Written by Nancy L. Sweet, FPS Historian, University of California, Davis -
© 2018 Regents of the University of California
The Black Grapes of Bordeaux
The principal black wine grapes of Bordeaux are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec/Cot. All five varieties are used in Bordeaux blends in various proportions. Carmenère was cultivated in the region until the latter half of the 19th century but is now more closely associated with Chile.
Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are the dominant wine grapes of the region. Although Cabernet Sauvignon is considered the pre-eminent grape of Bordeaux, Merlot is more widely planted. By the 18th century, Cabernet Sauvignon had become well-established on the west side of the Gironde Estuary (the "Left Bank") in the gravel-based soils of the Médoc and Graves. Merlot preferred the limestone and clay-based soils on the east side ("Right Bank") of the Gironde Estuary.
It is not surprising that Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet franc and Merlot work together so effectively in Bordeaux blends given their genetic relationship. Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot share the same male parent, Cabernet franc. A typical "Bordeaux blend" recipe for the Médoc might consist predominantly of Cabernet Sauvignon (with lesser amounts of Merlot and Cabernet franc), while Merlot would dominate a blend from St.-Émilion or Pomerol in the Right Bank (with Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet franc in lesser proportions). 1 Robinson, Jancis, Julia Harding, and José Vouillamoz, WINE GRAPES (HarperCollins Publishers, New York, NY, 2012), at pp. 160-168; Robinson, Jancis, Oxford Companion to Wine (3rd ed., Oxford University Press, London, England, 2006), at p. 90
In the United States, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Malbec are made into varietal wines as well as blends. Since the 1980's, traditional black grapes from Bordeaux (including Carmenère) have been used in experimental wines called "Meritage" blends when less than 75% of any one variety is included in the blend. 2 Sullivan, Charles L., A Companion to California Wine (University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles, California, 1998), at p. 211.
The black grapes of Bordeaux have large presence in the FPS foundation grapevine collection. This chapter describes the FPS Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet franc, Petit Verdot and Carmenère selections. Malbec/Cot has evolved a significant presence in Argentina and has resurged in recent years as a varietal wine; a separate chapter for Malbec/Cot (see Chapter 8) contains the full story of the variety's history in both Bordeaux and Argentina.
French ampelographer Pierre Galet referred to the Cabernet Sauvignon grape as "the greatest of the noble French grape varieties". 3 Galet, Pierre, Grape Varieties and Rootstock Varieties, Oenoplurimedia sarl. Chaintré, France, 1998, p. 67. High quality wine has been produced from the Cabernet Sauvignon grape for more than 300 years in France. The popularity that the variety has enjoyed in the United States for the past thirty years shows no sign of abating. A 2014 report from Chicago market research firm IRi indicates off-premises wine sales of the #2 grape Cabernet Sauvignon (second to Chardonnay) totaled $1.39 billion, which amounted to an increase from a 7% growth rate in 2012-13 to a 10% growth rate in 2013-2014. 4 Gordon, Jim, ''Chardonnay at No. 1, While Cabernet Gains'', Wines & Vines, September 2014, p. 11.
The Bordeaux region of southwest France is most likely the birth place of the Cabernet Sauvignon grape. Three rivers - the Garonne, Dordogne and Gironde - mark the Gironde Estuary where red wine grapes have reputedly been grown since the Bordeaux region was part of the Roman Empire. The Dutch drained the marshy terrain of the Médoc on the west side of the Gironde Estuary in the mid-17th century, creating conditions under which premium red wine grapes would thrive in that area. The warm climate, short winters, humid Gulf Stream currents and prevailing westerly winds favored the vines planted on the Medocain estates, primarily in the last third of the 17th century. An old Bordeaux saying is: the best wines come from vines that can see the rivers that lead out to the ocean. 5 Robinson et al., supra, WINE GRAPES, 2012, at pp. 160-163; George M. Taber,Judgment of Paris: California vs. France and the Historic 1976 Paris Tasting that Revolutionized Wine (Scribner, Avenue of the Americas, New York, 2005), pp. 20-21.
There are few specific details on the origin of the Cabernet Sauvignon grape. Two of the known Vitis vinifera varieties growing in Bordeaux in the 18th century were Cabernet franc and Sauvignon blanc. "Sauvignon" is thought to be derived from the French word "sauvage", meaning "wild". Literature from the time indicates that Cabernet franc was extensively planted and used for wine-making long prior to any reference to Cabernet Sauvignon. 6 Bowers, John E. & Carole P. Meredith, ''The parentage of a classic wine grape, Cabernet Sauvignon'', Nature Genetics, vol. 16, May 1997, pp. 84-87.
At the end of the 20th century, UC Davis scientists Carole Meredith and John Bowers solved the mystery of the parentage using DNA fingerprinting technology that proved that Cabernet Sauvignon was the progeny of an unexpected crossing of the Bordeaux cultivars, Cabernet franc and Sauvignon blanc. The scientists concluded that the cross must have been spontaneous because there was no known grape breeding activity conducted in Bordeaux at the time. 7 Bowers & Meredith, 1997, supra.
Several qualities associated with Cabernet Sauvignon became apparent to grape growers and wine makers as they began to develop the variety into a premier Bordeaux wine.
Cabernet Sauvignon thrives in a warm climate moderated by a cooling marine influence. The variety ripens in a long vegetative cycle requiring many hours of warm sunlight and heat days in Mediterranean climates. Warm temperatures during the day in the growing season are critical to successful ripening. The average daily high temperature in August in Bordeaux is 79-80°F. Cabernet Sauvignon is grown in moderately warm regions in California, such as the Napa Valley, Lodi in the northern San Joaquin Valley, and areas in Sonoma and San Luis Obispo Counties.
The variety is a "late budder and late ripener" that can be grown in cooler climates with less risk of damage from spring frost because of late bud break. Cabernet Sauvignon ripens so late that a cool, cloudy late summer can seriously affect ripening. Additionally, cooler climates bring out an herbaceous aroma in the grape, and overly warm climates prevent the grape from developing its normal varietal character. 8 Robinson, 2006, supra; ENTAV-INRA-ENSAM-ONIVINS,Catalogue of Selected Wine Grape Varieties and Clones Cultivated in France (Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, CTPS, 1995), p. 49. The crop may need to be thinned significantly at veraison to eliminate later-ripening fruit. 9 Wine Grape Varieties in California, University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources, Publication 3419, eds. L. Peter Christensen, Nick K. Dokoozlian, M. Andrew Walker, and James A. Wolpert, 2003, p. 37.
Aroma and bitterness
Cabernet Sauvignon produces distinctive small black berries covered with bloom, making them look like blueberries. The berries ripen slowly, are less sensitive to the time of harvest, and can endure a long hang time. They adhere firmly to the pedicels. Thick skins are characterized by a highly astringent flavor, high tannin, acidity, and dark color.
Wine produced from the berries usually needs aging or blending to reduce or soften the bitterness. 10 Galet,supra, at pp. 68-69. The grape juice possesses a deep color and a high level of phenolics that produce wine with much structure and pungent aroma and flavors after extensive aging in barrel or bottle. Cabernet Sauvignon wine can age for over a century without losing structure. It is said that the variety has a special affinity for oak, which softens the bitterness. Subtle fruit flavor compounds, fermentation, alcohol and oak work on the wine as it ages. 11 Robinson et al., WINE GRAPES, 2012, supra at p. 164; Galet, supra. Wine expert Jancis Robinson described the aging process for Cabernet Sauvignon as the "wine slowly making itself". 12 Robinson, 2006, supra.
In spring, 1988, wine writer Gerald Asher attended a tasting of Château Margaux wines for fifty vintages from the two-hundred-year period between 1771 and 1984. The blend used in the 1771, 1791, 1847 and 1848 premier grand cru vintages was 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, and 2% each Cabernet franc and Petit Verdot. Asher was struck by the "youthful purity of color, bouquet and flavor" of the 18th century wines (1771, 1791), made by men living at the time of the American and French Revolutions. 13 Asher, Gerald, ''Château Margaux: Time Recaptured'', The Pleasures of Wine: Selected Essays, (Chronicle Books LLC, San Francisco, California, 2002), p. 63.
In contrast, the Margaux wines from Bordeaux's "Golden Age" (late 1840's to 1875) had deepened in color and changed in fragrance due to the change from Baltic to French oak for the aging process. The Margaux wines' incredible longevity underscores the observation that wine from Cabernet Sauvignon grapes can accommodate a long period of aging.
Pre-Prohibition in California
The Cabernet Sauvignon grape came to California during Bordeaux's Golden Age. Early Cabernet Sauvignon plantings in the state provided the basis for many of the Cabernet Sauvignon selections currently in the FPS collection.
The grapes from the Gironde ("Bordeaux or Claret Type") were among the varieties brought in the earliest importations to the state. 14 Paparelli, L. and E.W. Hilgard, Report of the Viticultural Work during the seasons 1887-1889, with data regarding the Vintage of 1890. Part I. Red-Wine Grapes, Report of the Regents of the University, University of California, 1892, p. 31. The first documented instance of importation of Cabernet Sauvignon to California occurred in 1852, when Antoine Delmas, a French nurserymen, brought French vines (including "Cabrunet", "Medoc" and "Merleau") to the Santa Clara Valley. 15 Sullivan, Charles L., Zinfandel, A History of a Grape and its Wine (University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA, 2003), p. 27; Lynn Alley, Deborah Golino, and Andrew Walker, ''Retrospective on California Grapevine Materials'', Part I, Wines & Vines 81 (11): 148-152 (November, 2000). Cabernet Sauvignon was growing in vineyards in the Santa Clara Valley in 1857-1858. 16 Sullivan, Charles L., ''Cabernet Sauvignon: Past, Present, Future'', Variety Focus: Cabernet Sauvignon Symposium, University of California, Davis, May 15, 2008; the proceedings may be viewed on the FPS website at, http://fps.ucdavis.edu/Grapes/Variety Focus Presentations; Thomas Pinney, A History of Wine in America, From the Beginning to Prohibition, vol. I (University of California Press, Berkeley, Los Angeles and London, 1989), pp. 263-265.
Specific information is scarce regarding importation of Bordeaux varieties into the northern Bay Area in the 1850's. Some believe that Agoston Haraszthy imported the variety into the Napa/Sonoma area from his trip to Europe in 1861. There was an entry on his list for "Carbinet" but that collection was not well documented nor well preserved. 17 Goheen, A.C., ''Cabernet Sauvignon Sources in California'', unpublished paper on file at Foundation Plant Services, undated; Chas. A. Wetmore, Report of the Commissioner at large, First Annual Report to the Board of State Viticultural Commissioners, 1881, p. 48 Glen Ellen's Captain J.H. Drummond planted the first significant Bordeaux vineyard, including Cabernet Sauvignon, in the North Coast in Sonoma County in 1878. H.W. Crabb brought Cabernet Sauvignon to his vineyards in Napa at about the same time. 18 Sullivan, Charles L., Napa Wine: A History from Mission Days to Present, (2d ed., Napa Valley Wine Library Association, South San Francisco, California, 2008), p. 87.
In his 1881 report as Commissioner at large to the Board of State Viticultural Commissioners, Charles Wetmore noted the deficiency in plantings of claret varieties in Napa and Sonoma vineyards which he believed nearest approached those of Bordeaux. He wrote: "The Carbenet Sauvignon and the Malbec have been too long ignored". 19 Wetmore, Charles A., Report of the Commissioner at large, First Annual Report to the Board of State Viticultural Commissioners, 1881, pp. 48-55. In his "Ampelography" (included in Wetmore's 1884 report as Chief Viticultural Officer to the same board), Wetmore reported that Cabernet Sauvignon was present in California in experimental lots only. 20 Wetmore, C.A., ''Ampelography'', Part V, Second Annual Report of the Chief Executive Viticultural Officer to the Board of State Viticultural Commissioners, for the years 1882-1884, pp. 103-151, 127.
