Welcome to Charles Communications Associates newly designed newsletter All The Swirl. We’ve had a busy summer and now are gearing up for harvest parties, enjoying the late August bounty of corn and tomatoes and making our packing lists for some road travel as the Wines of Uruguay visit the U.S. this coming September. We invite you to read about the goings on of our dynamic clients and team and look forward to sharing more in the coming months!
-- Kimberly Charles, Founder
Charles Communications Associates
Return To Outside Lands with SakeOne. By Jonathan Cristaldi
For the second consecutive year, I had the pleasure of overseeing social engagement for SakeOne, producer of Oregon craft sake and importer of fine Japanese sake, at San Francisco’s Outside Lands (OSL) festival. Easily one of the most sophisticated and well-oiled festival machines, OSL brought crowds by the tens of thousands and heralded...READ MORE.
Dry Farming During California's 2014 Water Crisis
By Alex Fondren, Account Executive, WSET
Dry Farming During California’s 2014 Water Crisis For most farmers in the New World, the words “dry” and “farming” are mutually exclusive. In short, “dry farming” is the practice of farming in sync with nature’s cycle and without supplemental irrigation.
In almost every wine–growing region in Europe, mechanical irrigation is prohibited by law; however, most of those vineyards receive summer rainfall to sustain the vines. In California, dry farmed vineyards are as rare as summer rainfall. To successfully dry farm in California, vineyards must rely on winter rainfall stored deep in the soil to sustain the vines. Obviously this can be difficult even in non-drought years.
Sonoma’s Emeritus Vineyards, founded by noted wine visionary and entrepreneur Brice Jones, has recently committed to becoming 100% dry-farmed, eschewing irrigation. Dry farming saves Emeritus Vineyards both human, environmental and cash resources, while implementing water-saving techniques that benefit the environment; especially in a drought year such as California has been experiencing in 2014. From a strictly financial perspective, the cost of running irrigation pumps is excessive. This is the biggest financial saving, on the order of maybe 5% of vineyard costs.
Only a precious few Northern California vineyards are dry farmed, but all are sources of the region’s most complex and character–driven wines. Mechanical irrigation disrupts the vine’s natural growth cycle and the vine responds to the pattern of irrigation rather than the unique weather pattern of the growing season. In an irrigated vineyard, the roots grow in a tangled ball about 18” in diameter, directly under the drip emitter. During periods of high temperatures and drought, irrigated vines can easily dehydrate. The roots’ interaction is limited to the topsoil and the wine’s potential to express “terroir” cannot be fully achieved from grapes produced from vines whose roots spend their lives in an 18–inch root ball under the drip emitter.
Dry farmed vines are forced to grow roots over 30 feet into the vineyard’s subsoil in search of water. The deeper root system makes the vine much more tolerant of extreme surface temperatures and able to thrive in drought conditions. 2011 was a cool vintage and many vineyards could not reach full ripeness before untimely rains fell in early October. The Emeritus Pinot was in sync with its natural growth cycle, and achieved full ripeness in late September. At the other end of the spectrum, the winter of 2013–2014 saw California experience a significant drought, yet the dry farmed vineyards are thriving.
The key to successful dry farming is finding that rare combination of soils capable of dry farming in a microclimate where the grape variety will thrive naturally. Emeritus reduced electrical costs for pumping well water and running irrigation systems. Fuel costs have gone down with fewer miles traveled to far-flung vineyards to run the irrigation system. Sheep graze in the vineyards, lessening the percentage of tractor mowing. All of these small changes reduced operating costs as well as their carbon footprint. The savings Emeritus realized in monetary, human and environmental resources due to dry farming can and should be used as a case study for any green-minded winery hoping to experiment with the technique.
By Kimberly Charles In the early morning hours of August 24th, Northern California, specifically the southern Napa region known as American Canyon, was rocked by a 6.1 magnitude earthquake that jolted many out of bed within a several hundred mile radius. For me, a sixteen-year resident of California, transplanted from New York City, this was by far the biggest jolt I’d felt since...READ MORE.