If you recall, 4hearts is a dry farm vineyard. This means there is no source of irrigation other than the moisture stored in the ground. Why would one do this, you ask? First, it is unique as only 3% of wine grapes harvested in California are dry-farmed. Second, it is Steve's specialty. Not everyone knows how to effectively dry farm, but Steve has and does. Finally, the soil is really built for dry farming.
As you can see in the video, it looks dry. If you walk the vineyard, you get completely dusty. The good news is that the soil contains a significant amount of calcereous rock which is built to retain moisture. In Paso, the average rainfall is only 14.11" and that only happens in the winter months. Therefore, the soil has to be able to hold the moisture throughout the year, or the roots can't get enough water to make the vines grow.
You can also see that the vines are widely spaced. Technically, it's called a 10 x 10 diamond pattern. In layman's terms, it is 360 vines per acre. Some vineyards (those that use irrigation systems for watering throughout the year) have 2000+ vines per acre. With our farm being "dry," we need to give them space to grow. More importantly, the roots need sufficient space to get water and thus, can not be too packed together.
This style of vineyard is structured to produce a smaller crop per acre than more dense vineyards. However, each plant can be very productive while maintaining a very high degree of quality. Bottom line... smaller crops, higher quality.
As a result of dry farming, each year's has been quite different.
This is video of the farm in the summer of 2010 after our first harvest in September 2009. We did not know that Ally was recording so the commentary is quite hilarious. It even includes Steve telling one of his "stories." In addition to being a great farmer, Steve is also a Master Storyteller.