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930 Shiloh Road, Bldg. 44, Suite E
CA, 95492
United States
(707) 838-3805
(707) 780-6356
Mark Greenspan

Advanced Viticulture, Inc.

Full-Service Vineyard Company with a Committment to True Sustainablility
Advanced Viticulture, Inc. is a full-service vineyard management and winegrowing consulting company that operates from a standpoint of sustainability. From a philosophy of minimal inputs to the vineyard, we achieve environmental protection while allowing each sites uniqueness to be expressed in their wines. Reduction of pesticide, fertilizer and irrigation inputs allows the vineyard's characteristics to shine through to the wines.
Our management company is full-service. From site preparation to vineyard establishment and vineyard management, we have an attention to detail that results in first-rate vineyards.
Our consulting and technology company is full-service. We can be engaged for a brief diagnostic visit, a defined project or an ongoing advisory arrangement. Vineyard moisture, mineral nutrition and pest/disease monitoring programs are offered. Moisture monitoring, weather stations and automation technologies are offered through our company and we provide full support and are backed by our manufacturing partners. Projects and pricing structures can be tailored to match your goals and your budget.

Advanced Viticulture's principal viticulturist is Mark Greenspan, Ph.D.
Mark has over two decades of viticultural experience. His background includes a Masters degree in Horticulture/Viticulture and a Doctorate in Agricultural Engineering, both from the University of California, Davis. He is one of very few private practitioners who have been elected as an honorary member of Gamma Sigma Delta, the Agricultural Honor Society.
He is regarded as one of the worlds leading experts in winegrape irrigation and has written scientific and trade journal articles on the subject. In addition to his command of grapevine irrigation practices, he has extensive experience in vineyard mineral nutrition, crop load management, vineyard uniformity, grape maturation, weather, climate and viticultural technologies. Mark holds certifications from the American Society of Agronomy as Certified Professional Agronomist (CPAg) and Certified Crop Advisor (CCA). He is also a licensed pest control advisor (PCA) in California (#131135).
With a background in electronics engineering, coupled with mastery in viticulture, Mark is uniquely equipped to support the implementation of technology in the vineyard and does so through numerous corporate partnerships.
He has frequently delivered presentations on numerous topics to his colleagues in the wine industry at venues ranging from small classrooms and vineyard tailgate meetings to large industry-wide symposia.
Mark is a regular contributor to wine industry publications, including Practical Winery and Vineyard andWine Business Monthly. He has been contributing a monthly column on viticulture for Wine Business Monthly since 2005.

Viticultural Advisory and Management Services

Advanced Viticulture, Inc. may be engaged for specific, short-term project work, general, longer-term advisory services, or anything in-between.

Irrigation/ Water Management

  • Soil and vine water status monitoring
  • personal, specific and timely guidance from viticulturalists
  • Technology for moisture monitoring
  • Technology for irrigation automation

Vineyard Management & Development: 

  • Full-service vineyard management or custom operations
  • Vineyard design- modern, high-end vineyards
  • Vineyard instillations- modern, high-end vineyards
  • Crop and canopy management
  • Soil remediation
  • Erosion control specialists

Vineyard Technologies: 

  • SISTM soil mapping and interpretation for new new and established vineyards
  • Soil moisture monitoring systems- we can help you save water and improve quality
  • Vine water status monitoring equiptment 
  • Weather stations
  • Automated irrigation control
  • Aerial imagery

Soil Management: 

  • SISTM soil mapping and interpretation for new and established vineyards
  • Soil sampling (auger and pits) and mapping for new and established vineyards
  • Vineyard diagnostics and correction
  • Soil remediation and correction

Mineral Nutrition Management: 

  • Soil and tissue sampling, testing and evaluation
  • Personal, specific and timely guidance from viticulturalists on fertilization and soil amendments

General Viticulture: 

  • Vine pruning, training and reconfiguration
  • Crop and canopy management 
  • Maturity assessment and harvest scheduling 
  • Viticultural climate evaluation
  • Vineyard diagnostics and correction 
  • Vineyard development consultation- Design and planning from the ground-up
  • Vineyard quality improvement 
  • Vineyard productivity improvement


















Mark Greenspan examining and discussing rooting patterns at the Sonoma County Water Agency's water conservation demonstration project field day in 2009.
Decagon Leaf Porometer, used for measuring plant water status. Advanced Viticulture, LLC is a distributor for MorpH2O Water Management, the commercial outlet for Decagon products, including the ECH2O soil moisture measurement devices.
New Advanced Viticulture soil moisture data node. Nodes are self-contained and deliver data via a cellular connetion to the internet. Other sensors may be added to the system to form a weather station, if desired.
Aquacheck multi-level soil moisture probe. These may be connected to the Advanced Viticulture cellular data node for instant live measurements of soil moisture for precise irrigation scheduling.
Mark Greenspan with a soil moisture cellular node. Nodes are self-contained, solar-powered and may be connected to one or more soil moisture sensors as well as other weather sensors.
Advanced Viticulture Consulting
Advanced Viticulture Consulting
Insightful & Innovative Winegrowing consultation services.
Russian River Basin Vineyard Water Conservation De
Russian River Basin Vineyard Water Conservation De
Learn about project director Mark Greenspan, Ph.D.'s vineyard water conservation project for the Russian River region.
Water Conservation and Vineyard Irrigation: Monito
Water Conservation and Vineyard Irrigation: Monito
onoma County grape growers have been actively conserving water resources for many years. This video is meant to further educate growers on the different options to monitor the water needs and stress levels of the vine. Briefly discussed are visual indicators, moisture monitoring technology and the weather service tools provided to all Sonoma County and District 3 growers. Educator/Narrator: Mark Greenspan Ph.D., CCA, CPAg, of Advanced Viticulture, Inc. Length: 9:02 minutes.
Retro-ripping of Carneros Vineyard
Retro-ripping of Carneros Vineyard
Using a winged-tine shank, this vineyard was ripped to break up wheel-track compaction.
Fall seed bed prep and cover crop seeding
Fall seed bed prep and cover crop seeding
Using a Clemens soil conditioner (tiller) and seed drill, we prepare a vineyard for the winter. We will do custom work upon request.

News Archive

The Climate Is Changing, Whether We Like It or Not
16 July, 2020

What it means to winegrapes and what we can do about it

I'm not an expert in climatology, and I’ll bet most of you are not either. That is why I listen to experts on the subject of climate change. I concluded, long ago, that not only is it real, but humankind has played a large part in the most recent and dramatic changes in weather patterns and weather-related events. I’d like to avoid politics in this viticulture column, but I find it painful to hear that deniers are still out there. Sure, there are some scientists that deny anthropogenic causes for climate change, but they represent only a tiny minority of scientists who have seen enough evidence supporting man-made climate change. In fact, many of the scientists being touted by climate change deniers are not climate scientists at all—some are not true scientists at all.

What struck me and made me a believer many years ago, was the dramatic spike in atmospheric CO2 concentration over the last several decades relative to levels in the distant past. According to a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) graphic,1 over hundreds of thousands of years CO2 levels fluctuated between 200 and 280 ppm, based on data collected from ancient ice cores. In 1950, CO2 spiked to more than 300 ppm and continued to rise to its current level of over 400 ppm. So don’t tell me that humankind isn’t, at least in part, the cause of an extreme and rapid rise in CO2 unlike any other in the last 800,000 years or so.

CO2 isn’t the only greenhouse gas (GHG). According to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) graphics,2 methane levels fluctuated about a mean of 500 ppm over that same time span and have spiked in recent decades to about 1,800 ppm. Nitrous oxide, a persistent and strong greenhouse gas, fluctuated above and below a mean of about 250 ppm over that long stretch of time and has risen to about 330 ppm in the present time.

Yes, humans have created these changes, and one does not need to be a climatologist to understand that the burning of fossil fuels by an ever-in-creasing population has caused this change. It both surprises me and sickens me that there are still people who buy into the propaganda that these are normal phenomena we are witnessing. But I said I wouldn’t get political…

What is Changing and What Does it Mean When Growing Winegrapes

I attended the Sustainable Ag Expo in November 2019 and listened to two speakers on the topic of climate change. Tapan Pathak, an extension specialist researcher at UC Merced, is a specialist in climate adaptation in agriculture. He stated that while temperatures are rising, the maximum daily temperatures are rising only modestly while the nighttime minimum temperatures are rising at a higher rate over time. A paper in which Pathak was lead author3 showed that an 11-year running average of California temperatures has risen above the long-term average by about 1° F since 1980, but the recent decade saw deviations from the mean up to and over 2° F. If you think that only 2 degrees doesn’t mean much, think again. Over the growing season, that level of increase kicks a region up a whole notch in the Winkler classification.

Warmer night temperatures will have an effect on fruit maturation that is distinct from daytime temperatures, so the phenomenon of rising temperature minima should not be taken casually. Photosynthesis occurs only during daylight hours for the grapevine, but vine and berry metabolism continues to take place during the night. Berry metabolism uses malic acid as its primary source of energy, so warmer night temperatures should stimulate a more rapid degradation of malic acid, leading to fruit with lower acid concentration at harvest. On the other hand, secondary metabolite production could potentially increase as well, which could have the effect of a faster phenolic maturation rate under warmer night conditions. Hence, higher night temperatures could be detrimental to warmer regions while having a potential benefit to growers in the coolest of regions. That benefit could be swamped out in the bigger picture, however, as growing seasons could be shortened both by temperature increases and more dramatically changing weather conditions during the growing season.

Gregory Jones, professor and director of the Evenstad Center for Wine Education at Linfield College in the Willamette Valley, Ore., spoke at the Expo and stated that a 1° F increase in average temperature would shorten the season from budbreak to harvest by between five and 15 days. That means that fruit may get riper sooner and, as a result, could ripen during the warmer summer months, further amplifying the wine quality issues associated with a warmer environment.

Jones cautioned that increases in temperature would likely be accompanied by increases in humidity, and, therefore, disease pressure could be on the rise. Has anyone noticed that recently? I know that powdery mildew incidence and severity seem to be increasing almost every year, and I also have noticed higher humidity affecting stomatal conductance (higher humidity leads to higher stomatal conductance). Apparently, climate change has not led to overall increases in precipitation but has led to, and will continue to lead to, more dramatic weather events in the form of not only severe storms, but also intense cold, extreme heat and increased occurrence of drought. Although temperatures are rising globally, we don’t talk much anymore in the vernacular of “global warming.” Warming is certainly occurring, but it is the dramatic events occurring worldwide that are of greater environmental and societal impact. Hurricanes, fires, floods and other catastrophic events are beyond the scope of this discussion, but variable weather conditions are certainly impactful on wine growing.

Changes in weather from year to year are to be expected as a natural part of our wine-growing world and are often viewed as the primary influence of vintage quality. But as climate change intensifies, the variability from year to year increases, causing larger and larger deviations from the mean and potentially creating more and more poor vintages due to extremely cool weather or extremely hot weather. One does not have to look very far back to recall the 2017 growing season (very hot) followed by 2018 (very cool). The 2017 North Coast fires notwithstanding, 2017 was a difficult growing season that featured sluggish and stopped ripening due to sharp changes in temperature. Yes, weather varies, and much seasonal variability is simply natural changes in weather, but we will likely face greater variability as time goes on and climate changes worsen.

What Should We Do as Growers?

As climates warm and region II’s get transformed into region IIIs (and so on), varieties that have performed well historically may not be ideal any longer. Jones said he is seeing that in the Willamette Valley, though they have some time to go before Pinot Noir doesn’t work there. But, outside of the U.S., wine-growing regions in Europe and just northward into Canada have experienced such changes in climate as to consider varietal changes. For the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia, that means that Bordeaux varieties may be grown successfully in its southern reaches. That may be a welcome occurrence for them, though I know that there are very few who are actually excited about the prospects of climate change. Although research is ongoing to find alternative varieties for existing wine regions, how can Napa not be known for Cabernet Sauvignon? And who would want to see a Russian River Bordeaux blend? Regions have developed identities, and a change in climate that upsets that identity could be a marketing nightmare and a real disruption to our industry—an industry that maintains deep ties to history and tradition. That said, it may be inevitable that some varietal changes be made, at least in the warmer parts of each region. In cooler parts of each region, warmer-climate varieties will likely begin their intrusion into formerly cooler-climate vineyards.

More subtle vineyard changes can be considered, especially in the cooler parts of each region that are not yet ready for varietal change. Trellis systems that provide more shade on fruit will likely become more popular, bucking the longer-term trend of strictly upright VSP trellises. Cross-arms to widen out those tight VSPs have been showing up more and more, though the benefit of widening the trellis has little effect on fruit shading unless row orientation is such that fruit becomes shaded during the hot, late-afternoon sun. Hence, vineyard design for new vineyards is as important now as ever—and likely more important. For existing vineyards, leaf removal practices may need to change, though the trend towards lighter leaf removal could potentially backfire into causing higher disease incidence. Plastic mesh shade cloth that covers the fruit zones from hot afternoon sun is becoming more common, and it seems that a black shade cloth, which provides about 30 to 35 percent shade works well in most cases over other colors and densities.

Irrigation management cannot be done by calendar or in the same manner every year. Rainfall patterns, especially spring rainfall in the North Coast, will dictate when irrigation needs to be started. Growers must look at weather forecasts to apply preemptive irrigations to avoid vine stress during heat waves. This is not that different than it ever was before, only it is more imperative than ever that growers stay on top of irrigation management and not follow the same pattern each and every year.

What Can Growers Do to Stop Climate Change

We can’t stop climate change; we can only slow it down. It will take dramatic shifts in our behavior and our reliance on fossil fuels to stem the tide. As individuals, the answer would be to initiate behavioral changes on a personal level, but that is of infinitesimal impact if not done broadly by the whole populace, not only by our country but by all countries, including those that are heavier contributors to GHGs than the U.S. So, yes, the answer is political, and it’s not an ideological one necessarily (though it seems to be right now). There are members of all political parties who support changes to reduce GHGs, and they must be supported; they, in turn must support changes worldwide, including those bad actor countries that continue to emit GHGs at a higher rate than our own.

As for growers, our impact is slightly more influential than that of an individual outside the world of agriculture. We burn diesel to farm, burn vines and trees when they are removed for replanting, and we till the soil. All of these contribute GHGs to our environment and in a much bigger way than the average Joe.

I don’t see us getting away from diesel tractors anytime soon. The amount of horsepower required for farming is high, and currently only diesel engines provide sufficient energy to run our implements. While the newer tiers of diesel engines are cleaner burning than they used to be, reducing particulates, carbon monoxide and oxides of nitrogen, they still spew about as much GHG as they used to; it’s just that some of the other side-effects have been mitigated. I have yet to see an electric tractor in action, but they are on the way. About 10 years ago we would have scoffed at an electric car, but look at what we have now. Electric pickup trucks are on the way, and aside from the satisfying rumble of a full-size pickup truck, they will eventually be able to get the job done.

On the other side of the equation, vineyards sequester carbon, which is something we do that provides a benefit to the environment. Carbon is sequestered in the vines themselves but is also found in the soils where cover crops grow and decompose, leaving carbon skeletons that persist for long periods of time. The actual amount of carbon sequestered is now being studied in detail, and it is a meaningful amount. But we can quickly undo that benefit if we burn our vines after we tear them out for replanting. All of the carbon in the biomass of the permanent vine structure is released back into the atmosphere when vines are burned. Chipping is an alternative that avoids this rapid carbon release. It is considerably more expensive than burning, since wires and other hardware need to be separated from the vines instead of simply pushing them into a pile and burning. But its benefits should not be overlooked for sustainable, carbon-neutral winegrowing.

Perhaps even more detrimental than vine burning is tillage. Yes, good old tillage. While it seems logical to till a cover crop under to allow it to break down in the soil, tillage actually introduces a large slug of carbon into the soil that is rapidly decomposed, compared to the same vegetation in a no-till condition. Tillage destroys the soil structure and microbial ecosystem; it not only leads to a rapid release of CO2 into the atmosphere, but also causes a large release of nitrous oxide. Nitrous oxide is a more detrimental GHG than CO2. Reducing or eliminating tillage from our vineyards could go a long way towards improving carbon sequestration and GHG reduction.

While we represent only a small fraction of agriculture worldwide, winegrape growers are dedicated to sustainability, and we can and should set examples for all of our agricultural brethren. True sustainability extends past one’s own farm.

