If you pay very much attention to wine, sooner or later, you’ll probably come across the term “dry farmed” and wonder what impact that has had on the bottle in your hands. Here’s what every wine fan needs to know about dry farm vineyards and the wine they produce.
Dry Farming Uses Up Less Water
Water is a limited resource, and drip-irrigation uses up a lot of it. Dry farming is different. In this method, grapevines receive only the hydration that comes naturally from the rain that falls and the moisture in the soil.
This approach reduces the environmental impact of farming. Not only is water itself conserved, but so too is the energy that would otherwise be required for operating the irrigation equipment.
Dry Farming Is the European Way
Most European vineyards operate on dry farming principles. In fact, in some places, that’s the only legally accepted method of growing grapes.
In other parts of the world, dry farming is not yet as common. Popularity is growing, however, as farmers discover the benefits of dry farms.
Dry Farming Can Be Done in Both Wet and Dry Climates
Yes, some parts of the U.S., such as the northeast and northwest get plenty of rain each year. Those conditions can be ideal for growing grapes without irrigation.
Dry farming isn’t limited to these parts of the country, though. Areas that see less rainfall each year and ones that are susceptible to drought can still find success with this growing method. That’s because the vines send their roots deep into the ground. Five to 10 feet down, the plants find the water that they need for sustained growth.
Established Plantings Can Be Easier to Transition to Dry Farming
Rainfall can be unpredictable from year to year. While a vineyard might receive abundant precipitation one year, the next year could be a bust.
The secret to successful dry farming lies in relying on vines with deep roots. Older, more established plants are more likely to have these reliable roots that go down deep to where moisture is more constant. That’s why, even in Europe where dry farming is the standard, the regulations are different for young plants that are just getting their start.
Dry Farm Vineyards May Produce Better Wines
Often, the grapes grown on a dry farm are smaller than those grown with irrigation. Some people claim that this small size makes their flavor more intense. They assert that the concentrated taste in a dry-farmed grape gives the wines that come from them a deeper, richer flavor.
Are they correct? Try a few dry-farmed wines for yourself, and see what you think!