Other ways in which the art and science of winemaking weave their way into the Rule of Three wine equation exist in the vineyard. As we have mentioned before, weather impacts the wine throughout the growing season, and we hope to learn more about how it impacts our wine each and every year. We chose the Uco Valley in Mendoza for its proven grape growing potential due to the location, altitude and soil properties. By making some very specific choices with our agronomist and winemaker about how the vineyard was designed and the care taken to provide the best conditions for the vines and grapes as they mature, we maximize our chances of producing high quality grapes. There are no guarantees, of course, but here are the specifics behind the “controls” that have been built into the Rule of Three Tres Terrunos vineyard.
Row Orientation: We planted our rows with a north-south orientation to optimize sun exposure. Mendoza is situated at 33 degrees South latitude, which means solar rays come from the northeast during the morning, from the north at midday and from the northwest during the afternoon. Sun exposure has a direct influence on grape color and sugar development and, ultimately, the quality of the wine you will produce. Row orientation and canopy management go hand-in-hand to ensure the most effective vine and grape exposure.
Row Spacing: Traditionally, vineyards in Mendoza were planted with 10 ft (3 m) of spacing between rows. However, in our vineyard, we used narrower spacing resulting in more vines per hectare, fewer clusters per vine and grapes with higher flavor concentration. Our rows have approximately 6 ft (1.8 m) of space between them. This row spacing will optimize the number of vines per hectare with maximum sunlight potential, as well as allow for more efficient management and accessibility.
Vine Spacing: In our vineyard, vines are planted approximately 3 to 4 ft (91 to 120 cm) apart.
Irrigation: Irrigation takes on additional importance during the summer months as temperatures can reach 113 F/ 45 C. Our irrigation system works 24 hours a day during this time. The amount of water a vine receives controls its growth and vigor, and eventually the quality of the fruit it will produce. During the season, the vine needs an adequate amount of water (4-5 mm/day) to develop vine structure for vertical growth and to establish the root system. When we are irrigating at maximum capacity, it is referred to as high flow rate. We used a high flow rate from the beginning of the growing phase through February. Once the vines are in the ripening phase we concentrate on the quality of the grapes and reduce the amount of water to 2-3 mm/day. This water reduction will enhance color, and concentrate flavors and sugar via a controlled grape dehydration, process also known as water restriction. As mentioned above, this will balance the energy the vines direct toward the berries and leaves.