Check out Mark's full article in the April issue of Wine Business Monthly.

July Soil Moisture Update
08 July, 2020

The season is moving along quickly. Here in the north coast, we are at the critical stage of berry development where water status of the vines is of utmost importance. Lag phase through veraison is the period that can make or break vintage quality. This season has featured a dry spring weather pattern, which has led us to irrigate many vineyards sooner than normal.

Take a look at the chart below for a Pinot Noir vineyard in Green Valley AVA. The red line is last year's average soil moisture for the root zone while the blue line is the current year's. We're at a much lower soil water content than last year and are about to irrigate while this same vineyard got its first irrigation about one month later. 

Knowing your soil moisture from the beginning to the end of the growing season (not to mention the dormant season) provides insight that you don't have via your eyes or by plant-based sensing.

Our services include installation and support of the soil moisture sensors. Once installed, we are happy to guide you on how to view the soil moisture data and make calculated decisions on irrigation.

For those wanting more assistance, AV offers an advisory package for growers looking for expert analysis and easy-to-follow irrigation recommendations based on your real-time soil moisture and plant stress data. It's the midpoint of the growing season, but its not too late to try out soil moisture technology.

Email or call us at (707) 838-3805 for more information on our soil moisture probes, other technology and any site specific questions you may have. 


Vineyard Mechanization: Economics and Reality
17 June, 2020

Everyone associated with the wine industry knows that labor has become more expensive, and it seems that wages are accelerating upward. The pool of largely unskilled or untrained labor is drying up, while those who remain available want more money for their work—and are getting it. Hence, there is absolutely no doubt that vineyards will increasingly adopt mechanical means to replace operations traditionally done by hand. Fortunately, necessity drives invention and innovation, and there are better versions of vineyard machines available all the time. Buying this equipment requires a significant cash investment, so growers will be willing to do so only when the return on the investment makes good business sense. But it is a little more complicated than simply substituting a machine for a human, especially in the fine-wine production sector. We have convinced ourselves that hand-farming is better than machine-farming, and wineries and winemakers are often reluctant to yield to the growing need for mechanization. In some cases, this is justified, but in others, it’s not.

In June 2019, the Oregon Wine Research Institute (OWRI) hosted a webinar featuring Clark Seavert, professor of applied economics at Oregon State University. Seavert conducted a study on the economic benefits of replacing farm labor with mechanical methods. He did his studies on real vineyards, with real equipment and with real numbers, using Pacific Northwest regional vineyards. His labor rates seemed a bit higher than ours in California, but not all that different; he also seemed to use reasonable assumptions of future overhead costs and wage projections. Of course he did—he’s an economist. Though he targeted Oregon and Washington vineyards for his study, I found his study to be well thought-out, and his results can readily be applied to vineyards in California.

One thing I appreciated is that he used four different vineyard size scales: 20- and 40-acre vineyards in Oregon and 100- and 500-acre vineyards in Washington. For all but the 500-acre vineyard, the study had the participating grower purchase add-ons to be used with existing tractors, including a harvester. For the 500-acre vineyard, however, a harvester was purchased from Pellenc Americas, Inc. for harvest and some of the other mechanical operations. The results are quite detailed, and so I will not cover each and every outcome here. I urge you to take a half-hour of your time and view the webinar that is available online.


Cane-pruning was looked at for the two Oregon vineyards, as it is a common practice in northwestern Oregon. Seavert found that pre-pruning machines did not present a savings over hand work for cane-pruning. I might suggest that this is because cane-pruning using a pre-pruning machine is not really machine pre-pruning. Rather, hand-pruners must go through and make the main cuts to the vines, and the pre-pruner serves as no more than a brush puller and chipper. While pulling brush is slow, the fact that cane-pruned vines cannot be truly pre-pruned results in no savings. It actually ends up being more costly than traditional methods.

On the other hand, pre-pruning is quite possible and feasible with cordon-trained, spur-pruned vineyards. Trimming canes to long spurs is rather easy to do and has the added benefit of making the final pruning pass using hand labor quick and, therefore, inexpensive. The late pruning has been shown to reduce susceptibility to trunk fungal pathogen infections. There was a small benefit to even the 20-acre vineyard, with a savings of about $140 per acre, per year. There was a 10.9-year payback on the equipment for this small vineyard, which casts doubt on its benefit. However, jumping to only a 40 acre vineyard reduced the payback on the equipment purchase to just 3.7 years. Of course, pre-pruning larger vineyards makes even more sense, with payback periods on the equipment at one year and a cost saving on the order of $400 per acre, per year.

There is really no downside to pre-pruning spur-pruned vineyards because there is absolutely no downside to wine quality, and there is a disease management benefit. It’s not a slam-dunk, however, in wet climates like northwest Oregon or California’s North Coast. Climates like these have wet conditions in late fall and winter, so getting a tractor, especially a wheel tractor, into many vineyards can be difficult, if not detrimental, to the vineyard. This can sometimes be remedied with crawler tractors, but driving any tractor in wet conditions and clay-based soils might nevertheless be inadvisable. On the other hand, drier climates, like those found in eastern Washington, southern and eastern Oregon, as well as the Central Coast and Central Valley of California, are perfectly amenable for pre-pruning.

Suckering and Shoot-Thinning

These two practices were grouped together in the study, but they are quite different practices. Suckering is relatively mindless and requires the removal of trunk, crown and head suckers. This often requires no more than a gloved hand wiping off the suckers, so its mechanization can be done easily with nylon brushes. Cordon-suckering is more demanding, as one must discern suckers from desired shoots. Likewise, shoot thinning, or removal of the undesired shoots (not necessarily suckers), requires skill that is difficult to replicate by machine. Current suckering machines consist of flexible paddles that brush off shoots at intervals, depending on the rotational speed of the paddle rotor, as well as the translational speed of the  tractor they are mounted on. Those suckering tools are fine for fully mechanized vineyards, or at least those that have been fully machine-pruned. But hand-pruned vineyards are unlikely to adopt the mechanical suckering implement anytime soon.

In fact, suckering and shoot thinning provided the least attractive payback of all those studied. Seavert found a 25-year payback on suckering/shoot thinning for a 20-acre vineyard and a 6.2-year payback for a 40-acre vineyard and for a 100-acre vineyard. The payback interval was less than a year for the 500-acre vineyard, though the costs saved were modest—mainly because the larger vineyards do not typically shoot-thin their vineyards. Personally, I see a reasonable attraction to machine-suckering, as it is relatively easy to do, and the machines are inexpensive.

Shoot thinning is a painstaking process requiring great skill. For high-end vineyards, I don’t see a rush into mechanical shoot thinning, and the study shows that this category is only of marginal benefit anyway. That said, there will be a point when skilled labor is so expensive that even shoot thinning may be adopted by high-end vineyards. I just don’t see that happening in the foreseeable future.

Leaf Pulling 

Here is a practice that could make a lot of sense to mechanize, even though our thoughts about leaf removal shifts from year to year. We shudder at the thought of fully exposed fruit on a scorching hot day or during an excessively warm growing season, but we shudder just as hard when our fruit becomes infested with mildew due to insufficient light getting into the fruit zone. A lot of us are moving to very selective leaf removal now, removing only modest amounts of leaves and laterals, sometimes leaving “umbrellas” over the fruit or “tunneling” out leaves from the interior of the canopy. While leaf removal machines are continually improving, most cannot produce the finessed leaf removal that we require in some of our vineyards. But most vineyards are not farmed with such finesse, and mechanical leaf removal provides an excellent replacement for hand labor. New machines can produce a fruit zone that looks almost identical to a hand-pulled job, with little leaf residue and minimal damage to berries.

Seavert found good savings enjoyed by mechanical leaf removal. Even for small vineyards, the savings ranged between $250 and $275 per acre, per year. Payback interval on the machines was between three and five years, with smaller intervals for the larger vineyards. But for the 100-acre vineyard, the payback was reduced to only 1.5 years and for the 500-acre vineyard only 0.3 years. For those Washington vineyards, the savings was smaller, at about $200 per acre, per year—but still seemingly worthwhile.

Aside from its more brute-force leaf removal, mechanical leaf removal provides the benefit of getting the job done in a timely manner. As leaf removal is usually conducted during the time of year when shoot thinning and other canopy management is also in high gear, oftentimes labor is in temporarily short supply. Delaying leaf removal can result in disease, high pyrazine levels and poor light- and heat-acclimated fruit, so the benefits of mechanical leaf pulling may be greater than the labor savings alone.


The mechanization first widely adopted by high-end growers and wineries, mechanical harvesting is no longer only for production growers. Seavert’s study found the greatest savings in mechanical harvesting, which is not a surprise to me. For even the smallest vineyard there was a savings of about $775 per acre, per year, and as much as about $1,300 per acre, per year for the second-smallest vineyard studied. Payback on the machinery was a long 13.5 years for the 20-acre vineyard but only four years for the 40-acre vineyard, and just under two years for the 100-acre vineyard. The largest vineyard, the 500-acre vineyard, saw paybeck in less than one year, even for the larger, over-the-row Pellenc machine it utilized. A savings between $1,100 and $1,200 per acre per year was realized for the larger vineyards, which is nothing to sneeze at.

We still find some winemakers resist machine harvesting. While I can understand their reluctance to mechanically harvest varieties, like Pinot Noir, Zinfandel and Chardonnay, why there is reluctance to machine-pick Bordeaux varieties boggles my mind.

Those varieties pick well without extensive juicing and skin breakdown, and destemming them in the vineyard provides one less source of vegginess to the wines. There is no doubt that more wineries and winemakers (as well as growers) will get on board with machine-harvesting and will plan vineyards with that in mind from the beginning.

Overall, Seavert found a 1.5 year payback on the machines purchased for the vineyards under study that were 100 acres or less. For the 500-acre vineyard, the payback period was less than one year. I find that to be astounding and compelling and a motivation to acquire some or all of these tools. While the slightly lower labor costs in California would make these numbers a little less attractive, they’re not that far off as to change the decisions.

They have put together an online tool at Their tool is intended to aid growers in determining if some of these mechanization practices should be adopted into their own operations by plugging their own numbers into the economic model. I suggest taking a look at it. 

Check out Mark's full article in the March issue of Wine Business Monthly

Monitoring Soil Moisture
12 May, 2020

It's mid-May... and the North Coast is getting rained upon. Forecasts are showing showers for seven of the next ten days here at our home base in Windsor, CA. That's more rain than we expected, for sure. 

It's great to check the rain gauge and see some site specific precipitation data. But that only tells half of the story. 

Each site is unique. How much of your soil profile was affected by the recent rain is unknown unless you have devices in the soil to measure it.

Leave guess to the past. We want you prepared for this season and the seasons to come. So, through the end of May, AV is offering promotional pricing on select soil moisture sensor devices we install and support.

Soil Moisture Probes

Both Aquacheck and Sentek capacitance probes measure soil moisture and soil temperature at six and twelve depths respectively. These probes are connected to telemetry and send you real-time data to your smartphone and computer.

With proper protection, these sensors stay in the ground and last for years. We have probes over a decade old-still reporting consistently!

Use this promotion as an investment for years to come. Email or call us at (707) 838-3805 to learn more about the probes we support and the telemetry equipment that we pair them to.

Serving the North Coast

Advanced Viticulture's Birthday Part II
05 May, 2020

Advanced Viticulture will be celebrating it’s 15th year in business on May 1 of this year. As for most businesses large and small, it started humbly and on a shoestring. Since it’s inception, our business has grown in its services and in its staff. We’re proud of what we’ve been, what we are and what we will become.

One thing is for sure: we will continue to be personally humble but intensely proud of our work.

During this difficult time, we feel fortunate and grateful to be an essential business and are allowed to continue our work, with protections in place to protect our personnel and our customers. Please don’t hesitate to contact us for new technology projects, new consultations, and new management services. And please stay safe and healthy.

We’d like to take this time to introduce you to the leaders in our company. Today we will continue with Mark Alvarez, Vineyard Operations Supervisor and Loni Lyttle, Viticulturist.

Mark Alvarez, Vineyard Operations Supervisor

Mark Alvarez

Mark was born and raised in Sonoma County. After graduating from Geyserville High School, he pursued a passion for agriculture and never looked back. Mark has been involved in vineyard and agriculture for the past 17 years as a vineyard supervisor and safety officer. Developing safety programs and managing vineyards and staff for such companies as Clos Du Bois, Buena Vista, Redwood Empire Vineyard Management and now currently Advanced Viticulture. “I’m lucky to do something I love to do and to work with people that I not only respect and admire but care about on a daily basis. That is what makes this company great: we are not only a team but a family.”

Mark exhibits all of the qualities we prize in our company. His meticulous attention to detail, his expertise at dealing with his employees in all situations, his coordination of training and enforcement of safe practices have greatly enhanced our vineyard management business. We are so fortunate to have Mark on the team.

Loni Lyttle, MS, Viticulturist

Loni Lyttle

A native of Point Reyes Station in Marin County, Loni grew up eating good cheese and making jokes about her mother’s love of California Chardonnay. She attained a B.A. in Economics from Smith College in 2010. Though originally intent on going into banking, she opted to travel the world after graduation and soon found her calling in Piedmont, Italy, harvesting grapes and making wine with the locals. Loni worked as vineyard worker and English teacher while attending the University of Turin, graduating in 2014 with a second bachelors in Viticulture and Enology. She was hired as an Assistant Vineyard Manager for Ceretto Winery and began simultaneously working on her Masters in Viticulture and Enology at the University of Turin, finishing in 2018. She started with AV in 2019.
Loni brings an intense passion for viticulture and fine wine production to our company, a foundation in science with a holistic approach that is a perfect complement other aspects of our company. We are blessed by Loni’s participation in client consultations and expert recommendations in addition to her support of our technology offerings.

Happy Birthday to Advanced Viticulture!
28 April, 2020

Advanced Viticulture will be celebrating its 15th year in business on May 1 of this year. As for most businesses large and small, it started humbly and on a shoestring. Since it’s inception, our business has grown in its services and in its staff. We’re proud of what we’ve been, what we are and what we will become.

One thing is for sure: we will continue to be personally humble but intensely proud of our work.

During this difficult time, we feel fortunate and grateful to be an essential business and are allowed to continue our work, with protections in place to protect our personnel and our customers. Please don’t hesitate to contact us for new technology projects, new consultations, and new management services. And please stay safe and healthy.

We’d like to take this time to introduce you to the leaders in our company. Today we will start with Juan Maya, Vineyard Development Supervisor and Paul Sharp, Technology and Sales Manager.

Juan Maya, Vineyard Development Supervisor

Juan has worked in agriculture since 1996 and in vineyard management for most of that period, specifically across Napa, Sonoma, Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties. Through his years of experience in different wine growing regions and an inquisitive nature, Juan has been able to develop and refine practices that have met the varying needs of different clients. As vineyard supervisor, working in both the installation and management of vineyards for AV, he is able to apply the techniques and skills he developed during his career to meet the sophisticated needs of vineyards in the North Coast wine growing regions.

Juan is a blessing to AV. Juan exhibits all aspects of what we strive to be as a company. He’s a craftsman, an engineer by default, a leader and a hard worker to say the least. He makes everyone in our company look good and we constantly get compliments about his work, especially on the vineyards he develops with precision and care. He’s also a really nice guy.

Paul Sharp, Sales and Technology Manager

Paul Sharp is a passionate, results-driven professional who radiates a positive attitude within our company and to our clients. His aspirations for success were cultivated in the CSU Chico Business College. There he earned a BS in Business Administration with a focus in Marketing. Paul’s education broadened when he pursued the sustainability pathway at Chico State. Minimizing our ecological footprint and conserving natural resources were two areas of focus. Now he furthers this passion by supporting vineyard sensing technology that reduces natural resource consumption and automation technology that allows for precision application of water while warning clients of system failures that require attention. 

Paul has brought fresh energy to our company. He’s extremely friendly, patient and understanding with our customers. He’s also as tireless in his business development activities as he is installing soil moisture monitoring technology in our vineyards. And he’s the resident master of our technology products. We hope you will meet Paul someday soon.

Advanced Viticulture Quarantine Update
01 April, 2020

We wish you all good health and hope things are running as smooth as possible in this interesting time.  

Our personal lives have changed a bit since our last update, but AV Consulting and Vineyard Management are staying strong and are open for business.

