Water From Rock

This is a fairly typical bit of vineyard in Germany’s Mosel Valley. Yes, grapes root in this stuff. It’s a good thing there’s lots of rain and it doesn’t get ridiculously cold.


As the romans knew, it grows great white wine.

Lots of air, lots of water, and it only moves downhill a bit every year. Here are some riesling plants enjoying it…

See What I Mean about the Stuff Wanting to Move Downhill?

The romans dug horizontal trenches in this stuff, and subterranean tunnels, to collect water for their suburban villas down by the river. Drop by drop, the water collected in the shafts, trickled into the main supply, and then into the bath it went. In the town of Mehring, the system still works.

And now?

Scree Slope Planted to Vines

And what do we do in the Okanagan? Put our houses on the rocks and our grapes on flat land.

And you know what the romans might say about that? This?

An Old Riesling Vine Making a Living on the Rock

I think the only fibre in this soil comes from the grape plants themselves. Most of the oxygen in this shallow soil trickles down from the air above. The rest, which the grape roots need in order to breathe, trickles down the steep slopes from the forests above.

No. Nothing. They’re dead. It’s our turn to speak up. It might just be that the real, undiscovered grape areas of the Pacific Northwest are in all the side valleys, in tiny habitats where sun-drenched slopes are fed by forests, higher up, and not in the hot valley cores themselves. The wine might be cool, acidic, sharp, and complex, just like the wines of the Mosel, but surely that’s better than sweet pinot gris that tastes of mango and peaches. If investors are going to insist on hot valleys, then the appropriate habitat might just be at the baseline of scree slopes, or the baseline of alluvial hills, where organic water flows right now and right where hawthorns and wild roses thrive today. Highway ditches are perfect. It might just be that the best land for grapes is cheap or free or public or in people’s back yards. A rule to follow might be: if it needs artificial irrigation, it’s not the right spot for grapes.

2 replies »

  1. The bottle of Pallas wine we drank with dinner Sunday night had scree on the label as the simple background image. It looked very much like the “Shale” photo, above. The back label said the grapes are grown in sandy rock in Spain. Good stuff, too.


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