Watering in Vineyards

June 7, 2023
2020 Summer Vines in Pamela’s Vineyard

Hi All,

Today, we’re talking to talk about a very interesting topic: watering. California is finally out of the majority of its drought after these last couple of wetter winter seasons. That being said, we’re needing less water to water our vines. 

So let’s dive into the topic of water seeing as it’s a huge importance in our vineyards. There are many styles and techniques of tending to vineyards. So let’s talk about them.

Dry Farming

Dry farming is a technique that requires the vineyards to source their water from deep within the ground. They do not have sprinkler systems or schedules to water. These vines get water by digging deep within the surface when it’s hot, and soaking up what they can when it rains.

This technique is most commonly practiced in places with older vines and semi-arid or arid places like the California Coast.  This technique is also practiced in areas that are subject to extreme drought and have grown vineyards resistant to drought like in Santorini or parts of arid Spain.

Certain wine varieties are better suited for dry farming. They must be robust grapes that can withstand the heat without water for long periods of time. This is why we see grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon or Zinfandel dry farmed.

Standard Irrigation

The black hose is a drip irrigation system attached to an underground water source.

On the other hand, standard irrigation is most common here in the US. This is when we water vineyards during the warm months to keep the vines nurtured and to help the grapes properly ripen. This is common in much of the drought ridden parts of California as well as Texas and other semi-arid states.

What does AJA do?

As with everything we do, AJA is quite minimal with our intervention. We listen to our vines and their needs. With the incredible rain we received and temperate weather, we have yet to turn on our water. Our vines are growing epically and are utilizing all of the water soaked into the soil during our dormant season.

During typically hotter seasons, we water our vines. Generally, our water runs once or twice weekly for a few hours from April through July and some of August. Our water system is called a “drip irrigation system.” This drip system allows for a minimal continual flow of water for a period of time to not shock the vineyards but gently pad the soil with extra moisture. This ensures that our vines are not over-watered.


Vines are much like humans in that they enjoy the same weather that we all do and thrive in such conditions…but they also thrive when put under a little stress. This is why we do our best to limit watering. This part is a balancing act. We only intervene as minimally as necessary. Our goal is to make wines that showcase the beauty from the Malibu Coast and do our best to make sure that with every vintage, easy or not, we bring to you a high quality wine.


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