We are thankful for the opportunity to stay fully open for business through the mandatory quarantine. Our team continues to work in the vineyard following the necessary safety protocols to substantially reduce risk of spreading virus. 

Vineyard Technology: Whether it's adding sensors to an existing site, or installing a new vineyard monitoring/control system- we are ready to bring you the tools for success as we start the season. Weather stations, soil probes, irrigation system monitoring and automation-you name it. We can make quotes with our without a site visit, but if we visit your site, we will maintain proper social distances. Likewise, with installations, we will be working along or with adequate separation.

Moisture monitoring services: We will be providing our moisture monitoring services as always. If you are an existing customer, we'll be operating as we always do. For anyone interested in finding out about our moisture monitoring and irrigation consultation services, we'd be happy to discuss that with you. No two seasons are the same and the low rainfall totals we've received thus far could change how we "normally" approach irrigation.

Contact or call at us (707) 838-3805. 

Advanced Viticulture Is at Your Service
17 March, 2020

We at AV wish everyone good health as we come together - or rather spread out - to minimize the effects of COVID-19. 

As of right now, Monday the 16th, Sonoma County does not fall under the Bay Area's "Shelter in Place" act. AV will continue to provide services to the North Coast as we get ready for the season. 

We work outside in small groups and observe protocol of minimizing risk of virus transmission. We will continue installing and servicing weather stations, frost monitoring systems, soil probes, etc. 

Serving the North Coast

Dry Winter: Soils Vary in Water Holding Capacity - Should You Irrigate Now?
21 February, 2020

Much of California, and certainly the north coast, have been in a dry weather pattern recently. We haven't received substantial rainfall in about a month and weather has been unseasonably warm. This pattern is not uncommon, but it is always disconcerting. We in the north coast rarely think about irrigating during the winter because rainfall is plentiful. And while many of our soils can hold onto water during dry spells, some have limited ability to do so. It is those soils we need to be concerned with during dry periods like these. Even though vines are not transpiring while they are dormant, cover crops and weeds to extract moisture from the soil and vines need to remain hydrated even through the winter time. Drying tissues in dormant vines can cause bud necrosis, loss of fruitfulness, potentially elevated cold susceptibility and uneven budbreak.

The charts above show average profile soil water content (relative scale) for two different vineyard blocks over the recent 120 days. The upper chart shows that rainfall has filled the profile and, while moisture is declining, there is plenty remaining and the depletion of moisture is very slow. In the lower chart, rainfall is seen as spikes in soil moisture, but the water content does not rise very high. While moisture depletion is slow, the profile is fairly dry in the upper 32" (data not shown) and the block may very well benefit from an irrigation or two until a wet weather pattern returns.

Here's the kicker: these two vineyard blocks are on the same property, are mapped to the same soil series and are only about 1400 feet away from each other. But the soils are quite different and their water needs to be managed quite differently. The upper chart is from a level block and the lower chart is from a hillside block on rocky, shallow soil.

How do you manage your soil moisture year-round, let alone during the growing season if you don't know what is happening in real-time? The answer is you don't unless you have this information at your fingertips at all times and during all seasons. We can provide this to you with soil moisture probes, like the one shown below, connected in real-time and year-round via automated telemetry. System options and pricing have improved recently and we can offer this capability to you at surprisingly low cost.

Our services include installation and support of the soil moisture sensors. Once installed, we are happy to guide you on how to view the soil moisture data and make calculated decisions on irrigation.For those wanting more assistance, AV offers an advisory package for folks looking for expert analysis and easy-to-follow irrigation recommendations based on your real-time soil moisture and plant stress data.

Email or call us at (707) 838-3805 for more information on our soil moisture probes, other technology and any site specific questions you may have.

Winter Discounts on Vineyard Technology
17 February, 2020

AV has decided to extend our winter discount through the end of February. 

Soil moisture probes, weather stations, irrigation system automation, pump and pond level sensing, etc. All discounted up to 15% off

Whether you are adding to your vineyard sensing capabilities, or starting fresh, this is a perfect time to start receiving site specific data to help farming decisions.  

We are happy to discuss your current situation and find the right system that fits your needs. 

Email or call us at (707) 838-3805.  

Site-Specific Pruning Simplified
13 January, 2020

I'm not going to go ahead and say that I don’t think pruning is taken seriously enough. So why is it that I see poorly pruned vineyards so often? I think that most growers and viticulturists know very well how to prune grapevines and could do a great job of it on their own—if that were possible. But most growers and viticulturists do not have the ability to prune the entirety of their vineyards on their own, so they employ a labor force to prune, just like any other manual vineyard task. All vineyard operations are important, but pruning is just a little more important because pruning affects not only the upcoming growing season’s vine balance and productivity, but potentially the longer-term ability of the vine to either build or maintain its health and productivity.

While there is certainly no problem handing over the pruning tasks to skilled laborers, it is important that the wishes of the grower or viticulturist is communicated effectively to the pruning crew, and that the crew is sufficiently supervised in order to control the quality and consistency of the job. I feel, however, that the message needs to be clear and somewhat simplified. Not to disparage anyone’s intelligence but, frankly, I think sometimes pruning plans are made overly convoluted to the point of becoming paralyzing in their complexity.

There are many methods and technologies that can be used to assist pruning decisions. Pruning formulae used to be popular (and are undoubtedly still used), where the number of buds retained per vine is based on an equation using the pruning weight of the vine. Usually, this is done on a block-by-block basis, but ideally, it is done on a more localized level. Technologies, such as LIDAR and lasers, are used to map the biomass of a vineyard on a fine spatial scale, which could add to the ability to prune to a vine-specific prescription.

Forgive me for sounding like a luddite, but unless we are pruning by machine (a perfect way to integrate those aforementioned technologies), human pruning crews are doing the job. And how are you going to communicate, on any practical level, that vine 1 needs to be pruned one way, and vine 2 another and, vine 3 a different way, etc.? The answer to that is not complexity; its simplicity. That doesn’t mean we aren’t pruning precisely. It just means we are employing some fundamentals of pruning that can be communicated to pruning crews and can be executed by them. The better pruners will adopt this and could, thereafter, prune any vineyard without much instruction. I’d like to give you what I believe to be my essentials for pruning.

Rule 1 Through 10: No Skinny Stuff

I’m not going to wait to the end of this article to state what I think is probably the most important practice, and that is to prune back to sufficiently thick, dense wood. This applies both to cane-pruned and spur-pruned systems. Don’t leave skinny wood! Why am I emphasizing this so much? It’s because I see it happen way too often, especially in cane-pruned vineyards, where it is the most detrimental and the most noticeable. Dormant buds and early-emerging shoots rely on stored carbohydrate in the woody tissues nearby. They cannot and do not produce their own photosynthetic energy until some leaves expand and become functional. Carbohydrate is stored in the permanent structure of the vine as starch during dormancy in the winter.

As the weather warms, the starch is broken down into simpler sugars. These sugars have a limited ability to move because there is little sap flowing, other than by root pressure, so the emerging buds and shoots need to feed off local carbohydrate storage. Leaving skinny wood starves the buds and young shoots for energy when they need it most.

It seems that whenever I look at a vineyard that I have not worked with before, I see excessive amounts of this skinny wood. In cane-pruned vines, this slows bud emergence, and sometimes buds don’t burst at all. Shoots that are starved of energy early in their growth usually remain stunted throughout the season. Fruit on the short shoots lag in maturation relative to fruit on stronger shoots, and short-shoot fruit is commonly dropped during one thinning pass or another. This is also true for spurs, though the effects are less dramatic because there is more permanent vine tissue near the buds of spurs than canes. Nevertheless, the same is true for spurs. Canes should be pruned back to a point where the girth of the cane is sufficient. Skinny spurs should be pruned back to one bud or even to the basal bud.

The effects are not short-term. I find that weak wood begets weak wood, and that means that the weak wood will leave weak shoots and canes that will be skinny the following year. In fact, I believe that excessive buds retained at pruning will weaken the vine over time and could potentially create ancillary problems, such as greater disease susceptibility.

What do I use as a rule of thumb? I like to prune to wood that is no less than 1 centimeter in diameter (three-eighths of an inch). Sometimes, we can cheat just a little but not by much. I hear “pencil width” often used as a guideline, and I suggest that pencil width is an insufficient girth to use as a reference. Unfortunately, pencil width is a convenient reference because many people can intuitively “sense” it, whereas three-eighths inch or 1 centimeter is more difficult to recognize. Nevertheless, I believe it is a good rule to prune by.

Leaving thicker, stronger wood will produce more uniform and stronger shoots and canes. Vines that have been overtaxed by overly generous pruning (i.e., leaving more buds than they should have) continue to be weak. I find that pruning weak vines severely, maybe even including cutting back cordons, can allow them to regain strength if they are not diseased. A little short-term pain is rewarded with a healthy and more productive vine in the longer term.

The beautiful thing about this one simple rule? It requires no technology. Just a good eye that can recognize thick and thin wood. This rule is also site-specific. Each vine can be assessed on its own merits and pruned accordingly, which means that this is a low-tech way to prune on a vine-by-vine basis, without needing complex pruning formulae or GPS-determined locations.

There are exceptions to every rule, of course. Thick canes are good unless they are shade canes or so-called bull canes. Thick canes with long inter- nodes and that are possibly also flattened/oval-shaped, rather than round in cross-section, are often poor choices for cane-pruning. Good pruners should know that. Also, just because a cane is thick doesn’t mean it should be stretched excessively long. Cane length can be longer for thicker canes, but don’t be greedy. Eight to 10 buds per cane will usually do; any more can still lead to uneven budbreak, especially in some varieties, like Cabernet Sauvignon.


There are many aspects of timing, but often the overriding issue is the logistics of just being able to get through the pruning season in time. There are reasons to prune both early and late. Budbreak timing will be affected by the timing of pruning. However, I doubt that a shift of any more than seven to 10 days of difference will be achieved by pruning in December versus late February. Yet, that could be enough of a shift to influence a decision. Early pruning could be used where ripening is difficult for a particular variety or vineyard block. Advancing the ripening a little may make the difference between ripe fruit in October or a mercy pick in November. However, early budbreak has its pitfalls. Susceptibility to spring frosts is an important consideration as is susceptibility to poor weather during bloom and fruit set. Both risks diminish if the season is pushed back a little later, at least with typical weather patterns in the North Coast. Trunk diseases are also an important consideration. An early prune will expose vines to fungal spores much longer than a later prune. Most pruning wound protectants are effective for a short time, but they may not remain that way during the long period between pruning time and budbreak. Hence, they may need to be applied twice for early-pruned vineyards.

In other words, early pruning is really only beneficial if fruit ripening is difficult in a particular situation. Otherwise, later is better. Many growers use the double-pruning approach: They use machines or people to long-prune their vineyards early in the dormant period and then follow up late-winter with the final pruning. This is only effective for spur-pruned vines and provides good protection against trunk diseases while also reducing spring frost risk and risk of poor fruit set due to poor spring weather.

Finer Aspects of Pruning

There have been more and more discussions about some of the finer aspects of pruning; and although I have not been through the discussions offered by Simonit and Sirch, I urge you to take a look at a recent article on that very subject authored by Judit Monis in Wine Business Monthly. 

The lessons are beautiful in their simplicity, which is something I can get behind. Avoid large flush cuts to older wood because they will die back and create zones of desiccation that will interfere with the vascular system of the trunk or cordon.

Also, avoid making cuts to both sides of a vine structure, as the dead wood will create a convoluted path for sap flow in the live wood. These poor practices not only reduce the health of the vines, by inhibiting sap flow, but also make them more susceptible to pathogen attack.

OK, you say, then what about the 100-year-old head-trained Zinfandel and Carignane vines so highly prized and so long-lived? Good question. Many of those vines beg the question, “How are they still alive?” In truth, many of those vines are barely alive and thrive only because they are pruned so severely that they are balanced. Can you buy that explanation? Hope so, because that’s all I’ve got.

That said, I usually like to see trunk and cordon suckers, if any, pruned flush to the trunk, only because we want to remove the basal buds that will push another sucker the following season. If the wood is only one-year-old, the desiccation zone into the trunk will be minimal.

Pruning is not simple. Good pruners get to be good with years of experience. I see no need or benefit in making things more complicated for them despite all of the technology we have now to make it so.

Check out Mark's full article in the January issue of Wine Business Monthly.

Put Next Season's Plans in Motion Today
03 January, 2020

This is the time to start thinking of goals for next season. Whether that is a new monitoring or control system or adding on to an existing site, we want to bring you the tools for success in 2020. And while the days are short we will offer incentives up to 15% off for technology equipment.

Now through the end of January, we are giving discounts on telemetry systems and sensors. Weather stations, soil probes, irrigation system monitoring and automation-you name it.

Our focus is connecting new and existing field sensors to devices that allow for real-time visualization and control of your vineyard. View historic data, set up alarms and even control valves and pumps from your smartphone or computer. Telemetry systems we currently support include Ranch SystemsWiseConn, Naviz Analytics and Davis Instruments. These systems, including Aquacheck soil moisture probes are all discounted through the end of January. So contact us now! 

We are happy to discuss your current situation and find the right system that fits your needs.

Email or call us at (707) 838-3805. 

Report on the Vintage
13 December, 2019

The 2019 Growing Season in Review

The 2019 growing season will be marked, if not scarred, by the amount of unsold fruit still hanging on the vine after harvest. You don’t need me to tell you that it was a rough year for growers just about everywhere in California. Growers with grape contracts faced strict limitations on their contracts’ tonnage maxima; and, while it was an average year for yield, even some contracted vineyards had fruit that was left hanging on the vines. For those without contracts, it was a no-go as almost nobody was looking to buy grapes this year. Even good grapes. I know that some spot market bargains were had, but most non-contracted grapes went to the birds. Or to the fungi. Unfortunately, I feel that this is not the last we’ve seen of a bad grape market. Let’s hope it’s a short dip and we get back into balance soon.

It Was a Good Vintage But...
As usual, I’m writing this from the perspective of the California North Coast wine-growing region. Any weather data I’m showing are from the Russian River region, or at least the corner of the region I call home base, which is the northern part of the AVA. I would bore you (and me) to pieces trying to pore over every region’s weather data, and so I’ll limit the discussion in this way to make it bearable and useful for most of us.
Overall, this year was fairly smooth. No big heat spikes, generally good weather and enough time available to ripen the fruit. But no growing season is perfect, and perfect is boring. So, I’ll accentuate the negative—because negativity is more interesting.

A Wet May
The rainy season was going along just fine, except for the flooding in February. I don’t mean to be insensitive, as the floods were severe and very damaging. But they occur frequently in a wet climate like this; and as usual, it happened when the vines were sleeping. After the February rains, the precipitation was more typical of the region, and we were proceeding along with what seemed to be a typical, if not drier than normal, spring. That is, until mid-May, when we received a rather unseasonal rainfall that ranged between about 3 to 5 inches over two days (F IGURE 1 ). East Coast folks will laugh at us, but that amount of rainfall is quite a challenge for fair-weather Californians.

