My latest in Wine Industry Network Advisor:
Dowsers: Vintners Embrace the Ancient Art for Finding Water
Once deemed witchcraft, dowsing locates underground water sources via a guiding instrument, such as a willow branch, metal rods or pendulum.
By L.M. Archer
As climate change intensifies, many vineyards are turning to high-tech tools for water scarcity solutions. But a few rely on an old-school method to solve their water issues. Sometimes known as water divining, dowsing or water doodling, this ancient art draws its share of doubters. However, for vineyard owners in water-poor wine regions, dowsers can be the difference between life and death.
Water in Washington
“We’ve used a dowser for every well on the family property,” says Jeff Andrews of Andrews Family Vineyards and Trothe Wines in Prosser, Wash. In 1956, Andrews’ grandfather employed a dowser to locate the land’s first well site. That well transformed the Andrew’s family farm from a dusty sagebrush desert into a thriving wheat, food crop and cattle concern.
Eventually, grapes replaced cattle. Today, Andrews and his family cultivate 1,300 acres of winegrapes in the Horse Heaven Hills AVA. “My grandad used to say he wasn’t sure if he believed in well witching, but he’d never drill a well without it,” says the fourth-generation farmer.
In California, which has experienced a spate of dramatic droughts and wildfires, water has become more than just crop nourishment. Meanwhile, dwindling water supplies have led to an increase in governmental oversight of water use and well drilling.
“It’s cheaper to buy water from the government, by far, than it is to pump it out of the ground, particularly with our rates going up like they are these days,” says vineyard owner, winemaker and dowser Marc Mondavi. “They’re clamping down on water, and farmers are forced to either go out of business or drill some wells so that they have water to grow their crops.” READ MORE HERE.