By the mid-1880's, Cabernet Sauvignon was established in Sonoma, Napa and Santa Clara counties. The late 1880's saw a dramatic increase in California in the planting of Bordeaux varieties, which were made into wines then called "clarets" or "Médoc blends". 21 Alley, Lynn, Deborah Golino, Andrew Walker, Wines & Vines 81(11), supra, at p.149. Wetmore himself imported Bordeaux varieties (including Cabernet Sauvignon) for his Cresta Blanca vineyard in Livermore, Alameda County, prior to 1884. 22 Wetmore, ''Ampelography'', 1884, supra, at p. 127. By 1891, however, Cabernet Sauvignon plantings had become rare due to phylloxera that decimated California vineyards. 23 Walker, M. Andrew, ''UC Davis' Role in Improving Californiaâ€™s Grape Planting Materials'', Proceedings of the ASEV 50th Anniversary Annual Meeting, Seattle, WA, 2000, p. 211.
Cabernet Sauvignon was tested extensively in California by UC scientists E.W. Hilgard and Frederic Bioletti. The variety had success in coastal plantings. Hilgard recognized that the variety suffered from low yields and slow aging but also appreciated the distinctive aroma and flavor. He recommended Cabernet Sauvignon for California winegrowers for its flavor and balance and advised blending for wines with more rapid maturity. 24 Ough, C.S. and C.J. Alley, ''An Evaluation of Some Cabernet Varieties'', Wines and Vines, May 1966, page 23.
In 1907, Bioletti reported on the differences in suitable grapes for the interior valleys and coastal counties in California. In a precursor to the university's later Winkler zone approach, he developed a regional approach for winegrowing in California based on an 1883 study done in France. 25 Walker, 2000, supra. Bioletti acknowledged that the finest wines produced in California to that time were the product of Cabernet Sauvignon but noted that growers consistently rejected the variety almost everywhere due to low yields. He ultimately recommended Cabernet Sauvignon for the coastal counties with the caveat that it not be planted in rich valley soils. 26 Bioletti, F.T., ''The best wine grapes for California'', Calif. Exp.Sta.Bul. 193: 141-145 (1907).
Many of the California vineyards with red Bordeaux varieties were not maintained during Prohibition because there was no commercial value in most of them, except for a few wineries such as Concannon that made altar wines. Cabernet Sauvignon was not a variety sold to home winemakers on the East Coast during Prohibition. By the end of the era in 1933, the estimated acreage of Cabernet Sauvignon in California was down to about 200 acres, mostly in Napa. 27 Sullivan, Variety Focus: Cabernet Sauvignon, UC Davis, 2008, supra.
Post-Repeal University Evaluations
In a 1934 University of California publication assessing desirable varieties for wine making in California, Bioletti again addressed the suitability of Cabernet Sauvignon plantings. He found that the variety "had merit" but was "not largely planted". He wrote:
Notwithstanding Bioletti's comments, Cabernet Sauvignon was one of the first varieties to be chosen for evaluation when the University of California reinstated its campaign for improved wine varieties at UC Davis in 1935. 29 Olmo, H.P., ''Early Work on Clonal Selection in California Vineyards'', unpublished paper on file at Foundation Plant Services at UC Davis, undated. In a 1964 article for Wines & Vines magazine, Harold Olmo reviewed the clonal evaluation and selection process that he initiated at the university. He searched the oldest vineyards in the north state for "outstanding individual vines for uniformity to type, healthfulness and high yield". The vines were observed for several years, and select buds were harvested and planted into new plots, usually at the university's Oakville Experiment Station vineyard.
Crops from the new plantings were measured each year; for Cabernet Sauvignon alone, 960 vines were harvested and weighed separately. The variety produced about 4.7 tons per acre at Oakville by 1964. 30 Ough, C.S. and C.J. Alley, ''An Evaluation of Some Cabernet Varieties'', Wines & Vines 47: 23-25 (1966). From the 40 original Cabernet Sauvingon vines, several were selected as being much superior to the others. Unfortunately, Olmo did not identify those he called "superior", although the Kunde/Oakville clone was among them. Fifteen consecutive years of records were developed but are not published. 31 Olmo, Harold P., ''Improvements in Grape Varieties'', Wines & Vines 45(2): 23-25 (1964).
Olmo wrote the following in 1964 about the Cabernet Sauvignon selections that were identified as superior to the rest:
Olmo's findings were supported by other faculty members at UC Davis. In the comprehensive update of University recommendations for wine grape varieties in California published in 1944, Maynard Amerine and Albert Winkler recommended Cabernet Sauvignon, as a "very good quality grape" for planting in Winkler regions I, II and III (climates with a coastal influence). Amerine and Winkler concluded that Cabernet Sauvignon wines of the Napa and Sonoma Valleys had the most color and generally aged into superior wines that are long lived. 33 Amerine, M.A. and A.J. Winkler, ''Composition and quality of must and wines of California grapes'',Hilgardia 15: 493-673 (1944); C.S. Ough and C.J. Alley, ''Cabernet-type grapes and wines from the coastal regions of California'', Department of Viticulture & Enology, University of California, Davis, unpublished and undated paper on file at Foundation Plant Services, UC Davis. Pierre Galet placed Bordeaux, France in Winkler region I using the Winkler standards. 34 Galet, Pierre, General Viticulture (Oenoplurimedia sarl, Chaintré, France, 2000), p. 210.
The University research led to the conclusions that Cabernet Sauvignon vines produced low yields with high tannins and that the wine was slow to age. Winkler and Amerine studied Post-World War II trials and concluded that Cabernet Sauvignon's distinctive aroma was the main basis of the wine's high quality. The recommendation from the university in the mid-1960's noted that Cabernet Sauvignon was the "variety of choice for red table wines" in Winkler climate regions I and II (cooler climates). 35 Amerine and Winkler, ''California Wine Grapes: Composition and Quality of their Musts and Wines'', California Agr. Exp.Sta. Bul. 794 (1963); Ough and Alley, Wines & Vines, 1966, supra.
Cabernet Sauvignon Acreage
Cabernet Sauvignon is planted in every state that can ripen it in the United States. Eastern Washington State had a significant planting of 10,300 acres in 2011. However, the most dominant producer of the wine with the greatest acreage is the State of California. 36 Robinson et al., 2012, supra, at p. 167; Washington Vineyard Acreage Report 2011, p. 6, USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, Olympia, WA (2011).
In a 1954 Grape Day talk, Harold Olmo exhibited a table of acreage statistics for the principal wine grape varieties in California; Cabernet Sauvignon was not mentioned by name but was included among "other black grape varieties". 37 Olmo, H.P., ''Our Principal Wine Grape Varieties â€“ Present and Future'', Am,J.Enol.Vitic. 5: 18-20 (1954). In a 1957 handout for one of Olmo's classes in the Department of Viticulture & Enology, the 1956 California acreage for Cabernet Sauvignon in California was estimated at 700 acres. 38 Olmo, H.P., ''Black Wine Varieties in California'', Viticulture 105, University of California, Davis (1957).
Albert Winkler surveyed the premium quality wine grape varieties being grown in the coastal counties (Winkler regions I-III) in 1964. He found a continuous increase in grape plantings from the 1950's to 1963. Cabernet Sauvignon acreage increased 133% in the coastal region during that time period, to a total of 1,417 acres by 1963, which was third for red wine grapes after Zinfandel and Petite Sirah. By the time the 1973 Stag's Leap Wine Cellars' Cabernet Sauvignon prevailed over wines from some of the oldest Bordeaux chateaux in a blind tasting at the Judgment of Paris in 1976, Cabernet Sauvignon acreage in California had increased to 27,000 acres, the third highest acreage for red wine varieties after Zinfandel and Carignane. 39 California Grape Acreage 1976, California Crop and Livestock Reporting Service, USDA and CDFA, Sacramento, California; A.J. Winkler, ''Varietal Wine Grapes in the Central Coast Counties of California'', Amer. J. Vit. & Enol. 15: 204 (1964).
Starting in the mid-1990's, Cabernet Sauvignon experienced the greatest growth of all major wine grape varieties in California for the ensuing 15-year period. 40 Volpe, R., R. Green, D. Heien, and R Howitt, Recent Trends in the California Wine Grape Industry, Giannini Foundation of Agricultural Economics, University of California (2008). Wine historian Charles Sullivan commented that, by 2004, the valley and uplands north of Napa City had become "Cabernet country" in consumers' and wine writers' minds. 41 Sullivan, Napa Wine, 2008, supra, at p. 380.
In 2017, Cabernet Sauvignon was by far the largest red wine grape crop in the state and was second only to Chardonnay in total acreage planted. Cabernet Sauvignon total acreage in 2017 was 91,834 acres, twice the amount of the second-place finisher Zinfandel (45,304). 42 California Grape Acreage Report, 2017 Summary, page 5 of 6, California Department of Food & Agriculture, cooperating with the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service, Sacramento, California, published April 19, 2018, www.nass.usda.gov/ca.
Early FPS Cabernet Sauvignon Selections
Foundation Plant Services released its first registered Cabernet Sauvignon selection in 1965. There are more than 65 public and proprietary Cabernet Sauvignon selections in the FPS catalogue in 2018. http://fps.ucdavis.edu/fgrdetails.cfm?varietyid=356
The source of many of the FPS selections is not always clear. Records of wine grapes planted at the University and its field stations were not well kept during Prohibition, and the early plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon at Davis are not easily traced.
The UC Cabernet Sauvignon selections were originally made in commercial vineyards in the Livermore and Napa Valleys and in older experimental plantings, such as the Foothill Experiment Station. Austin Goheen wrote: "the best selections seem to be those made from early importations to California, which were found growing commercially in the coastal valleys at the time that our program started. These probably were imported directly from France sometime between 1880 and 1900." 43 Goheen, unpublished and undated, supra.
Cabernet Sauvignon 02 is known as the "Oakville selection" as it came to FPS from UC's Oakville Experiment Station in the Napa Valley. Harold Olmo selected and developed FPS 02. The history of the selection in California began in the 1880's.
Capt. John H. Drummond was a Scotsman who resigned his commission in a British infantry regiment and, in 1878, purchased a portion of the Rancho Los Guilicos Estate near Glen Ellen in Sonoma County. Documents from the time show that Drummond imported Cabernet Sauvignon cuttings from Châteaux Margaux and Lafitte Rothschild and the Hermitage in Bordeaux, France, and planted those and other varieties in 150 acres of his new Dunfillan Vineyard property. 44 Peninou, Ernest P., History of the Sonoma Viticultural District, vol. 1 (Nomis Press, Santa Rosa, California,1998); Frona Eunice Wait, Wines & Vines of California (Howell-North Books, Berkeley, California, first published 1889, reissued 1973), pp. 140-143. Charles Sullivan characterizes the planting as "the first plot of useful Bordeaux vines in the North Coast". 45 Sullivan,Napa Wine, 2008, supra, at p. 136.
In his "Ampelography" attached to the 2nd Annual Report to the Board of State Viticultural Commissioners (1882-1884), President Charles Wetmore reported that an 1882 Cabernet Sauvignon varietal made by Drummond was "more admired at the last State Viticultural Convention than any other on exhibition". 46 Wetmore, ''Ampelography'', supra, at p. 127. The Dunfillan vineyard was regarded as one of the finest vineyards in the country. Drummond also had a nursery in Sonoma and made cuttings available to grape growers and wine makers in the area. Capt. Drummond died in 1889, and the property was sold and renamed Beltane Ranch. For a time, the property was no longer used as a vineyard because the vines were diseased and yields were low. 47 Peninou, supra.