In the short-term, the rainfall stopped all our field work for more than, including much-needed fungicide spraying. In the longer term, that amount of moisture was enough to bring most soils back to field capacity and even saturate many vineyards to a depth not usually found in May. We have soil moisture probes in vineyards throughout the region; and after the initial rainfall drained away, many soils remained saturated at depths of about 2 feet (and below, of course). Many of these soils did not fully drain below saturated levels in the lower soil profile until July and August and some even into September. It was a challenge to tell some growers not to irrigate in the middle of the summer, but many of them didn’t need to irrigate because that stored moisture held on for so long. My day job largely involves guiding growers to initiate their irrigation later into the season in order to extract the rain-fed moisture before applying any supplemental moisture. This year took that concept to an extreme, and we didn’t need to start irrigating most vineyards until August and September in the North Coast. (Likewise in East Paso Robles!). Some vineyards held on all season without any irrigation and only needed to be irrigated after harvest.
When the rains arrived, bloom and fruit set were not yet in wide display. There was some bloom but less than what is usually present mid-May. This is a good thing because rain, during bloom and fruit set, can and will cause failure to set fruit. There were a few precocious vineyards that were in bloom, and some did not fare well as a result. We did see a fair amount of shatter in Cabernet Sauvignon and some Rhône varieties, but fruit set was largely unimpeded by the foul mid-May weather. The spate of cool weather did seem to slow down the vines, and we were looking at a potentially very late season and harvest at the time of fruit set.
We Californians are spoiled with usually perfect growing season weather, and clearly that is something that makes our region so great for growing winegrapes. So, the vintage is usually affected when that dry weather pattern is disturbed. Another downside to late spring rainfall in 2019 was that vines and other vegetation grew wildly. It was tough to keep up with cover crop mowing and mowing, three times or even more was not uncommon. But worse than that were those growers who tilled in their cover crops—for shame! The season played a trick on us and made us think that spring was over with dumping its rainfall. So, some thought they would conserve moisture by tillage (as well as those who till for aesthetics). Those who tilled their tractor rows had it worse than those that didn’t. Unpredictable spring rainfall is yet another reason to consider moving to no-till management practices.
Botrytis is always a fear after a rain, partially in the short-term but mostly in the long-term, as the fungus can create a latent infection in the clusters that re-awakens much later in the growing season. Astute growers applied preventative sprays after fruit set and again at bunch closure. Perhaps as a result, and due to a rather dry harvest, I saw very little bunch rot on well tended vineyards this year.
Not only did cover crops and weeds grow like, uh, weeds, but so did the vines. Keeping up with canopy management after the May rains was difficult; and just when crews finished one tucking and positioning pass, another was needed, in addition to other canopy management tasks. With vines growing so wildly, our clients and our own vineyards withheld any nitrogen fertilization, for fear it would only feed the fire. I presume that nitrogen fertilizer was eventually applied to most vineyards, but I think some simply skipped that step; and as a result, I think some vineyards were nitrogen-deficient as harvest approached.

Temperature Patterns
In my opinion, though rainfall patterns are important, temperature patterns define the vintage. If that is the case, then this was a pretty good one, not an exceptionally hot year like 2017 nor an exceptionally cool one, like 2018. The 2019 vintage was a more-or-less Goldilocks one where things were just about right. Looking at the accumulated heat summation (degree-days, FIGURE 2 ), we see that the season started out pretty typically compared to the previous two seasons, whereby in mid-June heat accumulation was about the same for all three years. A late-season spate of warm weather rose the heat summation above that of last year, but the absence of extreme heat waves kept accumulated heat well below that of 2017 (a season many of us want to forget).

Looking at heat summation month-by-month (FIGURE 3 ), we see that May temperatures were much lower than the previous three growing seasons, which tended to delay the onset of bloom and fruit set. Many vineyards were setting fruit well into June this year, which is later than typical by about two weeks. My observations were that bloom and fruit set were erratic and uneven. Flowers were blooming on vines where fruit had already set. While not uncommon, this is not a blessing for quality because uniformity of maturation tends to lead to higher quality.
By June and July, things were more typical of the region, with weather being consistently mild to warm but devoid of extreme temperatures. We like that because the vines like that. But the late and erratic fruit set led to late and erratic veraison. We saw green Cabernet Sauvignon berries into late August, something I can’t recall seeing before. Veraison seemed to take weeks in a single vineyard block. I don’t like to appear pessimistic, but a long, drawn out veraison process is not good for wine quality. Again, this stemmed from the uneven bloom and fruit set weeks earlier.
Weather was quite warm during August and September, with heat summations rivaling the hot 2017 season, though without the extremes of the high temperatures in 2017. There were a few heat spikes, including one in late September that reached 105° F in Alexander Valley and a bit higher than that in a few other locations, like Calistoga, but nothing that caused immediate damage to most vineyards. The very late veraison was matched with a very short ripening period brought about, presumably, by the consistently warm, but not extremely hot, weather.
Does that bode well for quality? Well, we usually hope for a long ripening period, which allows for phenolic “ripeness” coincident with ideal sugar, acid and pH levels. For certain, many vineyards developed sugar quickly, and phenolics seem to match. My fear for the quality of the vintage lies more in the potential variability of fruit maturation, which persisted throughout ripening and originated at fruit set. Furthermore, the late spring rains made it difficult for vines to reach desired water stress levels as there was simply too much moisture available to them. Stress prior to veraison—I like to target lag phase—is an important physiological trigger of secondary metabolic enzymes in the fruit. This is especially important for red varieties. Some vineyards did indeed reach target stress levels prior to veraison, but I would estimate that most did not, especially if they were irrigated too early.

Since I’m being so negative, I’ll have to mention disease. Every year I say the same thing: “This was the worst mildew year ever.” Funny, though, that early in the season we were all marveling at how it was a good year for mildew control. That confidence was soon shattered when we ventured into the “worst mildew year ever.” This can best be visualized by looking at the powdery mildew (PM) risk index, with daily scores averaged over each month (FIGURE 4). Early- season (April-May) PM index levels were quite low in 2019 compared to the prior two years. Perhaps this created a sense of complacency with growers; and since the rains happened, it was difficult to catch up on sprays anyway.

But the index went sky-high in June, rivalling that of 2018, with index levels averaging over 80. That is high risk indeed. To make matters worse, the index stayed high in July and August. This was due to the consistently mild weather. It takes high heat to push mildew back, but our high temperatures did not venture over 95° F and were much milder than that, so mildew was a happy camper. We were not. Susceptible varieties, like Chardonnay, were hit bad. Control was difficult and some fruit simply had to be dropped. The late and uneven veraison made it even more challenging, since growers who made their last spray at veraison were surprised with the persistence of green berries, which are susceptible to PM and went unprotected before finally entering the ripening phase.

Late Spring Sometimes Defines the Vintage
It seems clearer than ever that, at least in the North Coast, late spring weather influences the vintage quality as much as any other weather factor. The big, late rain lies in counterpoint to the mild to warm (but not too hot) temperature patterns during fruit development. The mild weather also made for some severe outbreaks of powdery mildew that were tough to eradicate. Pardon my guarded pessimism, but while I’m sure great wines will be made from fruit this vintage, my overall impression is just “meh.” Hopefully, we’ll all be pleasantly surprised

Check out Mark's full article in the December issue of Wine Business Monthly.

It's Cold Outside... Save Some Cold Cash on Vineyard Technology
09 December, 2019

This is the time to start thinking of goals for next season. Whether that is a new monitoring or control system or adding on to an existing site, we want to bring you the tools for success in 2020. And since this is our "slow season", we will offer incentives up to 15% off for technology equipment.
Now through the end of January, we are giving discounts on telemetry systems and sensors. Weather stations, soil probes, irrigation system monitoring and automation-you name it.

Our focus is connecting new and existing field sensors to devices that allow for real-time visualization and control of your vineyard. View historic data, set up alarms and even control valves and pumps from your smartphone or computer. Telemetry systems we currently support include Ranch Systems, WiseConn, Naviz Analytics and Davis Instruments. These systems, including Aquacheck soil moisture probes are all discounted through the end of January. So contact us now!

We are happy to discuss your current situation and find the right system that fits your needs.
Email or call us at (707) 838-3805

Opportunities for project funding
11 November, 2019

The State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program (SWEEP) provides financial assistance in the form of grants to implement irrigation systems that reduce greenhouse gases and save water on California agricultural operations. Eligible system components include (among others) soil moisture monitoring, drip systems, automation, switching to low pressure irrigation systems, pump retrofits, variable frequency drives and installation of renewable energy to reduce on-farm water use and energy.

The Sonoma RCD is offering a free webinar to assist growers interested in applying for SWEEP Grant funding. 

Wednesday, November 20, 10-11:30 AM. Webinar held with California Sustainable Winegrowers Alliance. Register online HERE

For more information, visit

While SWEEP applications are due December 16th, NRCS EQIP funding is a year-round application process. Folks missing out on SWEEP can look into EQIP for projects under similar guidelines as SWEEP. For more information on EQIP, visit the website HERE.     

Email for questions about both SWEEP and EQIP funding. We are happy to help put together a site specific project that fits your needs and the parameters of the grant.  

Harvest Time: Does Your Vineyard Look Like $%*!?
15 October, 2019

Trust us, you are not alone..

It's harvest or post-harvest and your vines have been putting their resources into maturing a crop. Or trying to. At this time of year, due to leaf age, accumulation of stresses and a diversion of the vine's carbohydrates to the fruit, vines tend to look their worst.

There are many possibilities why your vines don't look right, and this is the best time to identify possible culprits, which could include nutrient deficiencies, toxicities, water stress or disease. We can help you determine if what you are seeing is a severe or minor problem, or maybe not even a problem at all. We can direct specific sampling and testing or perform the sampling ourselves and send samples to reputable labs for analysis.

Then, we can recommend mitigation and management strategies so you can deal with the issue in the best viticultural and economical way.

Mark Greenspan and the AV team are happy to schedule a vineyard walk through to assess health, perform any needed tests and provide recommendations. Don't ignore it or wait yet another year!

Email or call us at (707) 838-3805.

Webinar: Managing Water Stress for Superior Wine Grape Quality
13 August, 2019

Webinar by: Dr. Mark Greenspan of Advanced Viticulture and Christopher Dunagan from Naviz Analytics

Thursday 8/15/19 8:30AM Pacific Time
Why does Napa and Sonoma Cabernet fruit command some of the world's highest prices? Learn about the best practices for Vineyard Water Stress Management from Dr. Mark Greenspan from Advanced Viticulture. Dr. Greenspan, widely acknowledged as one of the leading Viticulture experts in world is regularly published in Wine Business Monthly. Christopher Dunagan from Naviz Analytics will also show you how leading growers use Remote Sensing technology and Analytics to help manage vineyard operations and report on water stress management practices.

Register for the webinar

Is It Too Early to Irrigate?
26 July, 2019

Many North Coast vineyards are beginning to irrigate, or soon will start. Without sensors in the ground, we run risk of over irrigating or over-stressing our vines and losing either or both quality and yield. With veraison around the corner, we still have time to install soil moisture sensors to help you optimize your water management.

Soil moisture sensors are the most useful tool for precision water management of vineyards. Having decades of experience, Mark Greenspan has perfected how to view this information and make calculated decisions about when to start irrigating and then about irrigation volume and intervals. Soil moisture is not a secondary measurement. It's a primary one along with plant water status measurements like the pressure chamber and porometer.

We don't just sell soil moisture devices - we show you how to use them because we use them ourselves.

Our services include installation and support of the soil moisture sensors. Once installed, we are happy to guide you on how to view the soil moisture data and make calculated decisions on irrigation. 

For those wanting more assistance, AV offers an advisory package for folks looking for expert analysis and easy-to-follow irrigation recommendations based on your real-time soil moisture and plant stress data. 

Email or call us at (707) 838-3805 for more information on our soil moisture probes, other technology and any site specific questions you may have.

To Till or Not to Till?
24 June, 2019

I recently attended a tour of some vineyards in central Spain, hosted by Lallemand, to introduce some international viticulturists and winemakers to their LalVigne product, which acts to stimulate ripening processes in the grape. I will talk about their product, as well as some others, in another column. I had been to Spain a few times before this recent visit but was struck by the vineyards in the La Mancha region, which were rather extensive plantings of very low, head-trained (AKA bush) vines, widely-spaced and whose vineyard floor had been completely denuded of any other vegetation besides the vines themselves. This practice has been traditional in the region, which receives about 20 inches of rainfall annually and whose soils are very shallow and rocky. Because the soil overlies limestone, roots go down to only about 30 inches in depth or less.

Nevertheless, they do have irrigation available in the La Mancha region, and some vineyards there are experimenting with cover crops in order to build their soils, which otherwise tend to look like barren wastelands. Here in California, it is becoming more and more uncommon to witness vineyard floors with such a “scorched earth” appearance. Growers have been employing cover crops, either by sowing a blend of grasses, legumes or insectary flowers, or by allowing the “native” vegetation to grow during the winter and managing it during the growing season. The current trend has been to reduce or eliminate tillage from the row middles (i.e., tractor row). But is leaving the cover crop in the tractor row a source of competition for the vines and could it be more detrimental than it is beneficial? The answer is, of course, “it depends.”

If Spanish traditionalists are trying cover crops in regions they never have before, perhaps there is a reason. As you can see from the photo, the soil in that bush vine vineyard looks more like a pile of dead rocks than it does actual soil, but fine winegrape vineyards don’t really want fertile soil, do they? Again, it depends. 

What Do Cover Crops Do for Us? 
Soil is an ecosystem with a mineral phase, a water phase, a gas phase and a biological phase. The biological phase includes soil-borne macrobiota: worms, insects, nematodes, mollusks, plant roots, etc.; and microbiota: bacteria and fungi of countless different genera and species. While some of the biota are potentially harmful to grapevine roots (e.g., some nematode species, grape phylloxera, some pathogenic bacteria and fungi), most, if not all, are part of an interwoven subterranean ecosystem. The soil biota help to cycle nutrients, thereby improving the efficiency of cropped systems by cycling biomass into useful minerals for our crops. Dead plant parts function as a source of energy for much of the soil organisms, large and small. So, when we prevent vegetation, a component of our biological system, from growing, usually through cultivation or herbicide applications, we eliminate the primary food source for the biological organisms in the soil. This not only increases our dependence on chemical fertilizers, it potentially creates waste as the soil nutrient-holding capacity of the soil is benefited by the ability of soil microbes to convert fertilizers into usable forms for plants, as well as to lock some up for temporary storage into organic forms.

In other words, a lack of plants (other than grapevines) is potentially very dangerous for a vineyard and is generally undesirable for a sustainable vineyard system.

An extensive research study was published in 20031, where a vineyard was analyzed after 17 years of treatments that included a permanent fescue cover crop in tractor rows, herbicide-treated tractor rows and alternate-row herbicide treatments (none was tilled). There was a distinct and significant elevation in soil organic matter in soil under permanent sod, but the difference was only seen in the upper 8 inches. Nitrogen content was also higher in the upper 8 inches of soil while potassium content was higher, down to 18 inches under the cover-cropped treatment. Soil under permanent cover crop also had higher water-holding capacity and greater friability down to 18 inches and a lower bulk density (hence less compaction) down to 8 inches. While no soil microbiological assessments were made (this study was done before PCR laboratory methodologies were as widespread as they are now), the higher soil organic matter and generally better soil conditions would most likely promote a more active and potentially diverse soil microbiota.

Mind you, the benefits were mostly seen in the upper levels of soil, which are where most of the microbial activity and nutrient cycling occur. Though not explicitly stated, cover crops will aid in water infiltration and reduce runoff and erosion. Grass cover crops, such as the one studied in the 2003 paper, are high biomass producers, with dense but shallow root systems. Some native perennial grasses have deeper root systems, and we’ve seen them as deep as 4 feet in some places. But those grasses are intensely competitive and are not generally good companions for grapes, except possibly under the soggiest, most vigor-inducing soil conditions.

While grasses have a benefit as a cover crop, broadleaf plants also have their place. Legumes (e.g., beans, peas, vetch, clover) form a symbiosis with certain bacteria, and can capture nitrogen from the atmosphere and “fix” it in a mineral form that can serve as a nutrient for the crop. There is a place for legumes in all but very vigorous vineyards. The nitrogen fixed by legumes is not immediately available but is slowly released as the vegetation decomposes, which creates a slow and steady available nitrogen source for the vines. Besides legumes, many growers like to plant mustards and other brassicas, which have showy flowers in the spring and some tendency, though not a very strong one, to repel nematodes. Yet another use for cover crops is for insectaries, and they are usually planted only in a small percentage of rows for that purpose.

What is the Downside to Cover Crops? 
The 2003 study I’ve referred to demonstrated a strong competitiveness of the grass cover crop for the grape roots. Grape roots were found to be far less abundant wherever the grape roots proliferated. That means, in the case of the cover crop, there were much fewer grape roots in the tractor row down to about 2 feet in depth. Below that depth, a reduction in grape roots was not observed. On the other hand, there were more grape roots found under the vines in the cover-cropped treatment than in the sprayed treatment, though again the differences were not evident below about 2 feet in depth. So, clearly, the grass cover crop roots presented a source of competition against the grape roots and caused the vine roots to grow differently based on the grass competition.

Grasses will compete against other species for nutrients and water, but much of their competitiveness comes through allelopathy, wherein the grass roots exude chemicals that are toxic to other plants. This is why it is generally quite undesirable to grow grass cover crops under vine rows. But can this effect be undesirable for cover crops grown only in tractor rows and not under vines? Again, I fall back on “it depends.”

