If you were to start a business, family, or plan a trip around the world you would most differently put some pre thought into it would you not? I mean doing anything on a whim might seem exciting but the consequences can be disastrous. Yet many of our planted vines over the last 100 years have been in the wrong place, on the wrong raw material. And the simple truth is with out great raw material there could be no great wines. The same can be said for great food, great cloths, great music, and great movies. So why would any one plant in the wrong place, or in the right place with the wrong material is beyond me. It is simply put a huge waste of resources unless your looking for the aesthetic value only.
To understand all of this let’s deal locally since that’s where I write from live and make my living. There was at one time this mad rush to plant grapes in our central coast with very little forethought to what where or how? Yes, Pinot planted in land where in was 100 degrees most of the time. Cabernet close to the coast and every other varietal you can imagine. People planted to the wine grape they liked not what would work best! Then there was vineyard spacing, vineyard facing, root stock selection and clones. Ground prep, farming practices and the list goes on. If you plant in deep soils, fertile soils with vigorous root stocks then you get Big Tonnage, but do you get great wine? The practices of ground cover, native or un-native plants and grasses between the rows to compete for nutrition helps. However a vine is like an engine and if given the proper fuel will produce even with the competition.
In my opinion we have gotten way to far into the science of lest resistance. We have planted so called disease resistant Root Stock’s and have taken away any measure of pureness. I understand the great capital out lay of putting in a Vineyard, so on many levels I understand the desire to protect against such things. It is a matter of fact however that all insects, and diseases mutate and no one is absolutely safe. I believe that going back to planting on own root is the answer ultimately. The Central Coast has vines that exceed 40 years of age that were planted in this manner. They are producing just fine and have little in the way of problems. Many so called Resistant Root Stocks have failed in the mean time. If given half a chance the vine becomes strong building up it’s immune system just as yours and mine. They become more resistant by becoming stronger.
The benefits are more then just healthy vines, they are better wines. Because an own root clone 667 is a pure 667 plant. The root stock has a direct effect on the flavor’s of the cluster and in turn the wine. Is it risky, well maybe but we have been told time and again of the virtues of root stocks just to replant prematurely. I say the proof is already in the ground and so yes I think worth the risk. The end results could be startling! You need the best ingredients to make a wine, the wine is made in the vineyard that simple. So if I were to choose I say give me the purity of an uninhibited plant, grown in an organic or bio dynamic way. This I believe produces the best of what we can achieve. In the end you will certainly know wether you like the 667, 777, 115 clone because you will be tasting it as it should be. And if you take the care you will plant it in a cool climate, with shallow soil’s protected against frost, and an overabundance of wind. You will plant densely and face the proper way. You will water, however you will not add chemicals unless you have no choice. You will farm so the grapes are at a lower position to the ground, you will manage your canopy and you will reduce crop by thinning appropriately. Who knows maybe you will be successful and return us to where we started, with out the science and let nature take it’s course. In all due respect to U.C. Davis it seemed to work for centuries with out interference and trying to tweak what Mother Nature had perfected.
Not much chance of many changing there course but hey opinions aside it’s nice to dream,