This is part of a new series called Wine Words, a glossary in the works that breaks down the barrier between those in the wine know and those who have no idea what the hell everyone's talking about. A new word will post every Wednesday and will cover anything and everything from a grape name or region, to a winemaking or tasting term. If you have a recommendation or request, please leave it in the comments.
Dry-Farmed (n.) Vineyard Term
Also referred to as dryland viticulture, dry-farmed grapes are those grown in vineyards which utilize only natural rainfall, eschewing irrigation altogether. The term has become increasingly used on labels and other marketing materials, though it's not simply a selling point. In regions that have enough annual rainfall, vines have to rely on that natural water presence, and are forced to send their roots deeper in search of the water table below the vineyard's surface. The deeper a vine's roots go, the more nuance and complexity the wine can potentially gain, as each level of soil contains slightly different metals and nutrients. California is where we see dry-farmed grapes most often, if only because they let us know about it. Given the severe drought issues the state continues to battle, dry-farming, when possible, is both an economical and environmental boon to grape growers.