I’ve been involved with a study in Sonoma County that compares cover- cropped to tilled treatments, similar to the 2003 study, but with tillage instead of herbicides and with a much shorter time of study. One of the measurements includes soil moisture profiles measured in the vine rows in the treatment plots. Because I am serving as an advisor and analyst on the project and am not the principal investigator on it, I will refrain from presenting any data from the study (and also because the study is ongoing). However, early indications are that the cover-cropped versus tilled treatments did not show any differences in the rate of moisture draw-down by the vines, at least when measured under the vine rows.

Anecdotally, others who have conducted similar trials have seen little, if any, differences in water consumption under tilled versus non-tilled treatments. This is somewhat perplexing since we would expect a transpiring cover crop to extract more moisture from the soil than a tilled soil, as a tilled soil may dry out in the upper few inches, but the disturbed soil will tend to inhibit evaporation otherwise. I suspect that we and others may have seen a difference in moisture draw-down in the tractor rows under cover crop versus tillage, but it is not practical to maintain soil moisture devices in the tractor rows.

That said, I most certainly believe that a cover crop will compete with vines, both for water and through an allelopathic interaction (for grasses). While cover crops will tie up nutrients, the long-lasting effect is not a nutrient  competition because nutrients are eventually released as the vegetation decomposes, which is what cover crops eventually do. As for water competition, keeping cover crops mowed will reduce the transpirational surface area and, hence, reduce their water competitiveness. And on the contrary, leaving them high will help to extract moisture from the soil, which can be a good tool for wet spring conditions (and wet summer conditions in regions that receive summer rainfall). But as we’ve seen in our limited trial work, the competition is not great under well-managed conditions (i.e., a mowed cover crop with weeds controlled in the vine rows).

Where might cover crops be undesirable? Truthfully, they will probably be beneficial in almost any situation, and the types of cover crops can be chosen to complement any soil and climate combination. Grasses are great at water consumption if water is in over-supply and are also great for biomass production to improve soil organic matter content. Legumes are great for stimulating weaker vineyards by their ability to fix nitrogen and lack of competition based on their growth cycle. But planting grasses in a weak vineyard could be counterproductive, especially if not mowed when water is scarce. Planting legumes in a vigorous vineyard is similarly unwise.

Thinking about the relatively “awful” soils in La Mancha, wine growers have long eschewed any form of weeds and cover crops in order to reduce competition. But, in so doing, they have also (likely) reduced soil organic matter, water-holding capacity and nutrient retention. It’s good to see that they are now experimenting with allowing other vegetation into their vineyards. The move to cover crops and reduction in tillage is a good one, but like everything, it must be managed to suit the specific conditions of the vines, soils and climate.

Irrigation Automation for Precise Water Management
06 June, 2019

Though much of the North Coast got a healthy mid-May drink of water recently, preparing for and scheduling of irrigations are right around the corner. 

Without remote monitoring and control of the system, we sacrifice both potential wine quality and water use efficiency. Walking the vineyard to operate valves, manually monitoring flow and pressure are time consuming and error-prone. For instance, did your irrigator really turn on that block for 4 hours, or was it actually 3?

These should be problems of the past. 

Controlling your system from a smartphone or computer and monitoring usage in real-time eliminates the risk of error and saves you time and money and provides documentation of your irrigation activities. 

Systems we design, sell and support monitor and grant you full control of your vineyard water delivery system.  

  • Control valves and pumps 
  • Create irrigation schedules
  • Monitor flow rates and pressures
  • Move water from source to holding vessel
  • Monitor tank, pond and well levels
  • Monitor soil moisture 
  • Receive alerts for moisture conditions and system operation
  • Provide a record of water use activities

We work with some of the best companies out there for irrigation control: Ranch Systems and WiseConn. Click the logo below to learn more about each system and their specifications.

Email if you would like more information about either system or the concept in general. We are happy to answer site-specific questions and work out a plan that fits your needs.  

Last Chance to See Full-Season Soil Moisture Data
09 May, 2019

Our inventory is re-stocked! 

With the season upon us, this is a great time to install soil moisture sensors and view a full-season's set of soil moisture dynamics. 

The probes we support measure soil moisture and temperature from 6-12 sensor depths. Meaning with one probe, you can view specific moisture readings every 4 inches- down to four feet!  

  • Identify where and how much water is stored in your soil
  • View where root activity is occurring
  • Visualize when moisture becomes sufficiently depleted such that irrigation is necessary
  • Know how deeply irrigation applications percolate in your soil for precision irrigation and avoidance of deep percolation
  • Precisely identify the correct irrigation schedule - no guesswork or models

We are ready to put the necessary measures in place so you can view soil moisture data for years to come. Telemetry systems we support will send continuous data to your smart phone or computer.

Contact for more information on soil moisture sensors. We are happy to find the site-specific system that best fits your needs.  



Don't let frost kill your season
11 March, 2019

We want you to be prepared this spring so your vines wont end up looking like these.

It's time to install a state-of-the-art wireless frost alert system.The systems we support will wake you from your slumber so you can brave the elements and protect your crop. Set specific parameters, choose your mode of alert, and trust that your system is acting as your frost sentry. Be alerted via phone call or text message or both.

The AV team is ready to act fast and put in the necessary solutions ASAP.

Email for questions and comments about frost monitoring systems.

You can add a full weather station or any number of sensors and control elements to this system either now or in the future.

Making sense of soil moisture sensors
18 February, 2019

Making sense of soil moisture sensors 

Soil moisture sensors are the most useful tool for precision water management of vineyards. With two decades of experience, Mark Greenspan has perfected how to view these reports, and make calculated decisions about when to start irrigating and then about irrigation volume and intervals. 

We don't just sell soil moisture devices - we show you how to use them because we use them ourselves.

Our services include installation and support of the soil moisture sensors. Once installed, we are happy to give a tutorial on how to view the soil moisture data and make calculated decisions on irrigation. 

For those wanting more assistance, AV offers an advisory package for folks looking for expert analysis and easy-to-follow irrigation recommendations based on your real-time soil moisture and plant stress data. 

Whether it is a short term tutorial, or long term consulting, we want you collecting soil moisture data and learning how to use it to extract maximum value. Email or call us at (707) 838-3805 for more information on our soil moisture probes and any site specific questions you may have. 

Winter Discount
07 January, 2019

It's that time of year..


Who says the holidays have to be over?

 Now through the end of January, we are giving discounts on telemetry systems and sensors. Weather stations, soil probes, automation-you name it.  


This year we want to focus on connecting new and existing field sensors to telemetry. View historic data, set up alarms and even control valves and pumps from your smartphone or computer. Telemetry systems we currently support include Ranch Systems, WiseConn and Davis. These systems, including Aquacheck soil moisture probes are all discounted through the end of January. So contact us now!  

We are happy to discuss your current situation and find the system that fits your needs. 

Email or call us at (707) 838-3805

Continuous, real-time soil moisture information
26 November, 2018

Soil moisture sensors are one of the most (if not the most) useful tool for precisely managing water in winegrape vineyards. 

If you don't know what's happening below ground, you are missing out on half the picture! Our goal now is to move away from

 hand-logged devices and connect your soil probes to the "cloud". Live soil moisture data, instantly, to your smartphone or 

computer. Why wait to download the data when you can see what it is in real-time?

From this...                              To this... image

Systems we currently support include Ranch Systems, WiseConn and Davis. All of these can connect to your new or even 

your existing soil moisture probes. Costs vary, but you may be pleasantly surprised at how inexpensive it can be*.

  • View historic data 
  • Create graphs and set up limits interactively
  • Set up alerts
  • Even create irrigation automation triggers 
  • Monitor real-time soil moisture anytime, anywhere

 You have better things to do than download your soil moisture devices!

* Advanced Viticulture's moisture monitoring clients may receive discounts on monitoring if telemetry is installed. 

For more information about telemetry options or information on soil moisture probes, email 

or call us at (707) 838-3805. We are happy to discuss your situation and help find a solution to make viewing soil moisture data a whole lot easier.

Automating flow meters
29 October, 2018

Automating flow meters
Make easy work of automating record keeping

Monitoring water use may be necessary for some farms under SB88 or the SGMA program. Whether it is needed now or will be in the near future, why make more work for yourself than is necessary. Tracking water use of your vineyard/farm is cumbersome, not to mention the reporting that is needed. Many of us have flow meters installed (or may be required to do so in the near future). However, many are stuck walking the vineyard to collect flow data.

We can help make that task much easier. 

Our technology partner Ranch Systems has introduced a package (for flow meters and pressure sensors only) where we can hook up existing meters to telemetry for 50% off annual Ranch Cloud subscription costs. The system can even generate the monthly report you need to file.

New or existing meters, analog or digital at half-price. If you don't have a flow meter, we can help you get started on that also.

Digital flow meter
As a general rule of thumb, most digital flow meters can hook right up to Ranch Systems nodes. We are happy to confirm this with your flow meter manufacturer. Shown in the photo right, connecting directly to the meter is a ranch systems sensor cable. 
Integrating analog meters
New to Ranch is the optical reader for analog (dial) flow meters. The reader uses embedded camera technology to capture an image of the meter face at regular intervals, which will digitize the numerical value and create logs of water use and generate necessary reports under your control.
We would be happy to help you track your water use for yourself or any agency. Avoid that hassle of doing it manually. Contact for any questions about this discount, or for all other vineyard monitoring technology.




Eliminate Guesswork - Install a System That Supports Complete Irrigation Control
23 July, 2018

As July flies by, many of us on the North Coast have begun to irrigate, or will soon start the schedule. The timetable is calculated and undoubtedly, questions arise. Was pump x turned on/off? How long did Block x receive water? Was there enough pressure? Did the filter clog? ...  Ease your mind during this critical time by installing a system that supports complete irrigation control. 


Eliminate guesswork
Systems we design, sell and support monitor and grant you full control of your vineyard irrigation. 

  • Control valves and pumps 
  • Create irrigation schedules
  • Monitor flow rates and pressures
  • Move water from source to holding vessel
  • Monitor soil moisture 
  • Receive alerts to eliminate deviation
  • View historic data to confirm success
  • Provide a solid record of water use

        * Valve control with Ranch Systems shown in photo 

We work with some of the best companies out there for irrigation control: Ranch Systems and WiseConn. Click the logo below to learn more about each system and its specifications.

We would be happy to go in to more detail about these systems, and discuss site-specific application to find out how best to suit your needs. Email or call us at (707) 838-3805. 

Water Stress Management: Do We Have It Figured Out?
06 June, 2018

Excerpt from Mark Greenspan's May Wine Business Monthly article

It doesn’t take a genius to know how important water is to agriculture, but 30 years ago I had yet to learn about the finer aspects of how it can be managed and manipulated to produce the best wines from any vineyard. I’m glad that I ended up working with water as it continues to be known as one of the primary tools a wine grower has available to manipulate his crop towards the end product and, for those of us in the coastal regions, to bring out the true site characteristics from a vineyard. 

I’ll divide the active growing season into four segments for the sake of this discussion: Budbreak to fruit set, fruit set to veraison, veraison to harvest and harvest to leaf drop.

Budbreak to Fruit Set
This stage is easy. Between budbreak and fruit set, we are aiming for steady, uniform shoot elongation. This period has been referred to as the “grand period of growth.” While we don’t want excessive rate of shoot elongation, we in wet winter climates usually manage vigor before the season starts, using balanced pruning techniques, not water management. We pretty much want our vines to have all the water they need during the grand period of growth. In the North Coast, this is easy. 

Even in drought years and except for the rockiest of soils, we usually start the growing season with a soil profile that is at field capacity and in some cases above field capacity at some soil depths. That is not the case with the Central Coast. Many locations will not receive a full profile from rainfall each year, so some irrigation will be necessary during the spring (and some will need irrigation during the winter as well).

How does one know if their vineyard needs to be irrigated? The easy and non-sustainable way would be to simply irrigate. There is no downside to the vineyard to irrigate, during the winter and spring, as long as one uses high-quality water. But, the use of soil moisture monitoring devices is always a good idea to identify how much moisture resides in the soil at any given

Finally, we absolutely do not want any water stress to occur on the vines during bloom and fruit set periods. We also do not want excessive vegetative vigor at this time, but that is often more about nitrogen status than water status.

Fruit Set to Veraison
This is the critical period. Following fruit set, the berry enlarges, first by cell division and expansion and later (after two to three weeks have passed) by cell expansion alone. Berry enlargement will be very sensitive to water deficit stress at this time as the berry is being fed by xylem vessels, which can both push water into the berry and pull it back out.

Growth of berries is impossible without turgor pressure within the cells, and water stress will cause berries to become less turgid. The softening usually only occurs temporarily during the day but can be sufficient to reduce berry enlargement. Therefore, water deficit stress has a direct, depressing effect on yield.

However, the benefits of well-managed water stress at this stage are great, and this is the phenological period that benefits most from controlled water stress. As mentioned, berry size is reduced by water deficit stress. But, the benefits are not solely about berry size. Let’s get back to vine vegetative growth—primary shoot and lateral elongation. Our goal is to grow enough leaf area to ripen the crop but not so much growth, including lateral shoots, that we create a dense canopy, especially not in the fruit zone. Dense canopies cost more money in canopy management, create disease pressure, both for powdery mildew and botrytis, and have a depressing effect on wine quality. Vines that have ample water resources will simply continue to grow vegetatively, so there is a compelling reason to control water status of the vines during this phase of development.

However, perhaps the most compelling reason is that we have a short, but fairly identifiable, period during which water stress can improve aspects of ripening and final wine quality more than any other time of the growing season. This is the period preceding veraison, whose length is unclear, but I suggest is about two to three weeks before veraison. For many varieties,
this is the lag phase when fruit slows down its growth prior to softening and resumes its growth at and after veraison.

Hence, the primary window for water stress is lag phase through completion of veraison (because berries go through veraison asynchronously). Some evidence exists that water stress could hasten the onset of veraison and possibly make it more uniform, but excessive water stress may also retard veraison. So, like most things, moderation is the name of the game. We
usually aim for -14 bars of midday leaf water potential or 125-150 mmol m-2 s-1 of stomatal conductance during this period, though these values vary among varieties, wine styles, and soil conditions.

Veraison to Harvest
The current trend seems to be that the water stress applied prior to veraison can be relieved after veraison because beneficial effects of stress on berry metabolism is far less than before veraison. Aside from during heat events (when keeping water status high allows leaves to better cool themselves and maintain some photosynthesis) there is no reason to over-irrigate vines during the ripening phase. We want to maintain a little stress on the vines, though not as much as we had imposed on them during our lag phase stress window.

Speaking of winemakers, it burns me (and sometimes the grapes) when they ask us growers not to irrigate during ripening or at least at the latter stages of ripening. Unless vines have been over-irrigated, there is little reserve moisture in the soil remaining, and going cold turkey on irrigation causes vines in that condition to crash. I totally understand not wanting growers to over-irrigate at that stage, but vines still need water to maintain leaf function through harvest.

Post-harvest irrigation is so important, it’s amazing how many growers get it wrong. I’ve seen everything, from no-irrigation after harvest to the infamous “big drink and walk away.” I’d prefer the latter to the former; but if the length of time between harvest and leaf drop is long, it’s better to just keep irrigating the vines as they were before harvest. We want to keep leaves functioning to replace carbohydrates in the permanent structure of the vine. This is extremely important. I’m not going to drone on and on about this, but the moment after harvest is the first day of the new growing season so don’t neglect your vines at this critical time. 

Water management is probably our biggest tool in California viticulture. Most growing regions of the world do not have the opportunity to control vine stress as we do. Let’s use our advantage wisely

Check out Mark's full article in the May issue of Wine Business Monthly. 
To find out more about our moisture management services and the tools we use to manage water stress, email, or call us at (707) 838-3805 

Moisture monitoring services and irrigation guidance
30 April, 2018

           AV irrigation management services for this growing season

JT with pressure bomb & leaf porometer

Moisture monitoring of both plant and soil is essential for bringing out the best in any vineyard. Avoid excessive irrigation, find out if dry-farming is possible, bring out your vineyard's terroir and refine a key component of sustainable viticulture. Our moisture management services improve wine quality without sacrifice to productivity and, over time, reduce your vineyard's dependence on irrigation. 