James A. Shaw was an Australian who came to Sonoma in 1850. In 1867, he purchased Rancho Los Guilicos acreage adjacent to and northwest of the property that later became Dunfillan Vineyards and named it Wildwood Vineyards and Winery. By 1885, there were reports of a vineyard planted to fine vinifera varieties (including Cabernet Sauvignon) at Wildwood Vineyards. 48 Peninou, supra.
A land title book (1887-1904) in possession of the Kunde family in 1972 stated that John Drummond sold a portion of the Dunfillan property to his contemporary and neighbor James Shaw in 1887. 49 See Gail Unzelman, Sonoma County Wineries (Arcadia Publishing, 2006). Shaw was forced to replant the original vineyard with resistant stock in the 1890's when the original Wildwood Vineyard succumbed to phylloxera.
In 1904, a German immigrant named Louis Kunde purchased the Wildwood Vineyards and Winery that had previously belonged to James Shaw. 50 Peninou, supra. The "Kunde Estate" home page explains that the Kunde Estate vineyards were first planted in the 19th century by viticultural pioneers Shaw and Drummond with imported cuttings from Châteaux Margaux and Lafite Rothschild. www.kunde.com The ruins of the stone winery at Dunfillan are still located on the Kunde property.
Harold Olmo began a clonal evaluation and selection program when he arrived at UC Davis in 1934. The first Cabernet Sauvignon vines identified by Olmo in 1939 for his clonal development program were from Charles Kunde's Wildwood Vineyard in Glen Ellen, Sonoma County. 51 Olmo, Harold P.,Plant Genetics and New Grape Varieties, interview conducted by Ruth Teiser on April 8, 1973, California Wine Industry Oral History Project, Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley (1976), pp. 92-94. Frederic Bioletti, whose step-father-in-law, was Capt. John Drummond, had tasted highly acclaimed wines from that vineyard in 1915 at San Francisco at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition and recommended the vines to Olmo for his clonal evaluation. The vines had survived Prohibition because the Kunde estate operated as a dairy during that time. 52 Letter dated February 22, 1994, from H.P. Olmo to Rick Aldine, Stag's Leap Wine Cellars, Napa, on file in the Olmo collection D-280, box 78: 53, Department of Special Collections, Shields Library, UC Davis.
In a statement for the California Wine Industry Oral History Project, Olmo spoke about those original Cabernet Sauvignon selections:
One of the first vineyards to work cooperatively with the University on progeny tests of the Wildwood Cabernet Sauvignon selections was Larkmead Vineyards, owned by the Salmina family in Napa County. Olmo established the first clonal selection trial with Cabernet Sauvignon in Elmer Salmina's new vineyard on Larkmead Lane in Napa and budded vines there with the Wildwood Cabernet Sauvignon selections in 1939. 54 See fn 51. The best clones were selected after five to eight years of yield and wine tests for a second selection phase at the University field station at Oakville. Oakville is an American Viticultural Area (AVA) in Napa Valley and is widely regarded as one of the top AVAs in California for the production of quality wine grapes, particularly red Bordeaux varieties.
The outstanding clones for yield and wine quality were budded onto rootstock at the Oakville station (Old Federal Vineyard) in 1958. The clones again underwent a closely-controlled and replicated test cycle, after which five superior clones were selected. 55 Olmo, H. P., undated paper, supra. The coded names of those clones were 205-6, 215-9, 223-16, 235-15, and 221-12. During the planting boom of the 1970's, most of the new Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards in the North Coast obtained scion wood from the Oakville block. The selections were known as the "Oakville clones". One of those clones was Cabernet Sauvignon FPS 02 (Oakville row 11 v1). 56 Letter dated February 22, 1994, Olmo to Aldine, supra.
Cabernet Sauvignon 02 was presented to FPS sometime prior to 1963. The "Oakville selection" tested negative for all diseases and was released in 1965 without undergoing treatment. Cabernet Sauvignon 02 was the first Cabernet Sauvignon selection to appear on the list of registered vines for the California Grapevine Registration & Certification Program (R&C Program).
There are few reports of clonal evaluations for wine grapes in California prior to 1995. Many of the Cabernet Sauvignon clones that became part of the FPS collection by the 1990's, including Cabernet Sauvignon 02, were subjected to clonal trials conducted by the University and industry. Cabernet Sauvignon 02 consistently produced moderate yields (∼8.0 - 12 kg/vine) in the University trials from the 1970's through the 1990's. 57 Wolpert, J.A., A.N. Kasimatis, and P.S. Verdegaal, ''Viticultural Perfomance of Seven Cabernet Sauvignon Clones in the Northern San Joaquin Valley, California'', Am.J. Enol. Vitic. 46 (4): 437-441 (1995); P.A. Bowen and W.M. Kliewer, ''Influence of Clonal Variation, Pruning Severity, and Cane Structure on Yield Component Development in 'Cabernet Sauvignon' Grapevines'', J. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci. 115 (4): 530-534 (1990); C.J. Alley, ''An update on clone research in California'', Wines & Vines 58(4): 31-32 (1977). The researchers in a Lake County trial saw "lower yields and lighter clusters" with this selection and concluded that it (along with FPS 06) produced riper fruit with better acidity and more favorable pH results. 58 McGourty, Glenn T., Rachel Elkins, Steve Tylicki, and Jim Nosera, ''An Evaluation of 7 Cabernet Sauvignon Clones in Lake County'', Study for the Lake County Wine Grape Commission (2001). The report was not published but can be viewed on the Mendocino County website at http://cemendocino.ucdavis.edu/files/5356.pdf.
Plant material began to move from Europe to the Americas in the 16th century, when commercial vineyards were first established in Mendoza, Argentina's most important wine-growing province. Three Cabernet Sauvignon selections - Cabernet Sauvignon 03, 04 and 05 - were imported to Davis in 1964 from Mendoza. Susan Nelson-Kluk later served as Grape Program Manager at FPS and recalls that Austin Goheen said that he believed that grape plant material obtained from South America was less likely to be infected with virus. Goheen reasoned that the South American countries obtained their scion varieties from Europe prior to the phylloxera epidemic in Europe and prior to viruses becoming widespread in the European materials.
Cabernet Sauvignon 04 and 05 arrived labelled incorrectly as "Merlot clones 11 and 12". No treatment was required for either selection. They were later properly identified and appeared for the first time in 1966 on the list of registered vines. In the Lake County Cabernet Sauvignon trial, selection 04 had the highest average yield, one of the highest average cluster weights and the highest number of clusters per vine.
Cabernet Sauvignon 03 appeared on the list of registered vines from 1966 through 1979. It was removed from the foundation vineyard and list of registered vines because it tested positive for leafroll virus in 1979.
Foothill Experiment Station
Cabernet Sauvignon 06 is known as the "Jackson" selection because it was collected from the former University of California Foothill Experiment Station in Jackson, Amador County.
Eugene Hilgard established the University Experiment Station system in the late 1880's. One of those stations was the Sierra Foothill Experiment Station located in Amador County near Jackson, California. [A detailed history of the early experiment stations is contained in Chapter 1]. In March, 1889, Hilgard took Cabernet Sauvignon cuttings from the vineyard at the Central Station at Berkeley and planted them in Block G (G8 v1-10) of the Sierra Foothill Station. The Sierra Foothill station was abandoned by the University of California in 1903, but the vineyards were not removed.
USDA scientist Austin Goheen, a plant pathologist who managed the disease testing program at FPS at the time, rediscovered the old vineyards in the Sierra Foothill Experiment Station in 1963 and brought cuttings from many of the old vines to FPS. The Foothill Station vineyard had never suffered from phylloxera, so the "own rooted" vines were phylloxera-free. 59 Alley, Golino, and Walker, 2001, supra.
In 1964, Goheen selected cuttings from a Cabernet Sauvignon vine located at position G8v10 in the old Experiment Station vineyard. Notes obtained from a manuscript notebook maintained by the vineyard manager at the Foothill Station in 1889 indicated that the vine at position G8 had come from Berkeley. But no further source information is available. Former UC Extension Specialist Amand Kasimatis recalls that Goheen selected the Cabernet Sauvignon plant material because it was a fruitful vine that appeared to be free of disease.
[Author's note: There was a second Cabernet Sauvignon vine in Block L of the old Foothill Experiment Station vineyard. That vine originated from the Cupertino Experiment Station, which was a two-acre plot donated to the University in 1883 by grower and winemaker John T. Doyle. Hilgard and Doyle experimented with premium varieties on that property. The vine in Block L at the Foothill Experiment Station came from the Cupertino Station in 1890. The FPS records are clear that FPS 06 was taken from the vine in Block G, not from Block L, of the Foothill Station. At least one source has erroneously attributed the origin of FPS 06 to the vine in Block L].
The Cabernet Sauvignon plant material from Block G at the Foothill Station became Cabernet Sauvignon 06. Cabernet Sauvignon 06 qualified for the foundation vineyard in 1969.
Cabernet Sauvignon 06 was included in almost every early clonal trial of the variety. In the University trials of the 1970's through 1990's, selection 06 consistently produced low yields, fewest berries per cluster, and lightest cluster weights relative to the other selections. 60 See fn 57.
Industry experiments reached similar results. A trial at Mondavi in Napa beginning in 1989 concluded that FPS 06 was the most distinctive selection, with crop and cluster weight significantly lower than those for the other five selections. The low cluster weight figure was primarily attributed to fewer berries per cluster, almost half that of the highest yielders FPS 07 and 10. Almost all the variation in yield was due to differences in cluster weight. A trial at Beaulieu affirmed the low cluster weights for selection 06. 61 Williams, D. and A. Bledsoe, ''Evaluation of Six Registered Clones of Cabernet Sauvignon'', Proceedings of the International Symposium on Clonal Selection, American Society for Enology & Viticulture, Portland, Oregon, June 1995, pp. 159-163(Mondavi trial); Joel Aiken, Anthony Bell, Graciela Hansen and Thomas Selfridge, ''Comparison of Fourteen Selections of Cabernet Sauvignon'', Proceedings of the International Symposium on Clonal Selection, American Society for Enology & Viticulture, Portland, Oregon, June 1995, pp. 81-83 (Beaulieu trial).
The Lake County trial concluded that FPS 06 had a significantly lower average vine yield and cluster weight, followed by FPS 02. FPS 06 had the fewest number of clusters per vine. Cabernet Sauvignon 02 and 06 received the most favorable reviews for riper fruit, better acidity and more favorable pH levels.
Cabernet Sauvignon 07, 08 and 11 originated from the same source vine at Concannon Vineyards in Livermore, California. The Concannon selections have been distributed widely from FPS and California grapevine nurseries and formed the backbone of California Cabernet Sauvignon plantings in the 1970's and 1980's.
There is no explicit documentary trail tracing the Concannon Cabernet Sauvignon vines back to a particular vineyard in France. However, the facts that do exist allow for a solid inference that the Concannon clones originated from one of the important château vineyards in Bordeaux.
James Concannon emigrated from Ireland to Boston, Massachussetts, in June, 1865. After moving west to San Francisco, he purchased 47 acres of an old ranch in Livermore in 1883 and began planting vines and making wine. Concannon was inspired by the suggestion of Archbishop Alemany of Mission Dolores, San Francisco, to produce sacramental wine for the Catholic Church. The Archbishop told Concannon that the soils in the southern Livermore Valley had the same rocky, gravelly character as parts of Bordeaux. Concannon travelled to France in 1883 to learn about plant material, vineyards and winemaking. 62 Jim Concannon with Tim Patterson, Concannon: the First One Hundred and Twenty-Five Years, pp. 4-5, 9-10, Andy Katz Photography, Healdsburg, California (2006).
Charles Wetmore, Chief Executive Viticultural Officer of the Board of State Viticultural Commissioners, was concerned that existing California vineyards in the 1880's did not have adequate plantings of high quality Bordeaux grape varieties. He was the first in the Livermore Valley to set out an extensive vineyard devoted to the finest French and German grapes. Wetmore travelled to France in 1882, where he visited various well-known châteaux to collect better grapevine varieties for California. It is well-documented that he visited Château d'Yquem (with a letter of introduction from Mrs. Louis Mel) where he obtained cuttings of the white Sauternes varieties that later appeared in the Livermore vineyards.
A 1937 Wines & Vines article about "Cresta Blanca Souvenir Wines" reported that Wetmore also obtained red varieties from the Château Margaux vineyard in the Médoc on that same trip. 63 ''Cresta Blanca Souvenir Wines'', Wines & Vines, 18(3), p. 6 (March, 1937). Presumably, those "red varieties" included the dominant Bordeaux variety Cabernet Sauvignon, since ChÃ¢teau Margaux attained first growth status in the Bordeaux Classification of 1855.
Wetmore began the planting of his Livermore vineyards in 1882. He wrote in his "Ampelography" in 1884 that he was growing Cabernet Sauvignon at Cresta Blanca by that time. 64 Wetmore, ''Ampelography'', 1884, supra, at p. 127. Many sources report that Wetmore shared the cuttings he imported from France with his neighbors in Livermore, including James Concannon.
Charles Wetmore had a brother named Clarence J. Wetmore, who was also associated with the Board of State Viticultural Commissioners. Clarence Wetmore started his own vineyard in the Livermore Valley in 1881. In 1892, Clarence organized a group of partners that assumed control of Cresta Blanca from his brother Charles. Clarence and James Concannon were known to collaborate in importing quality grapevine material from France.
Ten years after planting his vineyard in Livermore, James Concannon was faced with replanting much of his vineyard due to phylloxera damage. He consulted with UC experts Hilgard and Bioletti and travelled to France in 1893 in search of healthy plant material and additional information about vineyards and winemaking. James Concannon's great-grandson, John Concannon, possesses a passenger record dated August, 1893, that shows James travelled to Europe that year.
John Concannon believes that the Concannon Cabernet Sauvignon vines could very well have come from Château Margaux as a result of his great-grandfather's trip to Europe in 1893. The 1893 harvest at Château Margaux was the largest crop ever recorded and produced a "remarkable wine". Concannon likens the original Concannon Cabernet vines to the Margaux vines in that the Concannon vines have always looked healthy, have never needed treatment for disease and have consistently produced good yields.
An article from the December, 1944, Spirits magazine suggests that James Concannon imported grapevine material from France for his vineyard. James' son Joe Concannon was interviewed for the article and stated that his father James and Clarence Wetmore got in touch with the Montpellier Nurseries of France at the suggestion of their Livermore neighbor, Louis Mel. They imported cuttings of the "best white varieties"...and "some black varieties from the Château Lafite and Château Margeaux [sic.] vineyards". 65 ''Concannon'', from 1944 Dec. Spirits, Wine Institute Archives, San Francisco, 2000.
Correspondence currently in possession of the Concannon family confirms the association between James Concannon and Clarence Wetmore and their importations via Montpellier Nurseries. A 1904 letter from a grapevine supplier in Royan, France, a port city located at the mouth of the Gironde Estuary north of the city of Bordeaux, offered special prices to Concannon for grapevine cuttings, including Cabernet Sauvignon. The supplier advised that Concannon would be well served to continue working with C.J. Wetmore [Clarence] as agent for transmittal of the supplier's plant material to the Concannon vineyard. 66 Letter from James Concannon to author dated April 14, 2008; Letter from Paul Gros Gendre & Co. to James Concannon dated April 23, 1904.
The Concannon Cabernet vines were not lost during Prohibition. Concannon Vineyards was able to survive the Prohibition era because they were active in preparing altar wines for the Catholic Church and other denominations.
The University of California became interested in Concannon clonal material in the 1960's. In 1965, Curtis Alley, manager of then-named Foundation Plant Materials Service, harvested cuttings from vine 2 in row 34 of the Concannon Cabernet Sauvignon block. Harold Olmo reported to James Concannon in a 1991 letter that the "[Concannon selections] have been widely planted and have given high yields of very good wine quality". 67 Letter from Harold P. Olmo to James Concannon, dated September, 1991.
The Concannon clones at FPS consist of three separate selections from the same vine source (Cabernet Sauvignon 07, 08, and 11). The three selections underwent heat treatment therapy for varying lengths of time. Cabernet Sauvignon 07 underwent heat treatment for 62 days. Alley initially assigned superclone #101 to the selection, but it was later renamed FPS 07. The selection qualified for the foundation block in June 1967.
[For a discussion of the meaning of a "superclone" designation, see Chapter 4 on the early years at FPMS].
Cabernet Sauvignon 08 (initially labelled superclone #102) underwent heat treatment for 168 days. The current FPS 08 foundation planting is a sub-clone of that original cutting that arrived at FPS in 1965. The original cuttings were propagated into several locations at FPS in the late 1960's and early 1970's. FPS 08 was planted in the Foundation Vineyard in blocks J (1970) and K (1972). Cuttings were made and also planted in the Tyree Vineyard (MO2 v28-29) in 1975, where the vines obtained full foundation stock status, even though the Tyree vineyard was a teaching vineyard at UC Davis. FPS 08 first appeared on the list of registered vines in 1971.
The current FPS 08 foundation planting is a sub-clone of that original cutting that arrived at In 1992, FPS began testing the foundation vineyard for leafroll virus using the newly-developed ELISA technology. All of the Cabernet Sauvignon 08 plants in Foundation Vineyard blocks J and K tested positive for Grapevine leafroll associated virus-3. However, the FPS 08 vines from the Tyree vineyard tested negative. The Tyree vines were subsequently fully re-indexed and were designated as a "subclone" of the original material sent to FPS. The healthy Tyree FPS 08 vines were propagated for planting in the new Brooks North foundation block. The decision was made to retain the selection name Cabernet Sauvignon 08 for this popular FPS clone. Nurseries that had received FPS 08 plant material prior to 1992 were instructed to remove or retest their vines.
Cabernet Sauvignon 11 came to FPS from Concannon in 1965 and underwent heat treatment for 168 days. It was planted in the West Armstrong vineyard and underwent indexing in 1970-71. Cuttings were taken for propagation into the foundation vineyard in 1972. FPS 11 appeared for the first time as a registered vine in 1974.
One of the three FPS Concannon clones is included in every clonal trial that evaluates California Cabernet Sauvignon selections. Cabernet Sauvignon 08 consistently produced higher yields than other selections in the early University trials and the Lake County trial. According to Jim Wolpert, former Specialist in Cooperative Extension in the Department of Viticulture & Enology at UC Davis, FPS 08 is a high-yielding, late-maturing selection. 68 Wolpert et al., 1995, supra. A more recent trial conducted by UC Extension Specialists near Fresno, California, also found that Cabernet Sauvignon 08 produced high yields, due to large clusters attributable to large berries. 69 Fidelibus, Matthew, Peter Christensen, Donald Katayama, and Pierre-Thibaut Verdenal, ''Yield components and fruit composition of six 'Cabernet Sauvignon' grapevine selections in the Central San Joaquin Valley, California'', Journal of American Pomological Society 60(1): 32-36 (2006).
Cabernet Sauvignon 07 had the highest cluster and crop weight of the six selections in the Mondavi trial. A 4-year study of 17 FPS Cabernet Sauvignon selections published in 1991 led to the conclusion that varying lengths of heat therapy on the same plant material had no bearing on crop yield or yield components. 70 Bledsoe, A.M., ''Performance of 17 different selections of Cabernet Sauvignon'', presented at the 42nd Annual Meeting of the American Society for Enology and Viticulture, Seattle, WA (June 1991). Therefore, it was not surprising that FPS 07 should perform in the same relative position as did FPS 08 in terms of higher yields.
Neustadt an der Weinstrasse is a market town in the wine-making region of the Rhineland-Palatinate area of Germany. Cabernet Sauvignon 10 came to Davis in 1959 from the State Teaching & Research Institute for Viticulture & Horticulture in Neustadt, Germany. Although the grapevine material was sent from the facility at Neustadt, the vine from which the cuttings were taken was never part of a clonal development program at the research institute.
The selection underwent heat treatment for 148 days at FPS and first appeared on the list of registered vines in 1973. Cabernet Sauvignon 10 was put on hold status at FPS for a brief time in 2009 due to a positive result for virus. The hold was removed in 2015 after subsequent testing.
Seven FPS Cabernet Sauvignon selections - Cabernet Sauvignon 12, 13, 14, 19, 20, 21, and 54 (formerly FPS 15) - were propagated from a single vine source in Chile in 1971.
In the 1880's, Chilean politician and businessman Don Melchor Concha y Toro imported noble French grapevines (including Cabernet Sauvignon) from the Bordeaux region of France to Chile. He planted vineyards throughout the country, including in the Cachapoal Valley near the coastal mountain range. Chile had not been affected by the phylloxera epidemic that destroyed grapevines in other parts of the world. Concha y Toro is one of the oldest Chilean wineries, dating from 1883. 71 Robinson, 2006, supra, at p. 164; www.conchaytoro.com.
Lloyd Lider, then Professor in the Department of Viticulture & Enology at UC Davis, imported Cabernet Sauvignon cuttings in March, 1971, from one of the Concha y Toro Vineyards located in Peumo in the Cachapoal Valley. The import documents indicated that all the cuttings were from "Cabernet Sauvignon r(ow) 3 v(ine) 1, Cachapoal Vineyard, Block 25". Viña Concha y Toro is the designated source. The cuttings were imported to the United States with USDA Plant Identification number 364302.
The cuttings underwent heat treatment at FPS for different periods of time: FPS 12 (103 days); FPS 13 (111 days); FPS 14 (111 days); former FPS 15, now FPS 54 (111 days); FPS 19 (137 days); FPS 20 (137 days); FPS 21 (141 days). All seven selections first appeared on the list of registered selections in 1978. The selection number for the selection originally named Cabernet Sauvignon 15 was changed to Cabernet Sauvignon 54 in 2009 to avoid confusion with ENTAV-INRA® Cabernet Sauvignon 15EV.
Cabernet Sauvignon 21 has been included in several university trials. It has demonstrated yields on the higher side in Lodi and Fresno.
Other California vineyards
Cabernet Sauvignon 22 and 23 were selected from a vineyard in Napa County, California, in 1986. Both selections underwent heat treatment - 60 days and 136 days, respectively - and first appeared on the list of registered selections in 1990. It is reported that the selections are very aromatic.
In 2003 eleven percent of California's Cabernet Sauvignon vines were grown in the central and southern San Joaquin Valley, which is a very warm Winkler V climate region. A replicated trial was conducted near Fresno to assist farmers in that region select Cabernet Sauvignon clones that would maximize yield of acceptable-quality fruit. The researchers found that the high yield (23 kg per vine) and early maturity shown by FPS 22 in the trial were distinctive. 72 Fidelibus et al., 2006, supra.
Cabernet Sauvignon 24 came to FPS from Laurel Glen Vineyard in Glen Ellen, Sonoma County, California, in 1988. The selection received no treatment and was first registered in the R & C Program in 1994.
Cabernet Sauvignon 40 was donated to FPS in 2001 by Kendall-Jackson Winery. The plant material originated from Mt. Eden Vineyards, a small wine estate located in the Santa Cruz Mountains since 1945. The Mt. Eden Winery focuses on small lots of wines, including Cabernet Sauvignon. FPS 40 did not undergo treatment and qualified for the FPS foundation vineyard in 2003.
