Grafting in Pence Ranch Vineyard: Gamay & Chardonnay

In the Vineyard: to Graft or Not to Graft?

Written by Blair Pence

‘Tis the question that the team at Pence Ranch has been asking ourselves over the last several months. What do we wish we had a little more of in the ground? What small tweaks in the vineyard could we do that would add value to our program? What else do we think our clay-based site is best suited for?

With only 6 acres of Chardonnay, and yet 30 acres of Pinot Noir, we decided that more Chardonnay was a natural choice because we are so enamored with the style of wine that our region produces. In our 2013 whites, we are already seeing a beautiful, fresh lemon-citrus, racy and nervy style of wine develop. When put into the hands of a winemaker like Sashi Moorman, who understands how to coax all the flavors from the grape while also preserving restraint, Chardonnays are magical and have tons of energy. These grafted 3 acres are a selection massale of various cuttings including Wente, Clone 4, 76, 96 and 548. While these 3 acres are much needed, this will certainly not be our last plantings of this varietal.

We have also decided to graft one acre of Pinot Noir to Gamay. Yes, Gamay, as in the grape that heralds from Beaujolais in France. Consistently one of the most unsung heroes of the red vinous world, Gamay makes very aromatic, pretty, soulful and highly drinkable wines. With excellent provenance coming from the original US plantings of Gamay at Seven Springs Vineyard in Oregon, our cuttings should yield a healthy crop and one that will work very well into our estate program.

The good news about these small changes is that with successful grafts (see photos below) happening now in the field, we should be able to see one ton or more of fruit this year! We cannot wait for the results!!