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California vineyards - height -

Fabienne

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I haven't been able to find a plausible explanation to this: why are Napa Valley vineyards so tall? When I was 8 years old in Burgundy, I could run between the rows of vignes and still see my cousins, when we played catch. The gigantic vineyards in Napa would certainly have provided more opportunity for hiding from them...

Anyhow, I know the climate is clement, no harsh winds, no storms to speak of (am I right?), so perhaps that plays into it, it's not so crucial to cut them low. Could it have to do with sheltering the grapes from the sun (thicker, taller canopy)?

It wouldn't be to keep animals from eating the grapes, would it? (higher--> out of reach)
 

drizzt3117

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Well, part of that could be the varietal, I think Pinot is grown a bit shorter than Cabernet Sauvignon, and Napa is primarily cab.
 

Fabienne

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I don't think that's the answer either. Look at the Bordeaux region.
 

kabert

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I don't think it has to do with the age of the vines, as both places have old vines. I have never heard anything regarding ground-based animals like squirrels being a problem (birds are another story). Perhaps having higher vines is an effort to get the grapes away from the heat-retaining soil? Perhaps it has to do with irrigation methods? Are you sure you weren't running through vineyards of young vines when you were 8?
 

Fabienne

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Napa's soil is not rocky, though (is it?), in which case it wouldn't retain heat in a significant manner.

Irrigation methods? I do remember seeing water pipes between the rows in some vineyards, but how would the height play into it?

I have been back to Burgundy since I was eight, and my impression is that they are generally cut low, perhaps a meter high at the most. Some of the vineyards I saw in Napa looked to be about half as much again or more.

I will be in Burgundy in a little over a month, and will investigate further.
 

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