Mark Greenspan of Advanced Viticulture has written a grape growing column for Wine Business Monthly since 2005. And he's never missed one! In his January column, "Cabernet Sauvignon is Easy To Grow. Fine Cabernet is Not That Easy," he writes:
Able to produce richly colored wines, with decent acidity, soft tannin with some structure, and lack of veggie aromas and flavors, Central Valley Cabernet is a mainstay of the value wine segment. But what about the fine wine segment? Is it just as easy to grow Cabernet in the cooler, coastal regions as in the warm inland regions? In some ways, yes, but for wine producers trying to please their consumers, Cabernet can be quite challenging—perhaps more than most.
Mark goes on to cover climatic zones and touches briefly on clones. He discusses how to control the compounds that can contribute to unpleasant bell pepper characteristics in wine and writes about water and nutrition. From a moisture standpoint, he thinks Cabernet is "fun to work with," adding:
Cabernet can take some water stress and just laugh at it. At the same time, it really needs to have some water status.
But the most important times, in my opinion, to stress Cabernet are before and during veraison. It is that time where the ripening process kicks into gear, and elevation of stress hormones (primarily ABA) also has the benefit of inducing the ripening process. I do this to some extent for all red varieties, but have found Cabernet Sauvignon to be the most receptive to this practice and also the variety most in need of this practice.
I use soil moisture profile devices, the leaf porometer and pressure chamber to help determine the level of stress and make adjustments or delays to the irrigation applications in order to reach those stress goals.
Want to learn more about measuring the status of vine water status? Check out the following columns Mark has written: