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Mendoza Report, part 4: Irrigation and the limits of a good thing

>> Wednesday, September 08, 2010

The Andes are not just a beautiful background to the vineyards. Their melting water is also the thing that makes it possible to produce wine in this very dry region. ”Water, it’s the most important thing we have. If you control the water, you control the quality of the grapes”, says Luis Cabral de Almeida at Finca Flichman. But you have to control also the amount of water you give your grapes. You have to adapt the amount depending on grape variety, location and season. Luis gives very little, for instance, after vĂ©raison (that is, after the grapes have changed colour).

Trapiche uses some pretty sophisticated methods to decide the amount of water they need to give to their vines.

An automatic weather station gives daily “evapotranspiration” data and a pressure chamber allows them to test the leaf water status. Based on this information they can optimize their irrigation decisions. “Sometimes you need to stress the vines a little bit, you should definitely never spoil them”, says Guillermo Yaciofano, Trapiche’s vineyard manager.

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