Last week I was in Portland to judge a nifty event called the Indie Wine Festival. (www.indiewinefestival.com/)This is the mult-talented Lisa Donoughe's forum for independent winemakers who don't produce enough to be embraced by International Pinot Noir Celebrations of the world. Of course I visited vineyards and was stunned by the status quo: Vines on IV hookup.
Just after I returned home to then icy NYC, I got this email from John Paul Cameron, of the Cameron Winery.
Around 4 or 5 years ago, the last time that I
visited an old friend at his winery in the Napa Valley, my son, then aged 14,
asked Michael why he was irrigating. Michael answered that "they had to" to which my 14-year-old laughed derisively and pointed to the still existing old vineyards near him that were not irrigated and never had been.
But this leads me to my main reason for writing. I understand that
you know Doug Tunnel and therefore probably have heard to some extent of the Deep Roots Coalition, of which he is a charter member.
I am fighting a somewhat uphill battle against the supposed
"experts" and consultants in the wine industry here who are
encouraging all newcomers in the concept that one cannot grow
wine grapes here without the benefit of irrigation. Even Domaine
Drouhin's vineyard here is entirely irrigated. The interesting part
is that this continues in spite of research that the irrigators have
pushed at OSU and various other universities which argue against
their practices in terms of quality of resulting product. Sorry to
get political here, but it does sound a bit like the present
administration...ignore the data staring you in the face and proceed
full steam ahead. I started the Deep Roots Coalition several years
ago to offer a counter to the prevailing propaganda being
disseminated, picked 6 charter members and then we added a couple more later. The problem is that we are all small producers and there just isn't enough time to really promote the cause when you're pruning vines, making wine and distributing it!
We are getting help from some retail outlets around the state who promote our cause.
These irrigators are literally drawing down the ancient aquifers underlying our grape-growing region and they need to be impeded ala Mondovino!
John Paul/Cameron Winery
I was tickled to get this because one of the most perplexing sights I saw were the irrigating hoses amongst the Domaine Drouhin vines. I wondered, do they do this just because they are allowed to and not allowed in Burgundy? Is it some form of rebellion or defiant expression of freedom even though the sanity is questionable?