A group of 14 winegrape selections was donated to FPS in 2002 by Larry Hyde, a Napa grape grower who is well respected for the quality of his fruit and his collection of field clones. Included in the group was one Cabernet franc, four Merlot selections, and Cabernet Sauvignon 42. The clone is known as the "Backus clone" at Phelps Vineyards. In an article for the 2004 FPS Grape Program Newsletter, Hyde described the Cabernet Sauvignon selection as an "early-producing clone with spice flavor and large berries and clusters". FPS 42 did not undergo any treatment and initially qualified for the foundation vineyard in 2004.
Cabernet Sauvignon 43 came to FPS from a California vineyard in 2002. The selection is reported to be French clone 15. FPS refers to this type of material as "a generic French clone". The importation from France preceded the official ENTAV-INRA® clone authorization program (2001), so the identity of a generic French clone cannot be guaranteed under that official program. Generic clones receive an FPS selection number that is not the official French clone number. Cabernet Sauvignon 43 attained registered status in the R&C Program in 2006. A treated version of the selection qualified for the Russell Ranch Foundation Vineyard in 2013.
Weimer clone, New York State
Cabernet Sauvignon 74 was donated to the public grapevine collection at Foundation Plant Services in 2015 by David Olney of Olney Family Vineyards in Napa, California. The material is the Weimer clone of Cabernet Sauvignon. Hermann J. Weimer was a pioneer of viticulture and winemaking in the Finger Lakes region (Seneca Lake) in New York State. He had previously studied with Dr. Helmet Becker at Neustadt in Weimer's native country of Germany. Weimer established a grapevine nursery in the Finger Lakes region in 1979, from which Olney acquired the Weimer Cabernet Sauvignon clone. Olney reports that the Weimer clone grows well in the cooler southern part of the Napa Valley and produces wine that is "exceptionally dark with lively and bright fruit". www.napawineproject.com/olney-family-vineyards/ . The original material of this selection successfully qualified for the FPS Classic Foundation Vineyard in 2017 as Cabernet Sauvignon 74. A treated version of this material has also qualified for the Russell Ranch Foundation Vineyard as Cabernet Sauvignon 74.1.
Cabernet Sauvignon 63 is a second selection in the FPS foundation vineyard collection that was sourced at the Weimer Vineyard in the Finger Lakes region of New York State. FPS 63 is a proprietary selection that came to FPS in 2008 from Stagecoach Vineyard in Napa, California. The name of the selection was given as "the Weimer clone". The material qualified for the FPS Classic Foundation Vineyard in 2011.
California Heritage Cabernet Sauvignon Clones
Cabernet Sauvignon 29 is one of three Cabernet Sauvignon clones that were selected by Phil Freese and FPS Director Deborah Golino from Napa Valley vineyards with a reputation for quality wine production. FPS 29 is the Niebaum-Coppola Heritage Cabernet Sauvignon Heritage clone.
Captain Gustav Niebaum purchased the Inglenook Winery property in Napa County in 1879. Capt. Niebaum imported many varieties, including Cabernet Sauvignon, from nurseries in southern France between 1882 and 1885. Niebaum planted the original Cabernet Sauvignon block in 1882. Former Niebaum-Coppola winemaker Scott McLeod stated that the original block was the source of all subsequent plantings on the estate. 73 McLeod, Scott, Presentation at FPS' Variety Focus: Cabernet Sauvignon, held at UC Davis on May 15, 2008. The Variety Focus: Cabernet Sauvignon may be viewed on the FPS website at, http://fps.ucdavis.edu/Grapes/Variety Focus Presentations. The original material became a "massale" selection - a mix of genetic material (dormant cuttings) that was continuously replanted to the original selection - and was made into wine over an extended period of time. 74 Heald, Eleanor and Ray Heald, ''Saving a heritage clone'', Practical Winery & Vineyard, vol. XXIII, no. 6: 30-40 (March/April 2002).
Former Niebaum-Coppola vineyard manager and historian, Rafael Rodriguez, assisted Golino and Freese with selection of the heritage clonal material for FPS. Rodriguez directed them to a Pritchard Hill vineyard on the former Inglenook estate that had been planted in 1933 with vines descended from Niebaum's original plantings. The cuttings that later became FPS 29 were harvested from that vineyard in 1989.
Virus testing at FPS established that the original material was infected with several viruses. Microshoot tip tissue culture therapy was used in 1990-1991 to create a new selection free of the viruses. The treated Cabernet Sauvignon FPS 29 became available to the public in 1999.
Cabernet Sauvignon 29 showed negative results for fleck virus when initially subjected to field index testing in 1997. However, the source vines in the foundation block later tested positive for the fleck virus using PCR (polymerase chain reaction) procedures. Although a positive PCR test for fleck virus is not alone actionable in the California Grapevine Registration & Certification Program, the FPS 29 vines were placed on hold at FPS. The selection underwent microshoot tip tissue culture therapy again at FPS in 2008. The treated material successfully completed testing to qualify for the Russell Ranch Foundation Vineyard in 2012 where it is named Cabernet Sauvignon 29.1.
The second heritage selection brought to FPS by Golino and Freese in 1989 was the Disney-Silverado Heritage selection - Cabernet Sauvignon 30. The Disney-Silverado selection came from an old vineyard near the Silverado Trail in the Stag's Leap District of Napa Valley. Various reports suggest multiple sources for the plant material in the Disney-Silverado vineyard, which is most likely a massale selection composed of plant material from a number of California vineyards.
The common understanding is that the grapevines from which Golino and Freese harvested Cabernet Sauvignon 30 were the "See clone" of Cabernet Sauvignon. The property from which FPS 30 was taken was once owned by Harry See of See's Candies, who sold the property in 1979 to Mrs. Lillian Disney. The oral tradition at Silverado Winery is: Harry See named the property "Silverado Vineyard", which was later adopted by the new owners. The Cabernet Sauvignon vines were already planted at the See Ranch when Mrs. Disney purchased the property. By that time, the vines had come to be known as the See clone of Cabernet Sauvignon. The source of the See clone is not clear nor is it well-documented.
John Brock was the vineyard manager who lived on the property and developed the See Ranch vineyard. He personally planted the See vineyard, including the Cabernet Sauvignon vines, all of which were planted in 1969. The budwood for the vineyard was obtained from multiple sources in California. Brock obtained Chardonnay and (he believes) some Cabernet budwood from Wente vineyards in Livermore. Brock also recalls that he received select material from Joe Heitz and Martha's Vineyard. Finally, he recalls harvesting wood from a vineyard near Healdsburg but cannot remember the name of the grower. 75 Brock, Clay, personal communication with author on August 25, 2008. Clay Brock is the son of John Brock.
Wine merchant Darrell Corti knew Harry See. Harry See was acquainted with Belle and Barney Rhodes, who Corti believes persuaded See to purchase the property in the Napa Valley. The Rhodes originally owned and planted what became known as Martha's Vineyard in Oakville in 1961 with 12 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon cuttings taken from the Winkler plot at the University of California Experiment Station, rows 34-38. Those Cabernet vines had been budded at the Experiment Station in 1948 and showed good production and a healthy appearance. The vines planted at the Oakville station were taken from the trials at Larkmead and were known as the "Oakville clones". Oakville Station is across the road from Martha's Vineyard. 76 Sullivan, Napa Wine, 2008, supra, at p. 258; Charles L. Sullivan, A Companion to California Wine (University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA, 1998), pp. 201-202; Darrell Corti, personal communication with author on August 20, 2008; Philip E. Hiaring, ''Martha's Vineyard: a place and a wine'', Wines & Vines 60(5): 70-73 (1979); Letter from H.P. Olmo to Rick Aldine, Stagâ€™s Leap Wine Cellars, 1994, supra. The Rhodes were later shareholders in Heitz Cellar and socialized with Harry See and Joe Heitz. 77 Harry Waugh, Diary of A Wine Taster, pp. 32, 151, Quadrangle Books, New York (1972).
There are two separate accounts of the origin of the See clone that relate back to Wente Vineyards. John Brock stated that he may have obtained some Cabernet Sauvignon cuttings from Wente Vineyards in Livermore at the same time he harvested some Chardonnay cuttings. 78 Clay Brock, 2008, supra.
It is difficult to trace the particular plant material that Brock indicated he obtained from Wente at the Livermore site. The Cabernet Sauvignon grapevines planted at Wente Vineyards in Livermore in the 1960's were developed from plant material brought to California by Charles Wetmore from Château Margaux in France at the end of the 19th century. 79 www.wentevineyards.com. Wente did not sell any wood harvested from the Livermore Vineyards in the 1960's, as the availability of virus free wood had become the driver of the new planting requests at that time. However, Philip Wente explains that it was quite common for growers to go to Wente's Livermore facility to pick up bundles of cuttings made from the certified increase blocks in Arroyo Seco in Monterey County. 80 Wente, Philip, President of Wente Vineyards, email communications to the author on June 6 and August 27, 2008.
Wente Vineyards was one of the largest suppliers of certified, inspected wood from the FP(M)S program in the late 1960's. Wente Vineyards in Monterey had available Cabernet Sauvignon budwood at that time. Wente received cuttings of Cabernet Sauvignon 03 (Mendoza, Argentina) in 1966 and planted them in Wente's increase block 36 in Monterey County. Philip Wente believes that Cabernet Sauvignon wood obtained by Brock in Livermore was from the increase blocks in Monterey. Although Wente received a subsequent shipment of Cabernet Sauvignon 07 and 08 (Concannon) from FP(M)S in 1972 and planted those vines in Monterey County increase block 113, the timing of the See Ranch planting in 1969 suggests that Brock received Cabernet Sauvignon 03 from the Wente Monterey block.
A second account of the origin of the Cabernet Sauvignon See clone is also related to the Wente vineyards in Monterey. There is substantial evidence that some of the See clone massale planting was obtained from a vineyard owned by Sterling Winery, who obtained its grapevines from the Wente block in Monterey that contained FPS 03.
Jack Stuart, the former winemaker for Silverado Vineyards, states that Cabernet Sauvignon vines were planted on the See Ranch within the approximate time period of 1968 to 1971. He believed that cuttings were taken from multiple vines in a vineyard owned by Sterling Winery. Stuart observed that there appeared to be two different types of the Cabernet Sauvignon vines on the See property; some were characterized by small loose clusters and others had small berries. 81 Stuart, Jack, personal communication with author on June 9, 2008. Stuart's recollection lends credence to the massale selection theory.
Alex Vyborny worked for a vineyard management company that managed the See vineyards in 1973. He said that the See Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon was planted by John Brock in 1968 or 1969 with cuttings from Sterling Winery's Bear Flat vineyards, located on Highway 29 south of Larkmead Lane. Vyborny described the "See clone" as having lighter cluster weight, smaller berry size, lower acid and softer tannin. 82 Vyborny, Alex, personal communication with author on August 22, 2008.
Ric Forman joined Sterling Winery as winemaker in 1969, the year of its first vintage. At that time, the Cabernet Sauvignon vines in the Sterling Bear Flat vineyard had already been planted for a few years and were producing a crop. He believes that the Bear Flat vines may have been planted in 1966 or 1967. 83 Ric Forman, personal communication with author in June, 2008. At that time, the Wente increase blocks in Monterey contained the FPS 03 selection.
Uncertainty about the origin of the "See clone" of Cabernet Sauvignon seems likely to continue, given the passage of time and lack of documentation.
The Disney-Silverado Cabernet Sauvignon material that was brought to FPS in 1989 was infected with virus and underwent microshoot tip tissue culture treatment. Cabernet Sauvignon 30 appeared on the list of registered vines in 1999.
An ongoing replicated trial of the three FPS heritage clones conducted in Oakville, California, produced data for a three-year period from 2005-2007. Deborah Golino and Jim Wolpert reported on the results of the Oakville study at the Variety Focus: Cabernet Sauvignon, sponsored by FPS on the UC Davis campus on May 15, 2008. Cabernet Sauvignon 30 (the Disney-Silverado heritage clone) was included in the study, in both its original and treated forms. The relevant finding related to FPS 30 is that, for the three-year period, it performed much like the popular and higher yielding selection Cabernet Sauvignon 08 (Concannon). Jim Wolpert stated that FPS 29 and 30 "looked a lot like FPS 08". 84 Wolpert, James, Presentation at FPS' Variety Focus: Cabernet Sauvignon, held at UC Davis on May 15, 2008. The Variety Focus: Cabernet Sauvignon may be viewed on the FPS website at fps.ucdavis.edu/Grapes/Variety Focus Presentations.
H.W. Crabbe probably planted the first commercial Cabernet Sauvignon in Napa Valley. He originally planted the To-Kalon vineyard in the 1870's with cuttings of premium varietals from France. Robert Mondavi purchased most of the To-Kalon vineyard in 1962, which by then had been producing well-regarded Cabernet Sauvignon grapes for many years. 85 Sullivan, Companion to California Wine, 1998, supra, at pp. 78-79; Julia Flynn Siler,The House of Mondavi: The Rise and Fall of an American Dynasty. Gotham Books, New York (2007). He purchased additional To-Kalon acreage in 1968. Mondavi believed that the vineyard was ideal for growing Cabernet Sauvignon due to sunny days and cool nights during the growing season and the flat, fertile plain on which the vineyard was situated. 86 Robert Mondavi, Harvests of Joy. Harcourt Brace & Company. New York, San Diego, London (1998).
The third heritage selection, Cabernet Sauvignon 31, was donated to FPS by Mondavi Winery from the To-Kalon Vineyard near Oakville, California. The FPS Mondavi selection was from 50-year old vines in the To-Kalon vineyard (S block, vine 2). Phil Freese spent 12 years with Robert Mondavi Winery (1982-1993), in part as Vice President of Winegrowing. He recommended the To-Kalon clone for the heritage collection because the Mondavi Winery had success with it and the clone appeared to be unique. Cabernet Sauvignon 31 tested positive for viruses and underwent microshoot tip tissue culture therapy at FPS. The selection first appeared on the list of registered vines in 1999.
The replicated trial conducted by UC and FPS researchers, described above, confirms a possible genetic basis for Freese's opinion. At the Variety Focus: Cabernet Sauvignon, Jim Wolpert reported that significant surprising results were revealed in regard to the yield results for the Mondavi heritage clone (FPS 31). He compared the clone to Cabernet Sauvignon 06 (Jackson), which has consistently produced low yields in prior trials (60% of the yield of Cabernet Sauvignon 08). The low yields were tied to fewer berries per cluster and lower cluster weights. The 3-year average showed that FPS 31 performed at levels similar to or lower than FPS 06 over time.
The Oakville trial also compared the performance of the three FPS heritage clones in their original condition (suffering from viruses) with the corresponding FPS selections that had undergone virus-elimination therapy. At the Variety Focus: Cabernet Sauvignon, Deborah Golino exhibited data showing that, even though all three heritage selections initially had similar virus profiles, the effect of virus elimination on yield was to significantly increase yield, cluster weight and berries per cluster for two of the heritage clones (FPS 29 and 31). The original infected materials for all three heritage selections have been preserved at an isolated site on the UC Davis campus, since all three of the original vineyards from which the heritage clones were taken no longer exist.
Fountaingrove clones from Ridge Vineyards
Four Cabernet Sauvignon selections were donated to the FPS public collection in 2007 by Ridge Vineyards in Cupertino, California. The four selections were chosen from individual vines in the old Monte Bello Vineyard in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
Physician Osea Perrone developed the Montebello Winery in the 1880's on an estate on the Monte Bello Ridge above Cupertino in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The Monte Bello vineyard is situated 15 miles from the Pacific Ocean in California's coolest Cabernet-producing area. In 1949, Cabernet Sauvignon vines were planted again near the old Perrone estate on Monte Bello Ridge. That vineyard was ultimately purchased by a group of scientists who eventually formed Ridge Vineyards, which occupies the old Perrone winery. 87 Sullivan, Companion to California Wine, 1998, supra, at pp. 221, 285.
The four selections donated to FPS originated from four of the vines planted in 1949 at Monte Bello Vineyards. Those vines came from the since-abandoned Fountaingrove Winery, Vineyard, Nursery and Utopian Community near Santa Rosa, California (founded by Thomas Lane Harris in 1875 and run by Kanaye Nagasawa until his death in 1934). [For more about the Fountaingrove community in Santa Rosa, see Chapter 8, Malbec/Cot]. Ridge Vineyards named the four Cabernet Sauvignon selections donated to FPS Fountaingrove A, B, C and D.
The vines that produced the FPS Fountaingrove selections also contributed the grapes to the 1971 Ridge Monte Bello wine evaluated in the famous Judgment of Paris in 1976. A California wine, Stag's Leap 1973, was judged best red wine in that competition; the Ridge Monte Bello 1971 Cabernet Sauvignon was judged fifth place out of ten. 88 George M. Taber, Judgment of Paris: Califiornia vs. France and the Historic 1976 Paris Tasting That Revolutionized Wine (Scribner, New York, 2005), pp. 181-183, 203. A re-enactment was conducted in 2006 to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Judgment of Paris. Simultaneous tastings were held in Napa and London. The 1971 Ridge Monte Bello wine placed first in the combined scoring from both locations.
Cabernet Sauvignon 62 (Fountaingrove B) successfully completed disease testing at FPS in 2011 and became available to the public in 2013. Cabernet Sauvignon 70 (Fountaingrove C) and 71 (Fountaingrove D) completed testing in 2014. STA Laboratory performed tissue culture therapy on the plant material prior to arrival at FPS. These three selections will undergo additional microshoot tip tissue culture therapy at FPS to qualify for the Russell Ranch Vineyard.
Cabernet Sauvignon 65.1 (Fountaingrove A) underwent microshoot tip tissue culture therapy upon arrival at FPS in 2007. The selection successfully completed testing to qualify for the Russell Ranch Vineyard in 2012 and is available to the public.
David Gates, Vice-President of Vineyard Operations for Ridge Vineyards, reports that the source vines for the Fountaingrove selections still consistently contribute to Monte Bello wines. The four vines selected for FPS were chosen on the basis of apparent vine health. Future evaluations by Ridge Vineyards will tell if there are significant differences between them.
Larkmead Heritage clone
The Larkmead heritage clone, Cabernet Sauvignon 86.1, was donated to the public grapevine collection at Foundation Plant Services in 2009 by Larkmead Vineyards in Calistoga, California. The material was collected from an old block at Larkmead Vineyards that is adjacent to one of Harold Olmo's old clonal blocks. Olmo established the clonal selection blocks at the vineyard on Larkmead Lane in Napa in 1939 using material collected from old vineyards throughout the state (including that from the Kunde Estate, which was released at FPS in 1965 as Cabernet Sauvignon 02). The Larkmead Heritage clone material underwent microshoot tip tissue culture therapy at FPS in 2014 and qualified for the Russell Ranch Foundation Vineyard in 2017.
Clonal Material from French sources
Generic French clones
In the mid-1980's the Oregon Winegrowers' Association and Oregon State University (OSU) collaborated on a project related to a mutual interest in European clonal material. The Winegrowers' Project was initially created in 1987-89 to obtain select European grape clones for the American grape and wine industry. The material imported through OSU was later shared with the public collection at FPS in 1988-1989. Any clones imported from France were referred to as "generic French clones" in the FPS database. This importation project preceded the official ENTAV-INRAÂ® clone authorization program (2001), and the alleged clonal identity of the generic French clones is not guaranteed. Generic clones are "reported to be" the French clone number assigned at the time of the importation.
The 1988-89 transaction through OSU did not include Cabernet Sauvignon plant material. An Oregon viticulturist involved in the project named David Adelsheim later assisted Austin Goheen and Susan Nelson-Kluk with importing some additional French clones. Cabernet Sauvignon clones were sent directly to FPS using funds remaining after the original Winegrowers' Project.
In 1989, FPS received three clones directly from the Chambre d'Agriculture de la Gironde, France. The Chambre d'Agriculture is a semi-governmental agency that exists in each geopgraphical area in France; in some areas, the Chambre works with growers to help them select appropriate clones. The Chambre d'Agriculture de la Gironde is located in Blanquefort, just north of the city of Bordeaux. The three clones sent to FPS in 1989 were: Cabernet Sauvignon 33 (reported to be French clone 191), Cabernet Sauvignon 37 (reported to be French clone 339), and Cabernet Sauvignon 47 (reported to be French clone 337).
All three of the French Cabernet Sauvignon selections tested positive for virus and underwent microshoot tip tissue culture treatment. FPS 33 (reported to be French clone 191) and FPS 37 (reported to be French clone 339) first appeared on the list of registered vines in 2003 and 2005, respectively.
Cabernet Sauvignon 47 is reportedly the long-awaited clean version of French clone 337. In the 1995 ENTAV Catalogue of Selected Wine Grape Varieties and Certified Clones Cultivated in France, Cabernet Sauvignon 337 is described as a superior clone which produces well balanced wines with good aging qualities. The original material for FPS 47 was imported directly from France in 1989 and tested positive for leafroll and fleck viruses. It took many years at FPS to clean the selection of prohibited viruses because of a propagation error made in the 1990's. DNA analysis was performed in the fall of 2007 to confirm that this selection is indeed Cabernet Sauvignon.
Cabernet Sauvignon 34 and 35 came to FPS from France as proprietary selections in 1995. FPS 34 is reported to be French clone 191. FPS 35 is reported to be French clone 585. Both selections underwent microshoot tip tissue culture therapy and qualified for the Classic Foundation Vineyard in 2000. The FPS proprietary status for both selections expired in 2002.
Cabernet Sauvignon 43 came to FPS from France via a California vineyard in 2002 and is reported to be French clone 15. No treatment was necessary for this selection, which qualified for the Classic Foundation Vineyard in 2004.
The Vincent series
The "Vincent series" refers to a collection of grapevine material that was donated to the FPS public collection in 2004 and 2005 by a well-respected producer of French wine near Bordeaux, France. The Vincent series at FPS includes the varieties Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet franc. The donor, who wishes to remain anonymous, named the series after his vineyard manager in France as well as the patron saint of winegrowers, St. Vincent of Saragossa.
There are thirteen Cabernet Sauvignon selections in the Vincent series - Cabernet Sauvignon 44, 45, 46, 48, 49, 50, 52, 53, 55, 56, 57, 58, and 59. Each selection is from a unique source vine in the vineyard in Bordeaux.
The original plant material for Cabernet Sauvignon 44, 45, 46, 48, 49, and 50 successfully completed disease testing in 2006 and 2007. Ten of the selections underwent microshoot tip tissue culture therapy due to a positive status for Rupestris stem pitting virus; they qualified for the Russell Ranch Foundation Vineyard between 2011 and 2014. The remaining three selections (FPS 44, 46 and 57) will eventually undergo therapy.
It is expected that the generous donation of the Vincent series grapevine material will contribute to an increase in the diversity and quality of the Cabernet Sauvignon clonal material available in the United States.
Official French clones
The agency formerly known as The Etablissement National Technique pour l'Amelioration de la Viticulture (ENTAV) was an official agency certified by the French Ministry of Agriculture and was responsible for the management and coordination of the French national clonal selection program. ENTAV merged with ITV France in 2007; the new entity is called the Institut Français de la Vigne et du Vin (IFV).
IFV continues with the responsibilities formerly administered by ENTAV, including maintenance of the French national repository of accredited clones and administration of the ENTAV-INRA® authorized clonal trademark program to protect the official French clones internationally. The trademark is a good indication that the clonal identity of a vine is correct. Trademarked importations come directly from official French source vines. IFV retains the exclusive rights to control the distribution and propagation of its trademarked materials which are only available to the public from nurseries licensed by IFV.
