To irrigate or not to irrigate in the vineyard?

The summer started with a lot of rain in some parts of France. But in Languedoc-Roussillon it is getting dry. During a hot summer with hardly any rain, some vineyards will have problems, especially those with young vines. It was taboo in the old days in France to talk about irrigation. But times change. Now we see more and more drip irrigation in Southern France, especially for IGP wines (former vin de pays).

The water mirror at Vina Vik, Chile

The water mirror at Vina Vik, Chile, copyright BKWine Photography

Good quality wines often come from vineyards with just the right amount of water supply, neither too much nor too little. The vine should not be spoiled; on the contrary, you want them to feel a little bit stressed. But not too much. Wine growers today know much more about water stress than they did a few years ago. If the vine gets too little water there is a risk that the ripening process simply stops. Irrigation may be a solution.

Today 10 % of the Languedoc-Roussillon vineyard is irrigated. They also have irrigation to a small extent in the South-west and in Provence. In the New World however, the figures are different. 83% of the surface under vine is irrigated. For Europe as a whole the figure is below 10 %.

In France, it is permitted to irrigate IGP wines from after the harvest and until August 15, or earlier if la véraison (when the grapes change colour) occurs earlier than this date. For AOC wines it is permitted only until June 15. But exceptions can be made.

The figures are from

Here you can see how irrigation is done: at midway down the page is a video that shows two types of irrigation in Mendoza vineyards (plus some nice landscapes).

Vine pruned in winter in water

Vine pruned in winter in water, copyright BKWine Photography

This post is also available in: Swedish

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  1. Dry farming versus irrigation. Is there one correct choice for wine vineyards? | Real Men Drink Rose' - March 16, 2018

    […] To irrigate or not to irrigate in the vineyard? by Britt Karlsson on September 4, 2014 […]

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