UC DAVIS (CBS13) — As California continues to struggle with conserving water during the fourth year of its historic drought, researcher at UC Davis are looking at ways to keep the wine industry from reaching the end of the vine.
The viticulture and enology department is trying to mitigate drought damage by testing out new watering techniques without compromising grape quality.
It takes about four to six gallons of water to produce one gallon of wine, but researchers are trying to reduce that to a one-to-one ratio.
“It’s a matter of taking these existing technologies and putting them together in a way that nobody has really done before,” said researcher David Block.
He’s one of more than a dozen researchers at UC Davis looking to keep you raising a glass instead of inducing sour grapes during the drought.
“If you walk through a vineyard like this one, not every vine needs the same amount of water,” he said.
With a specialized system that includes using rainwater, the group is irrigating 640 vines, giving each one the exact amount of water it needs.
“It’s all wireless technology, so the goal is to be sitting somewhere remotely from the vineyard and control the amount of water each vine is getting depending on the amount of water it needs,” he said.
Clean in place technology allows automated cleaning of fermenting tanks, which researcher then reuse.
Researchers say their goal is to make their work operational in wineries across the state within the next five years.