Behind the Scenes

Soil Mapping Video: Precision Farming with Resistivity Technology

We’ve nearly completed a comprehensive soil mapping study of every Jordan estate vineyard block. What does that mean? We’re rediscovering our dirt to continue elevating grape quality.

When I started working at Jordan in 2008, I asked Winemaker Rob Davis how I could work in the vineyards to help him achieve his winemaking goals. He explained how he would like to see our vineyards have more uniform quality and consistency of fruit. Rob makes winemaking decisions by taste–and for decades, he’d walk down a vineyard row and find a handful of vines with clusters that didn’t have the flavor profile he desired–the flavors he could taste in grapes sometimes a foot away. I wanted to provide him a window to the soil that would help us understand how our estate grapes in a single block could taste so dramatically different.

He was very open to suggestions and the latest technology available, so we embarked on soil mapping in 2009. Essentially, we are reclassifying our vineyard blocks by soil type, texture and water-holding capacity. We enlisted a soil scientist, Bryan Rahn of Coastal Viticultural Consultants, to assist us in this ever-evolving discovery of our soil diversity: six hillside and three valley floor soil profiles can be found on the estate. Soil pits have been dug and resistivity analyses completed. It’s been eye opening to see that a single vineyard block we farmed a certain way 10 years ago actually could be farmed as three individual blocks. It’s been equally exciting to use the study findings to become better precision farmers and assist the winemaking team with their goals. Vineyard rows are now micro-farmed according to differences in soil type and texture. Irrigation, cover crops, leaf thinning and other farming practices change within a single acre and even within a single row. The 30 vineyard blocks of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot on the estate will be further divided into roughly 90 blocks before the end of the year.

This vine-by-vine farming approach allows us to fully optimize the multicolored quilt of soils on which our grapevines are planted. These precision farming practices help the vines adapt so that uniformity of flavors occur in the grapes even though their soils are so different. Our fruit must deliver consistent bright fruit, silky tannins and a long, lingering memory that John and Rob desire in Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon. With soil mapping and precision farming, we can taste the results with every new vintage.

Watch our related video on farming from an airplane.

Also, the chart used in the video to determine soil type is a Munsell chart.

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Ron Saikowski

How do your soils mappings corespond with the SCS Soils Maps that the County Ag Agent has in his possession?


We’re rushing to pick the last of the grapes this week. I’ll have to get back to you once Brent and Dana slow down.
Thanks for your patience.


Thanks for good stuff


how are you!This was a really magnificentsuper blog!
I come from milan, I was luck to search your website in yahoo
Also I get a lot in your blog really thanks very much i will come daily


Grazie mille. I’m very glad you’re enjoying our videos. Ciao, caro!


This is a good blog message, I will keep the post in my mind. If you can add more video and pictures can be much better. Because they help much clear understanding. 🙂 thanks Derichardson.

Jeffery M Morgan

It is indeed very important that we understand our soil so that we will know what to do with it. Plant the right crops that fit perfectly for the soil condition. But technology has gone wild of late and we are seeing machines to do enormous agricultural works with just a little human intervention. AI and machine learning in agriculture has really advance so much. This may not replace humans in the farm but this can threaten the manual farmers and manual agriculture minds.


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Brent Young

A 2005 harvest intern who returned to Jordan full-time as viticulturist in 2008. Now Director of Agricultural Operations in charge of estate vineyards, precision farming and cattle. Spends free time showing cutting horses and restoring vintage cars, especially Woodies.

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