Hatfield Creek Vineyards & Winery, Ramona Valley, California

Fertigation or bust!

Blog 🕔June 28, 2010

How many people do you know who would drive 4 1/2 hours to Las Vegas, stay there 45 minutes and drive home? The answer is two, Norm and Elaine.

Some vineyard owners subscribe to the theory that before planting you must prepare the soil by ripping to depths of several feet, and amending the soil. We didn’t.

When we were getting ready to plant our vines, we did rip the field to a depth of 18 inches, except for the row we planted to climb on the existing fence on the property line, where we couldn’t rip because the fence was in the way. Oddly enough, those are the vines that are the most vigorous. Go figure.

We also did not want to amend the soil, because we were curious to know what kind of grapes the naked soil would produce. So far, the winemakers to whom we have sold grapes are very happy with the quality of our grapes.

And, while we are not an organic vineyard – which is a very difficult and expensive process, we are taking all measures we can to be “sustainable”. We compost (nothing leaves the property), we have sprayed only Roundup to control weeds for both fire protection and bug control (the weeds are habitat for potentially harmful ones), and our preferred method of rodent control is trapping, not poisoning, as well as encouraging the owls and hawks to reside here.

We do however, want to experiment with “wet water” which is the addition of a biodegradable surfactant to our irrigation system. This should result in less water being used when we do irrigate (which is becoming less and less as the vines mature), and the water penetrating the soil more easily to encourage the vine roots to go deeper.

So Norm did his research on fertigation systems which are connected into the drip irrigation line to dispense the product of choice. And being the sort of fellow who needs to kick the tires and slam the doors before buying something, wanted to go see one and talk to the guy who makes them.

So this morning we left our condo in L.A. at 6:45 a.m., arrived in Las Vegas at the manufacturers at 11:00 a.m. in 115 degree heat, talked to him for 45 minutes and turned around and drove back to L.A. with our new fertigation system.

In case, God forbid, there is ever a threat to the vines from a terrible bug or disease, we can also use this equipment to dispense a control for that too.

Cheers,
Elaine