We will install soil moisture probes in key locations that provide continuous measurements of the moisture profile and combine that with plant moisture status measurements and visual observations. You may have seen our soil moisture charts before (we post them here in our newsletters). We will interpret those for you, instructing you on how to interpret them yourself (if you want to), study them in the context of plant moisture status, and come up with brief, but specific, irrigation recommendations for you on a repeated weekly cycle. We do this for the entire growing season.

Don't rely on a computer model or automated advisory system. Our hand-made advice comes from expert viticulturists with over three decades of combined experience including Mark Greenspan, Ph.D. who is known internationally for his work in vineyard water. We believe our services are best described HERE, by clients who have leveraged the results. Cost? Well like all things there are volume discounts, but our monitoring AND consulting services can be retained for under $50 per week per monitoring location for an entire season.

Email Paul for questions and comments about the service, technology and specific application to your vineyard. Or call us at 707-838-3805.



Tools of our trade: 

Pressure Bomb

-Measures leaf water potential

-Biophysical stress measurement

Decagon/Meter* Leaf Porometer

-Measures stomatal conductance

-Good indicator of benificial stress

-Identifies range for optimal water use efficiency 

Aquacheck* Soil Moisture Probe (6 sensor)


-Identify where and how much water is stored in your soil

-View where root activity is occuring

-Visualize when moisture becomes sufficiently depleted that irrigation is necessary

-Know how far irrigation applications percolate in your soil

-Precisely identify the irrigation nshcedule-no guesswork


* Advanced Viticulture is an authorized reseller for METER/Decagon products (including the porometer), Aquacheck soil moisture devices, and several different data telemetry manufacturers including Ranch SystemsWiseConn and Davis Instruments

If You're Not Measuring, You're Guessing
13 April, 2018

Knowing your soil moisture takes the guesswork out of vineyard water management

Bud break is here and the 2018 vintage is underway. A dry February for the North Coast, followed by a rain-filled March begs the question, “is it time to irrigate?”  

There have been some email campaigns circulating suggesting that irrigation of vineyards is imminent. For most locations, we disagree. Notwithstanding the predicted rainfall that should hit us very soon, most soil moisture profiles in the north coast are where they were last year. 

Using continuous soil moisture profile probes at our vineyards, we don't need to speculate about what might be needed with regard to irrigation. We just know. And no matter what method you choose to monitor your vine water status/stress and/or evapotranspiration, if you don't measure what is happening below the surface, you're still just guessing.  

Here we investigate a few different locations, with different soils and different climates and comment on each one. For each of them, we show a full year's worth of soil moisture. The beginning of the chart shows the moisture levels at the same time one year ago.

The upper chart shows average soil moisture and the lower chart shows individual depths in the profile. Both representations of moisture are important as they tell us different things and facilitate rapid decision-making. Note that total profile charts are only possible with water content information - matric potential data cannot be summarized in this manner, which is why we prefer water content sensors.

Do any of these look like your vineyard? You won't know until you measure it. 

Green valley vineyard

Green valley vineyard on Goldridge fine sandy loam soil (we've used this site for examples previously). This vineyard has received about 22.5 inches of rainfall this season. The average soil moisture (upper chart, blue line) is nearly identical to what it was this same time last year. Note that the vineyard did not require irrigation until Mid-August as moisture was taken up at succesively-deeper levels as the season progressed. The longer we wait to irrigate here in the north coast, the less the vines become dependent on irrigation.

Russian River valley vineyard

Russian River valley vineyard on Huichica loam soil. This vineyard has received about 19 inches of rainfall this season. Again, the average soil moisture (upper chart, blue line) is nearly identical to what it was this same time last year. Note that the vineyard did not require irrigation until Mid-July as moisture was taken up at successively-deeper levels as the season progressed. The deepest level (48", brown line in the lower chart) did not get accessed by the vines until early August and moisture became depleted at that depth in early September.

Eastern Paso Robles vineyard

Eastern Paso Robles vineyard on a silty clay soil. This vineyard has received only 8.5 inches of rainfall this season, which is common, but on the dry side of normal. These soils rarely saturate and this season is no different in that respect. Note, however, that the soil moisture in the profile (upper chart, blue line) is about the same as it was the same time last year. In this climate, the limited soil moisture requires earlier irrigation to allow for canopy growth and good fruit set. After fruit set, irrigation must continue, but a deficit irrigation program will ease the vines into a mild water stress for the benefit of wine quality. Knowing soil moisture here is especially important at all times of the growing season, since it rarely starts off with a soil profile even close to field capacity.

Soil water content information is critical, no matter how you choose to measure vine water status. You need to know what is going on below ground level. Don't guess - your crop is too important. Contact us to find out how you can start taking the guesswork out of water management. Contact Paul at or call us at 707-838-3805.  

Sonoma RCD Offers Discounted Irrigation Management Services
02 April, 2018

Budbreak is here. And it's time to think about your water management practices this upcoming growing season. And for the lifetime of your vineyard.

Sonoma RCD has a great opportunity for growers on important reaches of Mill, Mark West, Grape and Wine Creeks, and their tributaries, to participate in a vineyard water management and conservation project. We have a grant that allows the Sonoma RCD to pay for 85 % of the cost of:

-1-2 irrigation block evaluations, which includes information on distribution uniformity performance, and a report and recommendations for system upgrades, if needed

-receiving weekly irrigation recommendations from Advanced Viticulture, who will monitor soil probes in the field, along with doing weekly porometer and pressure bomb readings

-developing a water management/conservation plan

 You would benefit by looking at the different aspects of your water use and management, and develop a plan to meet your needs, while using water as efficiently as possible. The irrigation efficiency tests would help you understand how well your system is working, and make recommendations to maximize your distribution uniformity and irrigation efficiency. This increases grape quality and production, while minimizing water use. The weekly Advanced Viticulture irrigation recommendations will help improve fruit quality and provide timely information on when to water or hold off.

 Fortunately, we can offer these services, of which you would only need to cover 15% of the overall costs. It would only require a small time commitment from you. Please let us know your interest in this, as we are trying to nail down our last couple participants soon.


Please contact Keith Abeles by email or phone to answer any questions or discuss the opportunity., (707) 569-1448 xtn 112

If you know of others you think would be a good candidate, please let us know.


Frost risk is now through mid-May
05 March, 2018


Frost protection using sprinklers

Frost season is upon us!

Nights may have gotten warmer, but they will get colder again. Until mid-May, the North Coast runs risk of losing our crop to frost damage.

There is still time to put the necessary measures in place to monitor frost events and reduce risk of catastrophic loss. The automated weather stations we install will wake you from your slumber so you can brave the elements and protect your crop. Systems we work with can automatically generate text messages and/or phone calls for frost alerts. 

The AV team is ready to act fast and put in the necessary solutions ASAP.

Email for questions and comments about frost monitoring systems. We would be happy to send you more information, or set up a meeting to discuss applications specific to your farm.

Another Dry Winter?
05 February, 2018

Weather report for February 2018

It's too early to tell, but recent weather history and February's forecast indicate the possibility of a dry winter. What does this mean to your vineyard?
  • Is winter irrigation needed?
  • Will I need to irrigate early?
  • Should I till my cover crop?
It so happens that the rainfall we've received thus far has moistened the soil profile sufficiently to avoid the need for winter irrigation (in most vineyards in the North Coast), but prolonged lack of rainfall could change that. But the recent warm weather could promote early budbreak, which could introduce more variables.
Email for questions and comments. 
We would be happy to send you more information, or set up a meeting to discuss benifits specific to your farm. 

Advanced Viticulture Now Offers Davis Instruments Equipment to Growers
13 November, 2017

Low-cost weather and soil moisture monitoring with EnviroMonitor

We've been looking for an affordable telemetry solution for soil moisture monitoring. We have found it!  The Davis Enviromonitor system is your simple, reliable and inexpensive tool for crop monitoring.

  • Mesh network to monitor many locations across a property, inexpensively.
  • Connect soil moisture probes, such as Aquacheck, who are also partners of AV.
  • Connect weather station sensors, irrigation sensors, and really just about any kind of sensor
  • Telemetry nodes have an MSRP under $400 each and AV discounts ALL Davis Instruments equipment below MSRP.

A great way to monitor everything in your vineyard.

Advanced Viticulture is an authorized re-seller for Davis Instruments.

Water Management and Post-Fire Support: Technical and Financial Assistance Through EQIP and Other Programs
02 November, 2017

Please join us at the Advanced Viticulture Offices on Friday November 17th from 10:00 to 11:30am for a USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) presentation on available technical and financial assistance for conservation work on vineyards through their Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).

There are opportunities for qualified applicants of federal funding for vineyard projects available through the USDA NRCS Petaluma Field Office that demonstrate a conservation benefit. Projects often include (but are not limited to): irrigation system improvements, soil moisture monitoring, flow meters and weather station implementation, cover crop and mulching, wildlife boxes, hedgerow and insectary plantings, field borders and filters strips, and riparian area improvements.Fire recovery programs will also be discussed.

Brooke Pippi, NRCS Petaluma Field Office Engineer, will be presenting this information and has 10 years experience with assisting growers in Sonoma and Marin counties.Keith Abeles from the Sonoma RCD will discuss programs and services that they offer to growers, in the realms of water management and fire damage support.

We will also briefly discuss the PG&E ADR program, which will subsidize irrigation automation projects.

Advanced Viticulture will be showcasing products from water management technology partners they represent, but this will not be a sales-focused discussion.

Refreshments will be served. Please RSVP to Advanced Viticulture by November 14th to attend this exciting discussion and opportunity!

RSVP or email questions and comments to

Thank you,

The Cost of Soil Moisture Monitoring Continues to Drop
09 June, 2017

No, we never get tired of promoting the use of soil moisture for vineyards. Having adopted them in 2010 after eschewing them for decades, we now feel that they are one of the most valuable pieces of information out there for growers. And they are becoming more affordable, at least with respect to the conveyance of this information to your computer screen, portable device or phone.

We're working as re-sellers for several different companies now and you will be pleasantly surprised at the affordability as well as quality of these systems for soil moisture monitoring as well as any other monitoring or control purpose. Be pleasantly surprised. Call us at 707-838-3805 or reach out to Mark at or JT at

Oh, and by the way, those devices we installed in 2010 are still working just fine!



Following a wet winter, how are we looking with regard to water management?
16 May, 2017

This winter was the wettest on record. I've had some growers ask me or joke "so we won't need to irrigate this year, right!?". Well, as most of you probably know, that is not the case at all. There is a finite amount of water storage in our soils, referred to as water holding capacity (WHC), defined per depth of soil, but also spanning the depth of the effective root zone. Beyond that WHC, any additional moisture will either run off, or percolate below the root zone. Soils in the north coast were essentially at field capacity in December of 2016, so all of that heavy rainfall did not contribute one drop of additional moisture storage to vineyard soils. It's really the spring rainfall that dictates how we manage vineyard water. Late spring rainfall forces us to combat that extra available moisture through vineyard management practices, such as delayed suckering and thinning, cover crop and floor management, and possibly less fertilization.

Next month, take a look at my article on the subject in the June issue of Wine Business Monthly, where I go into greater detail. In that article, I stress the importance of soil moisture management. There are new technologies that are bringing us the ability to automatically monitor vine water status (stress). I feel that some of the best are still to come, now being field-tested. We are participating in the testing of one of the devices and are also involved with another of them. Despite our increasing ability to monitor vine stress, the need for soil moisture monitoring is not reduced by any means. With knowledge of where root activity is occurring and where moisture continues to be available, soil moisture monitoring allows us to apply irrigation later into the growing season. Oftentimes, we've been able to dry farm vineyards previously irrigated. Also, continuous electronic soil moisture monitoring allows us to determine the depth of each irrigation and precisely how many days elapse for vines to extract that moisture. No modelling - just highly repeatable results from irrigation-to-irrigation and from season-to-season.

I gave a presentation recently at the Sonoma County Winegrower's Sustainability Field Day. Check it out by clicking here.

Mark Greenspan

For more information about soil moisture monitoring, contact Mark at or JT at or 707-838-3805.

PG&E Can Help Pay for Irrigation Automation
01 May, 2017

If your irrigation system uses an electric pump or pumps and is connected to a PG&E meter, you may be able to get your vineyard's irrigation system automated with a substantial portion paid by PG&E. PG&E's automated demand response (ADR) program asks that a participating grower's pump be shut off from 1 to 5 hours during the peak demand portion of the day, for about 15 days during the growing season. Growers participating in the program get an initial payment to cover the costs (up to 75%) of an irrigation automation system which, in addition to automated valve control, may include soil and plant moisture, weather, and other monitoring features. Additionally, growers are paid cash or bill credits for each temporary pump control event. Growers are given advanced notice of these temporary downtime events.

This is a great way to get a state-of-the-art irrigation automation and monitoring system installed in your vineyard at a fraction of its cost otherwise. We can help you with design and installation of a wireless system that requires essentially no disruption of your existing infrastructure.

This is an exciting program. Get involved while it is still available! Application is very easy and requires minimal paperwork, with which we can help you. Inquire with Mark ( or JT ( or call us at 707-838-3805. 

Don't let your vineyard go unchecked this season
17 April, 2017

A pest or disease outbreak can be devastating to your growing season, costing you up to a complete loss of crop. Keep an eye on your vineyard for pest and disease outbreaks. If you need assistance with that, we can provide it. Vineyard inspections, either weekly or bi-weekly, throughout the growing season, we will identify the problems when they are still easily treatable. We can potentially save you not only your crop, but your reputation as a wine grower. Talk to us about our pest and disease monitoring and insect trapping services. For more information, contact our PCA, Dan Vyenielo at or call us at 707-838-3805. 

Don't let this happen to you! 


Spring Is Here. It's About Time to Feed Your Soil
03 April, 2017

Springtime ushers in new hope for a great new vintage. As growers, we can only hope. But, we can also be proactive. As the vines wake up, their roots grow and reach out to explore and extract nutrients from the soil. Early-season fertilization will help some vineyards to achieve a full canopy with healthy, functional leaves. But, don't throw on fertilizers without some knowledge of the overall nutrient status of the vineyard, especially with regard to nitrogen. Excessive N fertilization or fertilization with N fertilizers to a vineyard that tends to be vigorous can be counterproductive. Take the advice of a good expert. You know who they are.

Also, consider promoting the microbial diversity of your soils by applying a good-quality compost tea to your vineyard. Compost teas are active cultures of microbes, bacterial and fungal, which aid in the cycling of nutrients in the soil and allow for better uptake of nutrients to the vine. You can brew your own compost tea or call us and we can custom-brew a batch for you and provide it to you fresh for injection through your drip irrigation system. At around $3/gallon, it's an economical and impactful component of your sustainable soil and vine management tool set. For more information, please contact us at or 707-838-3805. 


Free Moisture Monitoring!
09 March, 2017

Well, almost free. The Sonoma (Resource Conservation District) RCD has grant assistance funding available to work with a limited number of grape growers to conduct irrigation system evaluations in conjunction with soil and plant stress monitoring provided by Advanced Viticulture. The RCD is looking for interested candidates in the Mark West Creek, Mill Creek, Petaluma River, and Sonoma Creek watersheds. Please contact us if you are interested in this opportunity. Growers will be asked to contribute only 15% of the cost of the hardware and services.The grant funding will provide the balance of the cost.

A great opportunity to get some valuable insight into your own moisture management practices if you are in one of the watersheds listed. If you are interested, please contact Keith Abeles at Sonoma RCD at or 707-569-1448 extension 112. Or contact us at Advanced Viticulture, or 707-838-3805.

If you are outside these watershed areas, give us a call anyway and we can discuss moisture monitoring and advising services for your vineyard too.

We've Moved!

To accomodate our growing services list and our increasing staff, we've moved our office to a larger space. Our new space has much more room for each of us, a full-size conference space, and a "lab" space where we can configure our field electronics before deployment in the field. We're all very excited!

When Advanced Viticulture started almost 12 years ago, it was just me and a desk in the corner of my bedroom (and an ATV in the garage). Since that time, we've moved three times, increasing our office spaces and enlarging our equipment yard. We look forward to hosting meeting with our clients here.

We're still at the same address; just at a different location within the complex. 930 Shiloh Road, Building 44, Suite E in Windsor (off of Shiloh Road). Hope to see you here soon! 

