The Deep Roots Coalition was founded largely on 2 principles.  First, we have a profound respect for the concept of terroir and therefore we want to make wines that are totally terroir-driven.  Second, we are committed to sustainable agriculture and as such we eschew the use of irrigation because this technique is in no way sustainable in the long-term.


The idea of terroir is that wine should reflect the “place” from which it emanates.  To that end, the concept of “place” includes soil composition and depth, degree and direction of slope, latitude, temperature regime and precipitation.  The criteria of precipitation include how much, when and the manner in which it occurs.  Obviously if one introduces irrigation to the equation, the all-important parameter of precipitation is eliminated and terroir no longer applies to the resulting wine.  This is why in France (as well as most of the other viticultural areas of Europe), when a winegrower introduces irrigation, the resulting wine is no longer allowed to claim an appellation.  We in the Deep Roots Coalition of course agree with this assessment.


The arid West and particularly the drought in California has made clear that irrigation is in most cases not a sustainable form of agriculture.  And with respect to grape vines, irrigation is unnecessary.  The island of Santorini in the Aegean receives no more than 10 inches of rain per year and yet has been producing beautiful wine for over 2000 years.  Similarly the parched landscape of the Douro region of Portugal and Spain produces world-reknown wine without irrigation. The imprint of the lack of precipitation in these places defines the wines.  And the vineyards, given their ancient history, are certainly the definition of sustainable.


Clearly irrigation is nonessential in the production of wine grapes.  It destroys the concept of terroir.  It results in high alcohol wines.  And it is not sustainable in the long term.  Hence the coming together of like-minded vignerons in the Willamette Valley of Oregon to form the Deep Roots Coalition.


Growing wine grapes without irrigation is less radical than you might think. France, Italy, Germany, and Spain have been dry farming for centuries.
— Hannah Wallace, Modern Farmer

What We Hope to Achieve

  • A wine world with more respect for the land
  • Farmers who currently irrigate will convert to dry farming
  • New vineyards will be established without irrigation
  • Educated and informed consumers
  • DRC members from all American Viticulture Areas