bio to the full story..
“To Boeschen, committing to this small safety net in times of emergency isn’t just the right thing to do. It’s the way labor relations are headed in the wine business.
When vineyard crews showed up for this year’s harvest at Boeschen Vineyards, a small winery that operates largely out of a cave dug into a pretty hillside off Silverado Trail just north of St. Helena, they were asked to listen to a three-minute presentation.
Doug Boeschen, the business’ owner, informed these seasonal agricultural workers, among the most economically vulnerable in the North Bay, that the winery was now offering them a combination of hazard pay and disaster insurance.
Boeschen will provide an option to its workers — including the seasonal labor that pours into the region’s renowned vineyards for just a few days or weeks at a time. If the Air Quality Index climbs above 150, Boeschen’s workers will be able to choose between receiving time-and-a-half to remain on the job, or to take paid time off.
Boeschen will also pay its laborers if they are forced to leave a worksite under an evacuation order.”
This article also features other notable efforts on behalf of larger companies and regions working towards the same end. We highly recommend you read the full article!
Sierra is our Soil & Climate Specialist at Napa Green and her ask this year is that everyone consider donating to our small but mighty Team Green for Giving Season!
Here is more from @regenwithsierra:
“🎃 Happy Halloween Eve everyone! Today is my birthday, and I would be beyond thrilled if you would consider a donation to @napagreen to support a nonprofit focused on climate action in the wine industry 🍷🍾
@napagreen has the leading set of standards for sustainable practices, from soil to bottle. I am most proud of the work we do with winegrape growers to adopt regenerative agricultural practices in their vineyards.
Please consider supporting us in our mission! Click the link in bio for more! “