Monday, August 13, 2007

Mapping your vineyard

Just the other day I'd posted about having NASA and Vestra help map your vineyard site...

Well, that got me thinking about the vineyard I'd brought up as an example, and I'd thought that I should expand upon that...

DO NOT wander around into people's vineyards without advanced permission to do so! As someone with vineyards, I can tell you that there's no better way to piss off a farmer than running through their property without even the slightest regard for all the hard work they've done over the years, and you may also be putting yourself in harm's way - especially if the vines in question have been sprayed recently (many times there are 10~14 day periods after spraying some compounds when NO ONE is allowed to go back into the vineyard), so if you don't know what's been done to the vines, don't enter! Of course, you can ask the owner if it's safe when you call them to ask if you can have permission in the first place (hint, hint!) - Ok, end of public service message!)

Since I know where the vineyard is, it was easy enough for me to provide an overlay of the Vestra/NASA data onto the real (visual) image so that everyone else could get an idea of how this information is used. As I'd mentioned, the vineyard is ~500 acres, in the Carneros AVA in southern Sonoma & Napa counties (it straddles the County line)...and it is just south of HWY 12/121 between Stornetta's Dairy and Domaine Carneros.

The vineyard has a high point of ~320' and a low point of ~40' above sea-level, and has portions which are well drained and parts which are near the creek which runs to the east side of the property. That point is important when selecting root stock to use for the vines: one which is less vigorous and doesn't mind "wet feet" as they say, for the areas with more water, one with higher vigor and more drought tolerant for the dry areas...
Anyways, enough! Let's look at what we can see when we overlay the information from the web onto the visual satellite image (Google Earth used for the background image)...South of the vineyard lies the San Pablo Bay, and the land become much more saline as you approach that, and there can be higher levels of boron in the soil as well as sodium.
For the following view, I've tilted the angle a bit so that you can see the differences in elevation a little more easily, and I've added the Sonoma-Napa county line to illustrate the fact that the vineyard lies on both sides of it...
...on the lower right hand of the image, you can see the lowest point of the vineyard along the creek (just above the Google tag), while the highest point lies on the county line towards the left hand side of the image. Then I've repositioned us a bit to the NNE, and looking towards what would be San Francisco off on the horizon you can really start to appreciate the variation in elevation and terrain...
This vineyard is interesting in that you can see the vigor of the blocks from the overlay data, as well as the geographic data, and helps convey to the winemaker and vineyard staff what directions they may have to go in the future to get the best possible wine. It also is of interest because it helps illustrate some points I made a while ago regarding single vineyard designated wines: it's large, not really homogenous with various exposures, drainages, and elevations, etc.
Yet by the TTB reg's this whole vineyard could be vinted and bottled as a "single vineyard" which may or may not be what the publics perception of "single vineyard" might be. Not that there's anything wrong with that, mind you, as it is the same rule which applies to all vineyards from all producers in the US...but the public has to understand that what we are presented with when purchasing a wine of that type is in all honesty the closest example to a specific
terroir as we may ever get...
Indeed, it also points out that what we call
terroir is more likely an effect of specific microclimate than anything else...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for the etiquette reminder!
I used to live next to a vineyard and can't count how many times I had to shooo people out of MY yard - even though obviously it had nothing to do with the vineyard next to my fence.

All the tourists looked at me like I was from another planet, regardless of how polite & nice I was. One lady even rationalized that it was ok for her to be ther since "it was hot, and I'm not hurting anything". After a while I gave up being nice since it did'nt seem to matter in the long run, and I really didn't want to do anything that might encourage people to return for a second visit!
I also couldn't care less for why they thought they should be allowed in my yard or eating the apples from my tree or my berry bushes. Like any of them would be happy to wake up one morning & find me unexpectedly in THEIR backyards! They'd be calling the police -the jerks!

Now most tourists are OK, but the ones that ended up in my yard were a bunch of thoughtless hypocrites if you ask me.

Oh, and nice maps.

August 13, 2007 9:44 AM  
Anonymous vargas said...

People really are something. I can just imagine it! Next thing you know after having gotten sick from being around sprayed vines they'll be yammering about lawsuits.

August 13, 2007 5:08 PM  
Blogger St. Vini said...

I don't know what to tell you, Anon...

Most people I encounter aren't rude to me & leave, but I guess there are some exceptions.

I did interrupt a photographer once to ask how long she'd be in my vineyard, and she got a bit haughty with me, but other than that it's been fairly polite. I don't think people are trying to get your dander up, probably it's just more a knee-jerk reaction to being caught off guard by someone in authority...I don't think they ever expect to run into the person who owns/manages the land they trespass onto.

Vargas, yeah, that's why signage is needed for the vineyard blocks (bilingual, English & Spanish) to make sure that nobody unknowingly enters. Though there may still be some idiot somewhere who would try to file suit claiming the vineyard was an "attractive nuisance", or perhaps that the number of signs & locations of them were inadequate.
Better to farm organic to help avoid that exposure (both physical & financial).


August 14, 2007 5:53 AM  

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