We Are Now Officially Certified Sustainable!
23 January, 2017

Although we have always considered ourselves to be practitioners of sustainable viticultural practices, we felt it important to become certified sustainable under the California Code of Sustainable Winegrowing, administered by the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance.

Sonoma County wine growers, led by the Sonoma County Winegrape Commission, are well on their way towards their goal of having 100% of their vineyards certified under this program. We are proud to be a part of this community of growers and just as proud to be complying with the California Code of Sustainable Winegrowing. We will continue to evaluate and upgrade our practices under this program. 

We Won an Award!

We're proud to announce that Advanced Viticulture was chosen as the "best" vineyard management company in the North Bay Businiess Journal's Wine Industry Awards ceremony, held on November 30, 2016 in Santa Rosa.

We are grateful to our clients who nominated us for this award and are honored to have received it this time around. Our vineyard manager, Alec Roser and his team have done some great work in vineyard development and management and this award belongs to them. Click here for an article on our company that appeared in the North Bay Business Journal. 

We'll be at the Unified Symposium! Come see us in booth 314, main floor

The Unified Wine and Grape Symposium continues to be the largest wine and grape trade show and symposium in North America. As we have done for numerous years, we will be there on the exhibition floor, ready to greet our friends, colleagues and clients as well as meeting new people. To us, this symposium is the unofficial start of the new vintage.

Come see us to talk to our viticultural team, including Mark Greenspan, our company President and former president of the American Society for Enology and Viticulture. Alec Roser will also be on hand to discuss the art of vineyard development and management.

We continue to sell and support various water management technologies, including soil moisture, plant moisture, weather stations and irrigation control. We've now got some new technologies available and some even newer ones we are now evaluating.

Talk to us about our brewed-to-order compost tea product, to improve your soil's health.

Talk to us about viticultural consulting, for general viticulture, irrigation management and pest monitoring and control.

We'll be in booth 314 on the main floor. We may have some free exhibit hall passes available - contact us if interested. 


Consider Our Pest Monitoring and Advising Services for Next Season
31 October, 2016

We offer state-of-the-art pest and disease scouting services for vineyards. Our scouting service includes WEEKLY vineyard inspections from the beginning of the season through harvest, providing a high-intensity, high-frequency alert system for your vineyard. Don't let disease get ahead of you ever again!

We have two PCAs on staff and we can also provide specific, independent, plant protection recommendations tailored to your vineyard and to the company where you typically buy your materials.

Pricing starts around $50/acre for the whole year and varies depending on site. A great value for your vineyard in obtaining a set of trained eyes on your vines throughout the growing season. Contact us for a no obligation, no pressure quotation. 

Post-harvest is our slow season. Take advantage of it through discounts on moisture monitoring and control technologies!
14 October, 2016

Post-harvest is our slow season. As much as we like reflecting on a great vintage where we helped growers and wineries improve their viticultural practices, installed and managed vineyards, and provided vineyard technology to many growers, we don't really want to slow down, even for a couple of months!

We are offering discounts on our regular prices for many of the vineyard technology products that we represent. That includes Aquacheck soil moisture profile probes. These probes are among the best value in the realm of capacitance probes. Available in 4-sensor and 6-sensor formats, the per-sensor cost is similar to that of individual sensors, but these are integrated and fully-protected units. Available with internal dataloggers or with digital connections to dataloggers or weather station/telemetry devices, they have been essential to our work in vineyard water management.

We continue to work with Ranch Systems, a Novato, California-based manufacturer of communications equipment. Much more than weather stations, these units will connect to the Aquacheck and other soil moisture devices, pressure and flow gauges, pond and tank depth sensors etc. They also can perform irrigation control, which is something most other weather station companies cannot do. New technology allows us to wirelessly connect these devices to a number of Aquacheck wireless soil probes, providing a low-cost way to develop a soil moisture sensor network without buying a bunch of expensive telemetry devices.

Give us a call at 707.838.3805 or email or joe@advancedvit.comto discuss options and to provide you with a no-pressure quote. Discounts are available now through the end of 2016.

Mark Greenspan receives an award for water conservation and travels to Chile to discuss vineyard irrigation management
12 October, 2016

The Russian Riverkeeper Board of Directors and staff have selected Mark Greenspan as the finalist for this year’s Business Water Conservation Award. The award will be presented at this year's River Awards Gala on September 24th.

Mark was chosen because of all his work on vineyard irrigation efficiency and his 2012 Middle Reach Russian River Vineyard Irrigation Demonstration Project that provided valuable information on agronomic rates for irrigation with recycled water. These efforts help achieve one of the most important goals of achieving watershed resilience in the face of Climate Change by reducing water use and assisting with protecting high quality groundwater. 

Mark will be unable to attend the event, and the award will be accepted by one of Mark's associates. To quote Mark: "I would like to thank the Russian River Keepers for this honor. Our approach to precision water management provides for a very efficient use of water resources for wine grape growing. This benefits the grower in lower farming costs; benefits the winery in improved wine quality; and has the added benefit of water conservation. Grapevines are a very water-thrifty crop and we should be happy that they are a part of the landscape of this region."

Mark will be travelling to Chile at that time at the request of some of the Chilean growers. Mark will be speaking to growers on vineyard irrigation management and on state-of-the-art vineyards in the north coast. Mark hopes to gain some knowledge and experience from the Chilean growers and maybe even get a Wine Business Monthly column out of it! 

Dry February - Wet March?: Soil Moisture Update
16 March, 2016

The month of February was quite dry. In our soil moisture example site above (located in the heart of the Russian River Valley), only about 0.9" of rain were recorded during that month, though we are staring at more rainfall now that March has arrived.

The soil moisture content charts (above) include individual levels (8" through 48" at 8" increments) in the lower chart while the upper chart shows average moisture content in the profile (all 6 sensors). We see that, in January, most levels were at saturation with the substantial rainfall that fell then (note how the curves "flat top"). The total/average profile moisture shows a similar pattern during January, where the relative moisture content hovered about 84%. We see how, since January, moisture content had dropped off by the end of February, breaking below saturation at most levels, including 40", though 48" still appears to be at saturation.

The rains in early March brought moisture levels back to saturation, which will then drain off to be at field capacity. There was sufficient rainfall received in just those few days to bring the profile back to full, which is what we hope to have occurred by this time of year.

With budbreak occurring, the dry February does not seem to have had any effect on the moisture conditions to start the season, thanks to the rainfall recently received. So, what will happen now? We'll keep monitoring.

if you want to do similar moisture monitoring, let us know. We have new, low-cost ways to remotely sense soil moisture. Email us or call us at 707-838-3805.

Its not too late to sign up for our custom pest and disease scouting services

The growing season is upon us and with it comes weed and insect pests and diseases. We've crafted a program of intensive monitoring of vineyards, which will involve spatial mapping of problematic pests and diseases, identifying on maps where the problems are occurring, so they can be treated locally and monitored for effectiveness of the corrections.

We can do weekly or bi-weekly scouting of your vineyards. In addition, we can do trap monitoring for important insect pests and vectors, and make specific, unbiased recommendations for control.

This level of scouting and reporting is unprecedented and we are excited to bring it to growers in the region. Starting around $50/acre per year, it is also cost-effective. 

Email Dan, our PCA, or call us at 707-838-3805.

A big step towards sustainability: Moisture monitoring services and irrigation guidance from an expert human viticulturist!

Moisture monitoring of both plant and soil, is essential for bringing out the best in any vineyard. Avoid excessive irrigation, find out if dry-farming is possible, and make a big step towards sustainable viticulture. And don't forget that, with our moisture management services, wine quality is almost always improved without any loss in productivity.

Water is our specialty. We can provide a full season of weekly plant and soil monitoring for as little as $400 per site per season.

We can also provide specific irrigation guidance, from an expert viticulturist, not a computer model!

Email us or call us at 707-838-3805.

We have a new newsletter: Please Subscribe
19 October, 2015

Advanced Viticulture recently sent out its first newsletter. In case you missed it, you can find it here: . The newsletters will offer some viticultural comments, usually from viticulturist Mark Greenspan, Ph.D., some updates on our company and occasional promotions, like the one we are running now on soil moisture probes. We'll be sending these out once per month, so please subscribe if you have not already: Or email us and we will set you up. 

What can you do better next year for your vineyard?
04 September, 2015

This is a great time to review your practices for the season, to see what you did well and what could be improved. Vines show a lot to a trained viticulturist at the end of the season. While our ongoing clients receive specific, proactive advice from us, its not too late to gain knowledge on how you can do things better going forward, maybe even starting this fall. Viticulturist Mark Greenspan can review your irrigation practices, nutrient and fertilization management, pest management, and general viticultural practices. An hour or two can make a huge difference for your vineyard gonig forward and may very well save you money on materials, improve productivity and quality, and help you achieve sustainability. Schedule a season-end checkup soon by calling 707-838-3805 or emailing

Mark Greenspan is appointed President of ASEV
11 August, 2015

Advanced Viticulture's president, Mark Greenspan, has been appointed as President of the American Society for Enology and Viticulture (ASEV), after serving terms as director and 2nd and 1st Vice President. During his one year term as President, Mark hopes to attract more viticulturists and growers to ASEV membership. Mark says, "The ASEV is expanding its activities towards outreach to practitioners in the industry, including industry and outreach seminars at its annual conference, ongoing partnership in the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium and the brand new outreach journal, "Catalyst". This makes the society a fantastic conduit for knowledge from academia to the industry at large. For more information on ASEV membership, please go to

Advanced Viticulture turns 10 years old!
19 April, 2015

On May 1st, Advanced Viticulture celebrates its 1st decade in business. Starting out with Dr. Mark Greenspan as a one-man show, AV has grown to include additional experienced associates in the technical field and has moved with full force into vineyard development and vineyard management services. We are proud of what we do and also proud of the clients we serve. While growing, we remain committed to providing excellent, personalized service to our clients. Tell us happy birthday (no gifts please, it's the thought that counts) and we will extend a $100 discount on any number of Aquacheck soil moisture probes and will also extend discounts on any of the other products we work with, including Ranch Systems. This offer extends through the month of June, 2015. Please call us at 707-838-3805 or email Mark at

Now is the best time to get your soil moisture monitors installed
06 February, 2015

Contact us now. We have $100 off coupons for Aquacheck soil moisture probes. We also are offering discounts on Ranch Systems equipment  through the end of February. And last, but not least, we have NEW low-cost cellular data soil moisture stations. Call us at 707-838-3805 for details or to set up a no-obligation, no-pressure site visit.

Be proactive about vineyard water conservation and save $$ while doing it
17 November, 2014

We want to get more growers using technology for water savings. Face it, You're going to need it. Let us help you save some money. We are offering discounts on all of our equipment from now through the end of 2014. In addition, we can help guide you through the process of the government-sponsored programs that can contribute up to 50% of the cost of these products and their installation and even the consulting that goes into getting you up to speed on implementing and using this technology in your vineyards. Come see us at the Wine Industry Expo on December 4th. We'll be in booth 631. Or contact us at 707-838-3805.

Free moisture monitoring and consulting for the rest of the season
25 July, 2014

The Sonoma County Water Agency is sponsoring FREE soil and vine moisture monitoring by Advanced Viticulture, with weekly emailed commentary by viticulturist Mark Greenspan on irrigation practices. Most slots have been filled, but there is limited space still available. There is no catch, but the vineyard must be in the upper reach of the Russian River Basin (north of Healdsburg) and at least 10 planted acres. Call 707-838-3805 or email mark at to see if there is still room. Hurry!

Mark Greenspan tells growers: "Your irrigation needs are probably less than you think"
27 June, 2014

Mark Greenspan was an invited speaker at the ASEV Water Use Efficiency Symposium, held in Austin, Texas on June 24, 2014, which preceeded their annual conference. He presented on employing current research and technologies to help determine the water needs of the vineyard. Focusing on vine water status measurements and continuous soil moisture measurements, he told the audience that they probably can irrigate their vineyards less than they think they need to, but that measurements are essential to avoid over-stressing their vines. A wealth of other domestic and international experts were on hand at the symposium and an article on the symposium can be found here:

Soils are dry. Should you irrigate?
19 May, 2014

We're seeing dry soils in the upper 12-18" of soil, but most sites have plenty of moisture down deep. Don't guess! Measuring soil and plant moisture has been a game changer for numerous growers. Give it a try. We can rent you equipment if you aren't sure or have a constrained budget. Call us and find out how affordable moisture monitoring can be. 

(707) 838-3805

Water monitoring: effective and inexpensive
07 April, 2014

The adage: "you can't manage it if you don't measure it" is often-used, but is very much true. Measure the water status of your soil and your vines in order to minimize water applications, effectively apply mild stresses (or avoid any stresses) to improve wine quality, and to have quantifiable baselines for future vintages. This does not have to break your budget. Advanced Viticulture can monitor soil and plant moisture status of your vineyard at low cost - as low as a few hundred bucks per site for an entire season. Don't wait another year! Call us and we can show you how easy and affordable moisture measurement can be. 707-838-3805

Watch your well water levels
21 March, 2014

We are getting calls for real-time monitoring of not only pond and tank levels, but also for monitoring well water levels. Water reserves are almost assuredly going to be lower than they have been in a while. While we have a full soil moisture profile to start off the season, how long will that last and how much reserve to you have? As your local reseller for Ranch Systems products, we are able to help you in multiple aspects of water monitoring. And while soil moisture monitoring is our specialty, we can integrate water level monitoring, flow monitoring and irrigation control into the system. Be prepared for what is coming down the pike. Don't wait. Give us a call at 707-838-3805 and we can discuss what is possible.

Moisture profiles are filling in the North Coast!
08 February, 2014

The much-anticipated rainfall has finally reached the north coast and we are watching soil moisture profiles fill to 3 and 4 foot depths at most locations and we expect additional rainfall to occur, further filling soil storage capacity and potentially allowing water movement into streams and reservoirs. The Central Coast remains dry and we hope that they will be blessed by rainfall soon. Whatever the case, and despite the current rainfall, water storgage will likely remain short in all regions. We can help you monitor stored soil moisture reserves and determine precisely if, when irrigation is necessary and how much to irrigate. Don't wait to gain access to this valuable information. We have rental and lease to own plans that will allow you to take advantage of these efficiency-gaining technologies this season while delaying the capital expense for later, or easily making small payments towards ownership of the equipment. This is a perfect time to have us install this equipment in your vineyard. Call us for a no-oblication, no-cost site visit. 707-838-3805.

Drought is official, but don't break the bank to manage water.
26 January, 2014

This may be a VERY challenging year for water management. We're hoping for substantial rainfall going forward, but it looks like a dry year is coming regardless. We have systems to help you manage your vineyard water that are extremely cost-competitive to some of the complicated, and expensive solutions being offered. We have over a quarter century of experience in vineyard water relations and management and can offer thoughtful and cost-effective ways to handle the challenges coming at us. Come see us at the Unified Symposium in booth 644 (main floor) so that we can discuss it with you. You may be surprised at how effectively you can manage vineyard water without breaking the bank.

Drought? Do you know how to manage it?
10 January, 2014

It sure looks like we may be in for a second very dry year, or so the long-term forecasts and recent history tell us. We certainly wish for wetter weather so that our soil profiles can fill up for the upcoming growing season. But that may not happen. What will you do? Water management is our strong suit, so consider our services to help you decide how to manage your vineyard water needs under any conditions - wet or dry. Soil and plant moisture monitoring, irrigation advisory, and other cultural practices support are all offered by Advanced Viticulture to help guide you through the season. Come see us at Dollars and $ense in Santa Rosa and at the Unified Symposium in Sacramento this month. Let us show you our soil moisture monitoring technologies and how we can provide cost-effective solutions for vineyards. A phone call costs you nothing, but doing nothing could be a big mistake! 707-838-3805.

The best of both worlds! We manage vineyards too!
01 December, 2013

Folks continue to be surprised when we tell them that we manage vineyards. Yes, we do! Advanced Viticulture started as a consulting and technology company and we still dedicate ourselves to those areas of service. But, we've been managing vineyards since 2011, marrying our technical expertise with solid, practical knowhow and strict attention to detail. The best of both worlds, our Vineyard Manager, Alec Roser, has a decade of experience. Taking guideance from Viticulturist Mark Greenspan, we feel we have a truly unique offering for our clients. Please contact us to discuss how we can service your vineyard next season. Or, come see us at the Wine Industry Expo in booth 146!