The selection numbers used for ENTAV-INRA® authorized clones in the FPS collection are the same numbers assigned to the official trademarked clones in France. For example, Cabernet Sauvignon ENTAV-INRA® 15EV corresponds to official French clone 15.
Clone 15 was one of the first French Cabernet Sauvignon clones certified in the French program in 1971. Authorized French clone 15 (15EV) was imported to FPS in 1999 and is reportedly a Bordeaux clone that is preferred in southern France. Wine produced from the clone is fruity and aromatic, according to ENTAV research. The selection qualified for the FPS Classic Foundation Vineyard in 2002. The number 15EV was assigned to the selection at FPS to avoid confusion with FPS 15, a selection from Chile that arrived at FPS prior to official French clone 15.
Cabernet Sauvignon ENTAV-INRA® 169, 170, 338, 412 and 685 came to FPS between 1997 and 2000 and first appeared on the list of registered vines in 2003 (169, 170, 338, and 412) and 2004 (685).
Cabernet Sauvignon ENTAV-INRA® 1124 was imported to FPS in 2011 and is official French clone 1124. The new clone was created in France from clone 191 using microshoot tip tissue culture therapy. The therapy was performed to rid clone 191 of grapevine leafroll virus 2. The Extension Service of the Agricultural Chamber of Bordeaux reports that clone 1124 is more vigorous than 191 and provides full colored wines with very good ageing aptitudes.
Cabernet Sauvignon ENTAV-INRA® 1125 came to FPS in 2012. The authorized French clone originated in Bordeaux and was registered in France in 2009.
Cabernet Sauvignon 337 is a popular French clone that was submitted to the FPS program for testing and treatment in 2009. The clone originated in France from the AOC Côte des Blaye. Testing in France in 2003-2006 showed wine produced from the clone to be aromatic, well balanced, and with good quality tannins. The selection was initially sent to the United States from ENTAV-INRA (now IFV) to the Missouri State University quarantine facility in 1997. The material was not qualified for the California Registration & Certification Program at that time. ENTAV subsequently distributed the clone to Sunridge Nurseries, who eventually submitted it to FPS in 2009. After undergoing testing and microshoot tip tissue therapy at FPS in 2009, clone 337 qualified for the foundation vineyard in the California R&C Program. The selection was planted in the Russell Ranch Foundation Vineyard in 2013 as Cabernet Sauvignon ENTAV-INRA® 337.1.
All of the ENTAV selections are available to the public through ENTAV-INRA licensees
Two Cabernet Sauvignon selections from Italy became part of the FPS public grapevine collection as a result of the project funded by Winegrowers of California. The plant material was sent to FPS in 1989 by Dr. Antonio Calò from the Istituto Sperimentale per la Viticoltura di Conegliano (now the Centro di Ricerca per la Viticoltura) in northern Italy.
Cabernet Sauvignon 38 is Italian clone ISV-V-F-6. Cabernet Sauvignon 39 is Italian clone R5. Both selections were treated at FPS and completed testing in 2001-2004.
Interest in the Cabernet Sauvignon variety in California shows no sign of abating. The FPS heritage clones and other unique selections, such as the Fountaingrove clones and the Vincent series, offer interesting alternatives to the traditional standard FPS selections.
There is evidence that Cabernet franc was grown in Bordeaux several centuries longer than Cabernet Sauvignon, which first appeared in the 17th century. The morphological similarity between the two varieties was explained when scientists discovered through DNA analysis that Cabernet franc is the male parent of Bordeaux varieties Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Carmenère. 89 Boursiquot, J.-M., T. Lacombe, V. Laucou, S. Julliard, F.-X. Perrin, N. Lanier, D. LeGrand, C. Meredith and P. This, ''Parentage of Merlot and related winegrape cultivars of southwestern France: discovery of the missing link'', Australian Journal of Grape and Wine Research, 15: 144-155 (2009); Bowers and Meredith, 1997, supra.
Cabernet franc was first imported to California in 1872. 90 Sullivan, Companion to California Wine, 1998, supra, at p. 43. Hilgard was impressed with the "keeping quality" of the wine but noted acid levels and color intensity much lower than Cabernet Sauvignon. 91 Paparelli and Hilgard, 1892, supra, at pp. 38-48; Ough and Alley, Wines and Vines, 1966, supra, at pp. 23-25. Hilgard ultimately recommended Cabernet franc for California growers and winemakers because the wine deteriorated rapidly and would bring wines to maturity relatively quickly.
In 1963, UC researchers Amerine and Winkler observed that Cabernet franc had been grown in California alongside Cabernet Sauvignon for many years. In the cooler regions, Cabernet franc produced wines of high quality with the characteristic Cabernet aroma but not of high color or tannins. They noted that the wines aged rapidly. In warmer regions, they noted that few wines of high quality were produced. They did not recommend Cabernet franc for planting in California. 92 Amerine and Winkler, 1963, supra, at pp. 48-49.
Notwithstanding their conclusion, a small acreage of Cabernet franc was planted in Napa Valley in the 1960's. Cabernet franc usually has a lighter body with less tannin and acid than Cabernet Sauvignon and is often blended with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Cabernet franc grapes were blended by Robert Mondavi in his 1971 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. 93 Sullivan, Companion to California Wine, 1998, supra, at p. 43. Varietal Cabernet franc wines were produced in the late 1970's. There is a risk of overcropping with the variety, and the wines can have a vegetative aroma associated with highly vigorous growing sites. 94 Wine Varieties in California, supra, at p. 35.
Cabernet franc 01 was the only Cabernet franc selection on the list of registered vines at FPS between 1967 and 1996. Very little Cabernet franc was distributed from the FPS foundation vineyard prior to 1970. FPS began to use Cabernet franc as an indicator variety to detect leafroll and other viruses in the late 1970's because it was suitable in the Davis climate. [Chapter 4 about FPS discusses this in more detail].
California grape acreage statistics for 1991 show that total grape acreage for Cabernet franc increased from 357 acres in 1982 to 1,700 acres in 1991. In 2017, there were approximately 3,517 acres of Cabernet franc planted in California. 95 California Grape Acreage Report, 2017 Crop, supra at p. 5 of 6.
Cabernet franc is grown in the northeast and mid-Atlantic United States because the variety has better cool hardiness than many vinifera varieties and yields well. In New York State, plantings began in the early 90's and peaked in the late 90's; USDA grape acreage statistics show 250 acres planted in the state in 2011 (third behind Riesling and Chardonnay). Cabernet franc is the 5th most planted variety in Michigan (and the second red after Pinot noir) with 155 acres. The Penn State College of Agriculture reported in the "Pennsylvania Wine Industry in 2011" that European vinifera varieties dominated recent plantings; 2008 acreage statistics included plantings for Cabernet franc (123), Merlot (88) and Cabernet Sauvignon (74). Cabernet franc plantings in Virginia in 2012 amounted to 380 acres.
Almost all of the Cabernet franc selections in the FPS collection came to Davis from France. Cabernet franc 01 was imported to Davis from Montpellier, France, in December 1938 by Harold Olmo. The material was assigned station number 3880 at Davis. Vines were planted in the Department of Viticulture & Enology's Armstrong vineyard at locations E107:1-22, then C7:13-14 (in 1944), and finally I(eye)56v11 (in 1950). The plant material came to FPS around 1965 from location I56v11 and underwent heat treatment for 128 days. Cabernet franc 01 first appeared on the list of registered vines in 1967 and was the only registered Cabernet franc selection at FPS from 1967 to 1996.
There are numerous "generic French clones" from various sources in the FPS collection.
Cabernet franc 04 and 05 were imported directly to FPS in the winter of 1988-89 from the Chambre d'Agriculture de la Gironde, France, as part of the Winegrowers' of California Project. Cabernet franc 04 is reported to be French clone 332, which originated in Béarn in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques in southwest France. Cabernet franc 05 is reported to be French clone 331 from the same region
FPS 04 and 05 both underwent tissue culture therapy at FPS and were released in 1995. The Winegrowers Report from 1988 indicated that French clones 331 and 332 performed very similarly in clonal trials in Bordeaux and the Loire regions. The ENTAV catalogue shows that the two clones have medium sugars and produce typical wines for the variety.
Cabernet franc 11 and 12 are also generic French clones that were imported to FPS from France in 1995 as proprietary selections for Vinifera, Inc., of Oregon. The two selections are reported to be French clones 214 and 327, respectively. Both selections underwent microshoot tip tissue culture therapy at FPS in 1996 and successfully qualified for the foundation vineyard in 2000. The selections became part of the FPS public collection in 2002.
Cabernet franc 13 was donated to the FPS public collection in 1998 by a private party and is reported to be French clone 312. The clone originated in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques and was certified in France in 1973. It has performed as a later-maturing clone in France. Although not sent as part of the Winegrowers' Program, clone 312 is described in that report as being much appreciated in the Bordeaux area for its high alcohol content and yield. The original material underwent microshoot tip tissue culture therapy at FPS and qualified for the foundation vineyard in 2003.
The Vincent series (see above in Cabernet Sauvignon section) offers two unique sources of Cabernet franc material from a vineyard in Bordeaux, France. Cabernet franc 15 and 16.1 came to FPS in 2004 and are from unique vine sources in that vineyard.
IFV (formerly ENTAV) has imported five official French Cabernet franc clones from the French national collection to FPS: Cabernet franc clones 214, 327 and 623 (in 2000) and 394 and 395 (in 2005). Cabernet franc ENTAV-INRA® 214, 327, and 623 originated from the Maine-et-Loire (214) and Gironde (327 and 623) regions and were certified in France in 1973, 1975 and 1979, respectively. The 1995 ENTAV catalogue reports that the three have superior sugar content and make high quality wines with strength and balance. The Winegrowers' Report characterizes clone 327 is an "improver clone" that brings body, color and tannins to a wine.
Cabernet franc ENTAV-INRA® 394 and 395 originated in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques area of southwest France and were certified in 1975. The ENTAV catalogue states that both clones have medium to superior sugar quality and produce structured and well-colored wines.
Cabernet franc 17 is a proprietary selection that came to FPS in 2006 from Mercier Freres Nursery, in France. The selection qualified for the FPS foundation vineyard in 2013.
Winegrower Larry Hyde donated a Cabernet franc selection to FPS from his Carneros vineyard in 2002. The material is a heritage selection from the Niebaum-Coppola vineyard in Napa. Cabernet franc 14 qualified for the foundation vineyard in 2004.
FPS received two Cabernet franc clones from Italy as part of the Winegrowers' Project. The clones were imported directly to FPS from the Istituto Sperimentale per la Viticoltura in spring 1988. One of those Italian clones came labelled Cabernet franc clone R9 (Rauscedo 9). The material completed testing and was planted in an FPS vineyard in 1993 as Cabernet franc 02. During his 1996 inspection of the FPS grapevine collection, Dr. Jean-Michel Boursiquot from France noted that the vines labelled as Cabernet franc 02 (not registered) were not true-to-type and looked more like Carmenère. DNA analysis performed by Dr. Carole Meredith at UC Davis validated Dr. Boursiquot's identification. 96 FPMS Grape Program Newsletter, October 1997, pp. 5-6. The selection was finally released to the foundation vineyard in 2009 as Carmenère 06.
The second clone from Italy was ISV 1, which tested positive for leafroll virus. After tissue culture therapy, ISV 1 was released as Cabernet franc 03 in 2001. A 1990 profile of ISV 1 by the Istituto in Conegliano indicates that ISV 1 is a vigorous clone having good sugar content.
Finally, Cabernet franc 09 is a proprietary selection that was imported to FPS in 1998 from Vivai Cooperativi Rauscedo in Italy. The material is VCR 10®, which originated in Passirano and was registered in Italy in 1992. A clonal profile produced by Rauscedo states that sugar content is "higher" and the taste of the wine is "soft, of good structure". The report indicates that the polyphenolic content makes the wine suitable for blending with Bordeaux wines.
