Dry Farming Cab Franc

Winemaking Talk - Winemaking Forum

Help Support Winemaking Talk - Winemaking Forum:

matchinthebox

Junior
Joined
Jul 17, 2021
Messages
4
Reaction score
0
Hello,

I'm new around here, came across this great forum doing some Google searches.

I purchased some land, and one of the local requirements to build a home forces me into the cultivated agriculture game! We're "strongly encouraged" to plant grapevines, so we've partnered with a local vineyard management company to help us out with the planting and management. Currently, I'm looking into planting Cab Franc grapes (a mix between clones 214 and 332). We're located in the Livermore Valley AVA in California.

I've always been fascinated with dry farming, so part of me wants to trial doing 1-2 acres as "Dry Farmed". I've read all that I can find on the topic, it's a bit of a roll of the dice. However, according to the local UC extension office, Cab Franc is a great candidate for dry farming in my area and the nursery said others have seen good success with 1103P rootstock and dry farming. Talking with another grower about dry farming, when the topic of trellis came up, his recommendation was to head train (no trellis, just put a stick in the ground with a vine on it). Finding any information online about dry farmed, head trained, cab franc is a bit like finding a $2 bill on the ground!! :).

Wondering if anyone has ever tried, or has seen tried, dry farming Cab Franc? what about old school head trained...cab franc?

Thank you in advance for any help, thoughts or opinions you can provide!
 
Last edited:

matchinthebox

Junior
Joined
Jul 17, 2021
Messages
4
Reaction score
0
Haha. I guess it reads like that. I have a professional vineyard management company helping me out, even with the dry farm part. I already have interest from two local winemakers for the dry farmed grapes. Interest is there…. Just looking for some confidence it can be done before I jump in and spend the money.

It will be an experiment for sure…
 

AaronSC

Member
Joined
Sep 10, 2020
Messages
92
Reaction score
162
I did some reading on this since I was thinking of trying dry farming of grapes. I believe the lower limit on dry farming grapes is about 15" of reliable rain per year, with 25" being much easier. Do you get that where you are? I was talking with a grower over in Yolo county and he claims he had only 6" this season, and he lost almost all of his crop of Grenache (I was going to buy it). Out here in the foothills I get on average 25" but this year got only around 12" or so. It's a gamble these days.

I do agree that head training seems to be the way to go for dry farming, especially with wide spacing. In southern France, where dry-farming is the norm, you see head trained grapes everywhere and it's pretty arid there.
 

matchinthebox

Junior
Joined
Jul 17, 2021
Messages
4
Reaction score
0
That’s tough for Yolo. We average around 15” of rain in this part of the city, rainfall has been bad this past 12 months around 6”. Worse, most of the larger amounts of rainfall occurred in such a short time I don’t feel the ground couldn’t properly absorb it.

For our farm, we do have water rights to a agricultural water pipeline, and we will install permanent drip irrigation for sporadic watering during establishment, and then for emergency backup plan if this all goes to hell. I hope (pray?) that with applying a limited irrigation strategy we can weather through anything.

I bought some WaterMark Soil Moisture probes, they should come next week, once these get installed and start monitoring, it should show pretty quick if this is a go or a bust. Going to put them about 5’ down.
 

balatonwine

The Verecund Vigneron
Joined
May 9, 2017
Messages
1,487
Reaction score
1,625
Location
Badacsony wine region. Hungary
In southern France, where dry-farming is the norm

And very often, the law. ;)

Also the law where I am. Can only water young vines their first year or two after planting, then they have to "tough it out". I also have some head trained vines.

Dry farming typically gives lower yields. And head training also gives lower yields. So the combo gives really low yields. And traditional low heads means a lot of low, bending work to trim and harvest.

How do you know how many vines to plant when dry farming? Worked out over centuries of trial and error in most cases. Some modern measurements can reduce that time, but still would take years to get enough data to plant optimally. I personally would error in the area of caution and plant fewer vines rather than too many.
 

balatonwine

The Verecund Vigneron
Joined
May 9, 2017
Messages
1,487
Reaction score
1,625
Location
Badacsony wine region. Hungary
Finding any information online about dry farmed, head trained, cab franc is a bit like finding a $2 bill on the ground!! :).

Today's search engines are using "artificial stupidity" more and more. That is, the system's algorithms try to "think" for you, and return what they "think" you really wanted, which is more often simply what everyone else wanted. Your search gets lost in the desire of the majority.

To search for obscure issues, you have to resort to search modifiers. If you use this:

+"dry farmed" +"Cabernet franc" +"head trained"

you are specifically asking for results with these topics only.

And this was one of the top results:

Dry Farming Wine Grapes
A Best Management Practice Guide for
California Growers


PDF link:


Hope this helps.
 

matchinthebox

Junior
Joined
Jul 17, 2021
Messages
4
Reaction score
0
CAFF has some great publications, this one you posted has been a sort of bible on the topic for me. Aside form a few books published in the early 1900’s, it’s the best single source of information.…and it’s still pretty vague.
 

balatonwine

The Verecund Vigneron
Joined
May 9, 2017
Messages
1,487
Reaction score
1,625
Location
Badacsony wine region. Hungary
CAFF has some great publications, this one you posted has been a sort of bible on the topic for me. Aside form a few books published in the early 1900’s, it’s the best single source of information.…and it’s still pretty vague.

Dry farming of grapes, while done for millennia, is unlikely to have too many specific "how to" books as each site will be different, so all will be a bit vague as there is no one size fits all method you can apply. You will have to adapt to your local conditions and clobble together information from many different sources.

But there is a lot of research on dry farming, and water conservation related to dry farming in journals. Even online. Use the "site" modifier such as:

for general dry farming info:

site: researchgate.net methods and techniques +"dry farming"

for dry farming with gapes:

site: researchgate.net methods and techniques +"dry farming" +"grapes"

You will have to do a bit of work to do the research for how to optimally dry farm in your area. Which is what, I assume, your hired vineyard management company should do before they start as well, as it seems they do not have experience in this either so will have to do their own homework, and your vineyard will be a bit of an experiment for them too, where they may be learning how to do it optimally.

That is, there is a lot of information out there, but it will need to be locally modified as needed.

Hope this helps.
 
Top