There is no "down time" at Advanced Viticulture
15 November, 2013

Harvest is over, which means the 2014 vintage has begun. AV is still actively working. Mark will be making a presentation at the SITEVI International Exhibition in Monpellier, France. His topic will be irrigation management in California and the use of decision-support technology. This will be a great opportunity to explore new devices, machines and approaches being used in Europe and you can be sure to hear about some of them in his Wine Business Monthly column at some point.

We've also been installing moisture monitoring, irrigation control and weather station equipment in the field. We would be excited to help you build a system that meets your needs and prepares you not only for the upcoming season, but for a future in which water use will be at the forefront of our sustainability efforts, our public relations, and our wine quality improvements. This is a great time to grab tax benefits of new equipment, and catch us before we get busy again with growing vines. Hope to speak with you soon!

Need Vineyard Technology? Now is a great time to act!
04 November, 2013

We hate limited time offeres as much as the next person, but there is good incentive to act right away if you are considering adding technology to your vineyard for irrigation or energy management. The NRCS' EQIP (Environmental Quality Incentives Program) deadline is November 15. Their program will cover nominally 1/2 the costs of your new equipment. Let us know if you are interested and we will connect you with the right person.

The IRS section 179 allows a business to depreciate 100% of the costs of equipment during the year it was purchsed *. That's a huge tax incentive! Current limits are $500,000 for the year, but it is scheduled to drop to only $25,000 in 2014, unless a change is enacted to restore it. Another great incentive to furnish your operation with weather stations, irrigation monitoring, pump control, water level sensors, etc. 

On another note, let us remind you of the optioni to lease (to own) your new equipment. Advanced Viticulture has partnered with Paramount Financial Group to offer leasing packages for Weather Stations, Soil Moisture monitoring, and other vineyard monitoring and control technologies. Leasing provides the means to get your vineyard equipped with state-of-the-art technology without the need for a large outlay of capital. Several packages are available and most have a $1 buyout feature available, so that you will own the eqiupment at the end of the leasing period. The process is seamless and easy. Give us a call or email to inquire about the leasing options and we will guide you through the easy process.

*Talk to your accountant about section 179 - we are not able to give tax advice.

Sonoma County Water Conservation Field Day will Feature Mark Greenspan
08 August, 2013

Register to attend an informational meeting on water conservation research findings and methods taking place in Alexander Valley.

The information presented is from Western SARE grant research projects currently managed by Sonoma County Winegrape Commission in conjunction with Rhonda Smith, UCCE Viticulture Advisor, Mark Greenspan of Advanced Viticulture, and Tom Gore of CWUS/Simi Winery.

Field day will include visits to two sites, where soil pits will be open to discuss issues affecting drip irrigation water percolation in vineyard soils.Discussions about frost protection as well. Lunch will be provided. Please RSVP.


For more information, please contact, (707) 522-5862, or click:


Are you getting behind on your vineyard operations? Let us help.
15 July, 2013

This is the time of year growers seem to get behind: spraying, vine trimming, leaf removal and cluster thinning. Not to mention fertilization. We can help you get your work done on time. Give us a call and we'll see how we might be able to get you caught up. All with our usual strict attention to detail and professionalism. Call us at 707-838-3805!

We're still growing! New vineyard associate
18 June, 2013

We are pleased to announce the addition of John Camastro to our team. John will be performing hand and mechanical tasks in our managed vineyards as well as supervising operations. John has a degre form the University of Washington School of Fisheries with a BS in fishery science. He has been involved with construction and has run his own excavating company prior to joining us. We look forward to having John help us to farm more vineyards with an eye toward attention to detail and true sustainability.

We're growing! New Viticulturist Joins Advanced Viticulture
06 May, 2013

Advanced Viticulture is excited to announce the addition of a new Viticulturist and Soil Scientist to our team: Joe Gallucci. Joe will bring a broad-based technical and practical perspective on viticulture to our company as well as solidifyiing our strengths in soils evaluations and our focus on sustainable viticulture. Joe has a BS in Geology and a Teaching Certificate from State University of New York and dual master's degrees in both Soils/Biogeochemisty and Horticulture/Viticulture from UC Davis. His extensive education is supplemented by practical experience, having held roles as viticulturist, vineyard manager, and winemaker. He has worked on the east and west coasts of the United States and has worked in numerous locations internationally. Needless to say, we are delighted to have Joe with us and believe strongly that he will help us to better serve our existing and future customers.

Winemakers and growers: we're on your side
25 February, 2013

Vineyard consulting and vineyard management taken from the standpoint of what is appropriate for YOU. Our goal is to help you create a product that provides value for you as a grower, you as a winemaker, or you as grower and winemaker. We never rubber stamp anything we do - everything is based on your needs, no matter if you are growing, buying, or both. The only thing constant is our attention to detail and committment to sustainable farming. We can do custom vineyard operations for you this year or manage your vineyard from A to Z. Call us for affordable, yet precise soil and plant moisture monitoring equipment and services. General or specific vineyard improvements? Mark Greenspan, Ph.D., CPAg, CCA, is eager to turn problems into solutions for our clients. No challenge is too great. Try us! 

Look underground for answers
11 February, 2013

Don't forget your vineyard soil. Detailed soils mapping allows us to diagnose issues in the vineyard and offer site-specific recommendations to correct problems and improve uniformity of maturation. Soils mapping provides detailed information and prescriptions for vineyard plantings and replant efforts. And soil moisture monitoring provides precise control of vine water status and provides for efficient water management, sometimes indicating no need for irrigation at all! New telemetry options are now becoming available, so talk to us about various options. Mark Greenspan, Ph.D., CPAg, CCA is eager to "get the word out" about how easy it is to realize immediate improvements to vineyards.

From Consulting to Vineyard Management - We do it all
27 January, 2013

The only vineyard management company with a built-in full-time, Ph.D.-level, ASA-certified vineyard consultant! ** We prefer not to think of us as vineyard "managers", but as a vineyard care organization. We take pride in all of our vineyard and winery clients, whether we're on hand for vineyard advice or operations, vineyard design or installation. Combining technical expertise with attention to detail, we are eager to work with clients who take pride in their product. Let us help you craft your vineyard. Please visit us at the Unified Wine and Grape Symposium (booth 939) to see what we're up to. Let us show you the tried and true best way to manage vineyard water needs and I'll bet we can improve upon your current practices. Hope to see you there!

** to our knowledge; at least in our region

Come see us at the Wine Industry Expo Booth 162
04 December, 2012

Please come talk with us. This is an important time in our business and we probably can help you out. Think water quality and conservation, nutrient management, vineyard management and vineyard installations. We have some new things to show you as well.

Thank you for visiting us at the Napa Vit. Fair
06 November, 2012

We had some great discussions about general vineyard improvement, vineyard development and management, moisture monitoring and vine nutrition at the Napa Valley Vit Fair this week. We focus on all aspects of sustainable wine growing with an emphasis on detail. Thanks for stopping by!

Take advantage of our slow season to get ready for next year's vineyard moisture management
11 September, 2012

November through February are relatively slow months for us, and we generally get inundated with requests for soil moisture monitoring equipment in early spring. Help us to alleviate the backlong in spring and keep us busy during the winter. In return, we will reward you with 50% off of installation costs and package discounts on soil moisture monitoring equipment. We have hundreds of these soil monitoring systems in the ground and growers have completely changed their irrigation approach, often saving half of the water they had been applying prior to using them, while improving wine quality and vine health at the same time. Initial consultation and quotes are at no charge and with no sales pressure. Let us prove to you that your vineyard operation will benefit from these devices and save money at the same time!

Vineyard operations getting behind? We can help you get caught up.
24 May, 2012

Vineyard operations:Advanced Viticulture offers vineyard operations services. Call on us for custom operations, such as spraying, mid-row and in-row cultivation, mowing and vine trimming. We are a licensed pest control business and can help you get through the difficult period of disease management. We've recently added more equipment to expand our offerings. We operate witth efficiency, safety and sustainability in mind.

Moisture management knowledge services:Some other vendors may sell you equipment to monitor soil and plant moisture, but may leave you alone to figure out how to actually USE the equipment. We sell soil and plant moisture monitoring equipment, but we also use the instruments in our own practice. We will get you started with the training necessary to fully utilize the power gained from monitoring soil and plant moisture status. We are busy installing soil moisture probes right now in the north and central coast regions, with clients excited about their potential to guide them in moisture management. Call us to find out how cost-effective, yet impactful these devices can be for you. We've also experienced growing interest in the leaf porometer, which provides meaningful information as to the physiological stress on the vine, and allows us to guide water management towards achieving the balance between excessive and insufficient vine stress. Call us to discuss at 707-838-3805, or contact us at

Access soil information from UC's Oakville Research Station:A 48 inch, 6-sensor Aquacheck soil moisture probe with Advanced Viticulture's cellular telemetry module was donated to UC's Oakville Research Station. The unit was installed during the latter part of the summer in 2011 and will be used to monitor root zone soil water content on a continuous basis to provide repeatable, precision irrigation applications. There are plans to monitor other aspects of vine moisture status, with collaboration from the station's manager, Mike Anderson. Anderson says "I am looking forward to working with Mark and this equipment in conjunction with other advanced measurement technologies to develop ways to control vine water status and eventually automate the irrigation process". The block where the equipment is installed is Cabernet Sauvignon on 101-14 rootstock. Free access is available to all by logging onto the portal via . Click on the "My Account" button and use the following login criteria: Property: UCOES Username: avdu Password: avd

Please come see us at the Napa Wine + Grape Expo on November 16th
26 October, 2011

Please come see Advanced Viticulture at the Napa Wine + Grape Expo on November 16, 2011 at the Napa Airport. We'll be in booth B8. We will be there to discuss soil and plant moisture monitoring, general viticultural consulting and vineyard management services. We look forward to seeing you there!

Reduce your water footprint now while getting your vines into balance. Mark Greenspan will discuss methods of precision water management and irrigation at two seminars this Fall. A free webinar will be conducted online in conjunction with Ranch Systems on November 11, 2011 at 11:11 am (that's a lot of elevenses!). The free webinar will discuss soil-moisture methods for irrigation scheduling and will review some case studies from the 2011 season. Click HERE to register for the free webinar. Mark will also be speaking about vineayrd water management tools at the Napa County Water Conservation Workshop on December 1, 2011, which will be held in Yountville. Details forthcoming. Also, Mark will speak about practical uses of agricultural lab results to soil and plant analytical personnel at the Laboratory Analysis Workshop in Modesto on November 8th.

Advanced Viticulture and Ranch Systems announce a new solution for soil moisture management and control. Partnering with AquaCheck Soil Moisture Management, Advanced Viticulture is packaging one or two soil moisture probes with a cellular-based data node as a stand-alone automated data collector. Data telemetry and management is powered by Ranch Systems, LLC's technology. Professional installaion is available. The focus on these automated soil moisture management systems is on irrigation and water management, but the equipment may be configured with other weather station devices as well. For more information, please contact Advanced Viticulture at 707-838-3805 or

February, 2011:Advanced Viticulture is excited to announce the addition of Alec Roser to our staff. Alec brings years of experience in vineyard development and management to our company. He has developed premium vineyards throughout California. Alec will serve our clients in a technical viticulture capacity and will also enable us to expand our offerings into management of vineyards.

January, 2011:Teaming with Meristem Technologies, Advanced Viticulture will be making real-time data available to clients via Advanced Vit's web site. The web portal will provide water status, soil moisture, observational reports, and other viticultural information to clients. Map-based as well!

Components of service packages may be selected based on client's needs and budget. Pricing may be structured in the form of monthly service fees with no hourly constraints, as hourly service rates, or combinations thereof.

Soil moisture monitoring equipment may be leased on its own or in conjunction with monitoring services. No capital up front!

On a tight budget right now? Ask about a-la-carte services!


" We're pleased to have had the opportunity to work with Advanced Viticulture for the last 3 years. Mark and his team have rapidly exercised our technology in the field and provided us an authoritative assessment of feature strengths and relevance. "
- ScanControl, Inc., ScanControl, Inc.
Title Name Email Phone
Dr. Mark Greenspan 707-838-3805

Technology Partners

Advanced Viticulture, with its viticultural and technical knowlege, brings value-added services to these companies' offerings. Partnerships include:

AquaCheck Soil Moisture Management - There are many soil moisture sensor manufacturers out there, and we have identified Aquacheck as being among the most reliable and affordable devices on the market. Building on capacitance technology, Aquacheck manufactures probes with 4 or 6 sensors built into a sealed unit, to provide sensitive and reliable soil moisture information for years. Advanced Viticulture is an authorized reseller and installer and we specialize in the installation of these devices even in tough, rocky soils.

Ranch SystemsWe have enjoyed a partnership with Ranch Systems longer than any other company. Headquartered in Novato, California, Ranch Systems manufactures weather stations and wireless vineyard control systems. They can monitor soil moisture (connection to Aquacheck and other probes), irrigation system status, water depth, and local weather, while providing irrigation system automation for vineyards and other farms. Advanced Viticulture is an authorized reseller and installer, supporting all applications, and specializing in water management and control technologies.

Davis Instruments- Based in Hayward, California, they are a manufacturer of weather station instruments and have been in business for over 50 years. Their new Enviromonitor system combines weather stations with other monitoring capabilities, not the least of which is connectivity to the Aquacheck soil moisture probes. Their system is very low cost and the online user interface is simple and clear. Advanced Viticulture is an authorized reseller and installer for Davis Instruments.

WiseConn- Based in Chile, but with local offices in California, they manufacture wireless telemetry and control devices, specializing in wireless irrigation system control under their DropControl brand. They integrate soil moisture, valve and pump control, fertigation control and weather data into a sophisticated, but easy-to-use online control portal. Advanced Viticulture is an authorized reseller and installer for DropControl products.

Trimble (formerly STI)A technology provider, and this relationship is focused on soil-based spatial technologies (SIS) to create high-resolution spatial maps of soil properties. Advanced Viticulture is a reseller for this technology.

Decagon Devices - Soil moisture monitoring and Plant water status measurement. The Leaf Porometer remains the favorite plant-based moisture measurement tool. Advanced Viticulture is a Distributor of their products in Northern California.

Working with Advanced Viticulture provides the following benefits:

Partnering with several different vendors means that we will find the best solution for your situation and budget. We will not try to shoehorn you into a single solution. We will be available to help you integrate the technology into your operation, if desired. No pressure and no additional cost for equipment purchases. Equipment rental available for some equipment.



Advanced Viticulture is proud of and gracious for the comments made by some of our clients:

"Mark is an important part of our team because he consistently produces results. His all around knowledge of climate, soil and viticulture has been invaluable to us. Especially at our most challenging sites."
Mike Benziger, Benziger Family Winery, Glen Ellen, CA

"We have been working with Advanced Viticulture, LLC for five years. We began working with Mark because we needed advice to bring our vineyard to a higher level of fruit quality and solve special plant/soil nutrient issues. We have found that Mark's advice on vine nutrition, plant moisture management and trellising has enabled us to improve the fruit quality to the level we were seeking. What we value most in our work with Mark is his deep and rigorous knowledge of viticulture research literature as well as his unique knowledge of the relationship between viticulture practices and results in the vineyard. It continues to amaze me how Mark can ride through the vineyards and visually identify plant nutrient issues and plant moisture status. He is a strong proponent of using detailed scientific data on plants to confirm visual observation of plant nutrition issues which is a practice that we now regard highly."
Donald Hofer, Kiler Canyon Vineyards, Paso Robles, CA

"Advanced Viticulture has added value in making recommendations for operations that have resulted in improved vineyard health and increased production of high quality fruit.
Bruce Conzelman, Conzelman Vineyards, Anderson Valley, CA

"I have had the pleasure of collaborating with Mark Greenspan, Ph.D over the years on numerous projects addressing different issues. In each situation his insights, advice and open-mindedness served us well. I would have no hesitation recommending his services and look forward to our ongoing collaborations."
Alan York, International Advisor on Biodynamic Winegrowing

Advanced Viticulture has supplemented our company's technical viticulture effort for the last three years. Specifically, Advanced Viticulture has helped us with staff training, technology investigations, and viticulture research projects. Advanced Viticulture helps insure that Walsh will stay sharp and continue to provide excellent service to clients.

Towle Merritt, Viticulturist, Walsh Vineyards Management