Friday, January 20, 2012

Historic Vineyards in the Sierra Foothills Wine Region

Photo courtesy of Scherrer Vineyard/HVS website

Hats off to Jon Bonne, the San Francisco Chronicle’s wine editor, who in his January 19, 2012 column, “5 things about wine to focus on in 2012”, brought about some much needed awareness about the old historic vineyards that have provided so much wonderful wine over the years.
Bonne wrote: “How about due praise for long-proven plantings that are getting respect beyond the usual "old vines" claptrap? Take a look through the list of sites cataloged by the Historic Vineyard Society (historicvine - parcels that have stood the test of time. … these sites provide base material for enterprising winemakers who value the long view. Many have survived decades of neglect to finally earn decent farming and consideration as the treasures they are. Amid a pioneering spirit, it's worth taking a page or two from the past.”
Read the whole article

So exactly what is an historic vineyard? According to the Historic Vineyard Society, in order to be verified as an historic vineyards and included in their official registry, the vineyard must meet these criteria:

• A currently producing California wine vineyard
• Original planting date no later than 1960
• At least 1/3 of existing producing vines can be traced back to original planting date

From The HVS (Historic Vineyard Society) itself is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of California’s historic vineyards. HVS’s Mission is accomplished through educating the wine-drinking public on the very special nature of this precious and depleting state, national and global resource. Its 501 C-3 status is pending. You can learn more on its website. If you
click HERE, you'll go to the registry list for the whole state.

I've culled through the list so you can see where the historic vineyards in the Sierra Foothills are located. I know that there are many more not yet on the site... for example, I think that Skinner Vineyards might have a few that qualify... but here is the list so far.

I really like the site because it notes the vineyard, the AVA, who is currently producing wine from that vineyard, and the decade in which the vineyard was established. A full listing can be seen for those vineyards which have been through the registration process (which is pretty simple,
click HERE to see the form) is really very interesting, even for a somewhat-viticulturally-uninformed-person such as myself. Those vineyards who have jumped through the hoops of registration to date are Deaver Vineyard (Mission), Deaver Vineyard (Zinfandel) and Rinaldi Vineyard; all are in Amador County.

The listing below is alphabetical by the name of the Vineyard.

Aparicio Vineyard ~ AVA: Amador ~ Current Producers: Rosenblum ~ Decade:1930's

Baldinelli (Dickson) ~ AVA: Amador ~ Current Producers: Easton, Terre Rouge ~ Decade:1920's

Boeger Vineyard ~ AVA: El Dorado ~ Current Producers: Boeger ~ Decade: (not listed)

Dal Porto Vineyard ~ AVA: Amador ~ Current Producers: (not listed) ~ Decade:1920's

Deaver Vineyard (Mission) ~ AVA: Amador, Shenandoah Valley ~ Current Producers: Swanson ~ Decade:1850's

Deaver Vineyard (Zinfandel) ~ AVA: Amador, Shenandoah Valley ~ Current Producers: Bogle, Deaver ~ Decade:1920's

Esola Vineyard ~ AVA: Amador ~ Current Producers: Amador Foothill, Ridge ~ Decade:1910's

Fox Creek ~ AVA: Amador ~ Current Producers: Jack Rabbit Flat/Renwood, Windwalker ~ Decade:1930's

Ghiradelli Vineyard ~ AVA: Calaveras ~ Current Producers: Millaire ~ Decade:1900's

Grandpere ~ AVA: Amador ~ Current Producers: CG DiAire, Macchia, Vino Noceto ~ Decade:1900's

Lubenko Vineyard ~ AVA: Amador ~ Current Producers: Shenandoah, Sobon ~ Decade:1910's

Massoni Vineyard ~ AVA: Amador ~ Current Producers: Runquist ~ Decade:1910's

Picnic Hill ~ AVA: Amador ~ Current Producers: Story, Turley ~ Decade:1910's

Rinaldi Vineyard ~ AVA: Amador, Fiddletown ~ Current Producers: Renwood, Terre Rouge/Easton , Rombauer ~ Decade:1870's

Story “Mission” Vineyard ~ AVA: Amador ~ Current Producers: Story ~ Decade:1910's

T. C. Vineyard ~ AVA: Amador ~ Current Producers: (not listed) ~ Decade:1910's

Upton ~ AVA: Amador ~ Current Producers: Karly ~ Decade:1920's

I took a look at the
detailed listing for Rinaldi and loved the additional information:Rinaldi VineyardCounty: Amador County
AVA: Fiddletown, California
Current Owner: Gino Rinaldi
Name of grower who first planted vines (if known): Cox

Vineyard Location (nearest major road intersection): Ostrom and Jibbom Street, Fiddletown (20751 Ostrom Road, Fiddletown, California 95629)

Which wineries produce from the pre-1950s section of the vineyard today: Rombauer and Easton Wines

Historical producers and dates (if known): Ridge, Santino/Renwood, Karly, Amador Foothill

Taste characteristics: Full flavor, spice, great acidity and balance. Finesse.
Block: Original
Year Planted: 1865
Variety Composition (Variety by approximate %): 95% Zinfandel; also Mission, White Muscat, Black Muscat, etc
Acres: 38 remaining
Spacing: 10 x 10
Soil Composition (Geology if known): Sierra Series (decomposed granite)
Elevation (feet): 1600- 1800 feet

Notes and interesting facts on vineyard blocks (block-specific producers, etc.): Vineyard was revitalized in 2000. there are various blocks at different ages since the 1950’s. 1865 planting might still have an acre of living vines. South- facing vineyard. Remaining vines in the 38 acre original block are 100 plus years old. The total vineyard and ranch parcel is 82 acres. The grapes are contracted to two clients; Rombauer and Terre Rouge & Easton Wines. Head-trained; largely dry-farmed. Replanting was done with selections from existing vines.

NOTE FROM BARBARA:  If you are the owner of an historical vineyard, do register it. This is a great resource to the wine lover who wants to reach beyond the bottle and enjoy the full wine region experience! To register your vineyard,
click HERE to see the form.

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