We get asked this a lot in the Tasting Room.
California is facing one of its worst droughts on record. In January, Gov. Brown declared a drought State of Emergency. This was brought on by decreased rainfall and snowfall over the last couple of years. Ironically, the last couple of years of drought have produced amazing fruit and baring bad luck, we’re again expecting grapes with intense flavor profiles from 2015’s harvest. So how can we be in a prolonged drought and have great fruit? Let me explain and provide some background…
When vines are watered less, they compensate to ensure survival. Roots will dig deeper in the soil to seek more water. Some believe this also lends to more influence from the terroir, such as increased minerality and complexity. Vines will also develop denser, smaller grapes with less water. With less water in the grapes, all the compounds from which the wines’ color, flavor, acidity and alcohol are derived become more concentrated. Thus, we generally expect vintages from years with less rainfall to have more intense flavor profiles than vintages from “wet years.”
Sounds fantastic, doesn’t it? We’re saving water and producing more flavorful wines! But as with most things, if taken too far, there can be negative consequences. Without enough water, grapes will turn to raisins as the vines conserve what little water they have. Weakened vines will also be more prone to pests and disease. While grape vines are fairly drought tolerant, they do require water to thrive in the long term.
We lease rows on a certified sustainable vineyard from which we get most of our Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes. We also purchase a lot of fruit from throughout the Central Coast. I’m proud to say that most of the grapes going into our wines come from vineyards that utilize sustainable or biodynamic practices. These farming techniques are good for the environment, replenish the soil and conserve water. While Labyrinth doesn’t own vineyards, we are keeping an eye on the drought, monitoring those from who we purchase fruit and will continue producing amazing wines in an environmentally friendly manner. So as long as the drought doesn’t get worse or go on for years, we’ll be fine and you’ll still be obtain our world-class wines.