Climate & Soil
The vineyard grows mostly Tierra Loam soil which is moderately well drained and has low available water capacity and Chamise shaly loam which is well drained and has moderate available water capacity. The elevation starts at 325 feet and tops out at 470 feet above sea level.
Soil Descriptions per National Cooperative Soil Survey
The Tierra series consists of deep, moderately well drained soils with very slow permeability that formed in alluvial materials from sedimentary rocks (sandstone). Tierra soils are on dissected terraces and low hills and have slopes of 2 to 50 percent. The climate is subhumid mesothermal with cool moist winters and cool dry summers. The mean annual precipitation is 12 to 25 inches. Mean annual temperature is about 57 degrees to 59 degrees F., average January temperature is about 52 degrees F., and average July temperature is about 63 degrees F. The average frost-free season is 200 to 300 days.
The Chamise soils are clayey-skeletal mix moderately to steeply sloping and are on hills and dissected terraces at elevations of 100 to 1,500 feet. They formed in old alluvium containing considerable shale fragments derived from siliceous and ashy shale sources. The climate is subhumid mesothermal with warm dry summers and cool moist winters. Mean annual precipitation is 12 to 20 inches. Average July temperature is about 68 degrees F., average January temperature is about 48 degrees F; and mean annual temperature is 58 degrees to 60 degrees F. The freeze-free season is 240 to 300 days.
But there are other elements to climate beside temperature such as wind, precipitation, solar radiation, topography and humidity that impact the growth of plants. Here at Slide Hill, the topography with the steep hill sides and multiple aspects creates an ideal circumstance for soil erosion. Erosion creates great variation in soil activity and nutrient availability within even the same row of vines.
The best way to reduce erosion and rebuild the displaced topsoil is with living plants essentially covering the soil. Planting cover crops and reducing tillage are great ways to accomplish this. Meanwhile, living plants will naturally takes in carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to make carbohydrates during photosynthesis. Most plants will exude 30-70% of its carbohydrates out of its roots to feed the microbe in the ground. This is the start of the virtuous cycle of capturing carbon to feed an increasing bacterial and fungal population which increases the soils organic matter which further increases the soil’s water holding capacity which creates a resilient ecosystem.