By: Naty Barak- Netafim Chief Sustainability Officer
As a much younger man, I had the pleasure of representing Netafim in the United States in the early 1980’s. One of our flagship products at the time was the Pressure Compensated dripper which helped to establish Netafim in the American market. Our first sales were in 1981 to the vineyards in California.
This was the first Pressure Compensated dripper invented and developed by Rafi Mehudar. Introduced into the market in 1978 it was unique in its uniformity, dependability and self cleaning mechanism.
Wine growers soon heard about the secret and we developed the business in California, Washington etc. It also enabled growers in the NapaValley to expand to the foothills. The regulation effect of the Dripper allowed them to grow on the slopes owing to the unique quality of pressure compensation
The dripper quickly became known as the PC. Of course, nowadays this has quite a different connotation, but then Personal Computers or Politically Correct were not in our everyday lexicon.
The name was quickly adopted and remains until today.
I was recently on vacation in the Napa Valley of California, visiting this most beautiful part of the USA. The memories came flooding back to when we started marketing drip irrigation in the States. As the saying goes ‘you can take the man out of Netafim, but you can’t take Netafim out of the man’, and I found myself not only stopping to admire the spectacular vineyards but also ‘checking out’ what forms of irrigation they were using.
I was more than pleasantly surprised to find that the majority were still using our PC drippers.
I stopped by a local information center and obtained a map of the wineries in the area. Many years have now passed, but one name jumped out of the map. Hagafen Cellars, located on the Silverado Trail in the heart of the Napa Valley, California’s premier wine region.
I knew them very well and decided to give them a call. Ernie Weir, the owner and operator remembered me and we spent a very pleasant time talking over old times, when I had sold him the PC dripper.
The Hagafen Cellars is still run with a combination of professionalism and passion. Since 1980, their wines have been served on numerous occasions at the White House to visiting dignitaries,
Ernie believes in interfering as little as possible with their well drained soil, which is ideal for the growth and production of ripe and rich, intensely fruity small lot estate wines, in order to create a balance that minimizes the chemical and erosion impact.
Helped, of course by the PC dripper, which has since become a truly global phenomenon.
Our experience in PC drippers for crops grown on slopes and terraces is now being utilized worldwide in many other types of crops. In an effort to battle the challenges of food security, sustainability and arable land availability, we may see pressure compensated drip enabling farmers to grow rice on slopes….