Cabernet franc 19 was sent to Foundation Plant Services in 2008 as one of four Mavron selections from the Department of Agriculture, Viticulture & Oenology Section, Limassol, Cyprus. The four selections were all from different source vines. The material completed disease testing and was given the name Mavron 02 in 2012. In 2016, DNA testing at FPS showed that this selection is Cabernet franc, so the name of the selection was changed to Cabernet franc 19.
Little is known about the origin of Merlot, but the variety first appears in French literature at the end of the 18th century. Various synonym names used in the past suggest several possible origins for the name of the variety. The name "Merlot" could have been derived from its black berries or affinity of blackbirds for the early-ripening berries (Merlau), from its origin as a seedling from a vine arbor on a house (Bigney rouge) or its proximity to the Garonne River (Sème de la Canau, Sème dou Flube, Plant Médoc).97 A detailed description appeared around 1850 when V. Rendue mentioned Merlot favorably, along with Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon, in connection with the great wines of the Médoc, particularly in some Pomerol and St.-Emilion crus. 97 Galet, 1998, supra, at p. 100; Wine Grape Varieties in California, supra, at p. 87; Philippe LeClair, ''Clonal Selection of Bordeaux Varieties'', Proceedings of International Symposium on Clonal Selection, ASEV, Portland, Oregon, June 1995, pp. 12-15.
In 2008, researchers in Montpellier, France, evaluated the parentage of Merlot using the powerful markers originally developed at UC Davis to determine the parentage of Cabernet Sauvignon. The French researchers concluded that the parents of Merlot were Cabernet franc (male) and an obscure variety from Brittany and Charentes which the researchers named Magdeleine Noire des Charentes (female). They observed that Merlot's fitness and success may be due to inheritance of desirable traits from both parents, "the quality of its phenolic compounds (tannins, anthocyanins) from the father, Cabernet franc, and precocity and fertility from the mother, Magdeleine Noire des Charentes". 98 J.-M. Boursiquot et al., 2009, at pp. 144-148.
Merlot was imported to the United States in the 19th century. A nurseryman from San José, California, Antoine Delmas, imported some of the first French wine grapes to northern California in 1850, including vines labelled Cabrunet and Merleau (Merlau). 99 Sullivan, Companion to California Wine, 1998, supra, at p. 86. Other nurserymen offered the variety prior to Prohibition, but Merlot never attained popularity at that time.
Hilgard did not recommend the variety for California. He described the Merlot grapes as "very dark-tinted, very sweet and agreeable but very delicate" and the vines as "uncertain, low bearers and sensitive to sunburn and warm winds". The grapes must be gathered as soon as they are ripe. Hilgard found the wine to have heavy color, low acid and delicate aroma. 100 Paparelli and Hilgard, 1892, supra, at pp. 55-60; Ough and Alley, Wines and Vines, 1977, supra, at p. 24. Frederic Bioletti included Merlot in the collection of vinifera varieties in the new vineyard at the University Farm at Davis in 1910.
After Repeal, a few acres of Merlot vines were found in California in Sonoma and San Benito Counties. There were some Merlot vines at Inglenook Vineyards. Louis Martini planted some Merlot near Healdsburg in 1962. 101 Sullivan, Companion to California Wine, 1998, supra, at p. 211.
In their original report on recommended grape varieties published in 1944, Amerine and Winkler did not recommend Merlot on the basis that it had been "insufficiently tested in California". 102 Amerine and Winkler, Hilgardia 1944, supra, at p. 664. They observed that Merlot was a small producer in California but might produce a distinctive wine in Winkler regions I and II.
When the two men published the update of their comprehensive report in 1963, Amerine and Winkler placed Merlot on the recommended list for planting in California. They noted that the variety had never been grown commercially to any extent in California but had favorable characteristics, including excellent production and good quality musts. It was recommended for pilot plantings in regions I and II (and possibly region III) because of adequate ripening and moderately good acidity in those regions. Merlot had produced above-average wines with a distinct Cabernet-like flavor and aroma in their university evaluations. 103 Amerine and Winkler, California Wine Grapes, 1963, supra, at p. 25.
In an undated paper in the Olmo archival collection at UC Davis, Harold Olmo stated: "traditionally the principal role of the variety [Merlot] is blending with the Cabernet Sauvignon, softening and mellowing the astringency of the tannins. The earlier harvest of the Merlot and its lower acidity is especially valuable in the northern districts when Cabernet Sauvignon may often fail to reach sufficient maturity for grand crus wines". 104 Undated paper entitled ''Merlot'', Olmo collection D-280, box 5: 38, Department of Special Collections, Shields Library, University of California, Davis. In recent years, Merlot has become popular as a full-bodied varietal wine that can be marketed sooner than Cabernet Sauvignon. 105 Wine Grape Varieties in California, 2003, supra, at p. 89.
France experienced a "spectacular and impressive" increase in planting of Merlot beginning in the 1970's, particularly in the Bordeaux area. The variety was the top black wine grape cultivated in France by 2006. 106 J.-M. Boursiquot et al., 2009, supra.
In California, Merlot was included in the planting boom of the 1970's which soared after 1987. Merlot acreage grew faster than that of any other world-class variety (except Viognier) in the 10 years that followed and peaked at around 50,000 acres between 1990 and 2000. 107 Wine Grape Varieties in California, 2003, supra, at p. 87. In 2017, Merlot was the fourth most planted red wine grape in California (39,786 acres) after Cabernet Sauvignon (91,834), Pinot noir (45,304) and Zinfandel (43,210). 108 California Grape Acreage Report, 2017 Summary, California Department of Food & Agriculture, published April 15, 2014, p.5 of 6.
In the United States, Merlot is also grown in Washington State, Oregon, New York and Virginia. Merlot planting in Washington State increased significantly in the 1990's as the Washington Wine Commission actively promoted the variety after the 60 Minutes episode on the "French Paradox". In 2013, Merlot was the fourth-ranked producing variety in the state with 36,000 tons or 17 percent of the total.110 Merlot plantings in the eastern United States are limited by the variety's sensitivity to cold injury and are recommended for only the most favored sites in the northeast, mid-Atlantic, and southeast U.S. 109 Wolf, Tony K., Wine Grape Production Guide for Eastern North America, National Resource, Agriculture, and Engineering Service (NRAES), Cooperative Extension, Ithaca, New York, 2008, pp. 41-45.
Merlot buds and ripens earlier than Cabernet Sauvignon. The problem for cooler climates is that Merlot's buds and flowers are susceptible to frost and coulure in the early spring. The variety favors cool soils that remain damp and develops poorly on very dry hillsides. At the same time, Merlot is somewhat sensitive to excessively wet conditions. It has a low susceptibility to powdery mildew compared with other Bordeaux varieties. 110 Laube, James, California's Great Cabernets (Wine Spectator Press, San Francisco, CA (1989), p. 28; Wine Grape Varieties in California, 2003, supra, at p. 88; Galet, 1998, supra, at p. 101.
Merlot selections from California vineyards
Merlot 01 was donated to the public grapevine collection at Foundation Plant Services by Inglenook in the late 1950's.The Inglenook estate was first developed as a vineyard and winery in the 1880's and was planted with quality wine grape varieties. Inglenook had one of the few plantings of Merlot vines that survived Prohibition. The winery was famous for its high-quality Cabernet wines; the 1970 Inglenook Cabernet included 15% Merlot. 111 Sullivan, Companion to California Wine, 1998, supra, at p. 211. Merlot 01 (the original untreated material) successfully completed testing and was planted in the FPS foundation vineyard in 1961.
Merlot 01 was put through heat treatment therapy for 64 days in 1961-62 and was released as Merlot 03 in 1965. Merlot 03 is a California standard due its consistency of fruit set, yield and fruit composition. The untreated Merlot 01 has performed similarly to Merlot 03. 112 Wine Grape Varieties in California, 2003, supra, at p. 88.
Merlot 06 came to FPS in the late 1950's from Louis Martini's Monte Rosso vineyard in the Mayacamas Mountains in Sonoma County. The vineyard has been owned by Louis Martini Winery since 1938. The name "Monte Rosso" (red mountain) reflects the rich, red, volcanic soils. California's first varietal Merlot was produced by Louis Martini from its 1968 and 1970 vintages. 113 Sullivan, Companion to California Wine, 1998, supra, at p. 211. The original plant material from the Monte Rosso vineyard underwent heat treatment therapy at FPS for 102 days and qualified for the foundation vineyard in 1973.
Two clonal studies by UC researchers evaluated Merlot 01, 03, and 06 in Oakville, Napa County, and Monterey County [along with 08 and 09]. They found that the three clones 01, 03 and 06 were not significantly different in yield. The Merlot clones had only a small difference in berry size due to clone in comparison to yearly variation. There was very little clonal variation with respect to fruit composition. The Oakville researchers concluded that environmental differences from year to year exerted greater influence on yield components than did clonal selection. 114 Benz, M. Jason, Michael M. Anderson, Molly A. Williams, Kristen Barnhisel and James A. Wolpert, ''Viticultural Performance of Five Merlot Clones in Oakville, Napa Valley'', Am.J.Enol.Vitic. 57: 2 p. 233 (2006); L. Bettiga, ''Comparison of Merlot and Chardonnay Clones in Monterey County: A Preliminary Report'', Proceedings on International Symposium on Clonal Selection, sponsored by the American Society for Enology and Viticulture, Portland, Oregon, 1995, p. 93.
Sterling Vineyards donated a heritage Merlot selection to the FPS public collection in 1996 from Sterling's Bear Flats vineyard. In the 1995 ASEV Proceedings of the International Symposium on Clonal Selection, Sterling viticulturist and enologist Daniel Roberts reported on a replicated Merlot trial conducted in Sterling's Bear Flats Estate vineyard in Calistoga, California. The Sterling Vineyards website indicates that Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot thrive in the well-drained, gravelly loam soil of the Bear Flats vineyard. Two Sterling field selections, including the Bear Flats Merlot clone, were evaluated along with Merlot FPS 01, 03, 06 and 08. The Bear Flats Merlot clone originated from several vines within a clonal trial established with French wood in the Martini Monte Rosso Ranch. The Bear Flats clone was preferred over the other selections due to a long ripening period, good yield, deeper color and wine quality. 115 Roberts, Daniel and Richard Blazer, ''The Interaction of Crop Level and Clone on the Enological and Viticultural Characteristics of Merlot'', Proceedings of the International Symposium on Clonal Selection, sponsored by the American Society for Enology and Viticulture, Portland, Oregon, 1995, pp. 133-136. The preferred Sterling selection was donated to FPS in 1996. The original material for the Bear Flats Merlot clone successfully completed testing and was released in 1998 as Merlot 18.
Four Merlot selections donated to FPS by Larry Hyde in 2002 originated from heritage vineyards in Napa and Sonoma counties. Hyde obtained the material that became Merlot 27 from old blocks at the Niebaum-Coppola Vineyard in Napa. Merlot 35.1 is the "Three Palms" selection from Hyde Vineyards. Hyde was given the clone by the Shafers from their vineyard in the Stags Leap area. Hyde states that this selection has longer, looser clusters with smaller berries. Merlot FPS 36.1 is the Buena Vista clone, a very productive clone which is a favorite Merlot clone of Hyde's. The Buena Vista Winery in Sonoma County was established in 1857 by Agoston Haraszthy. The winery is still located on the original grounds and produces wines from quality varieties, including Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Selections 35.1 and 36.1 have both undergone microshoot tip tissue culture therapy at FPS to qualify for the Russell Ranch Foundation Vineyard. The fourth Merlot clone donated by Hyde is from Gundlach-Bundschu and has very thin clusters and fat berries. The Gundlach-Bundschu clone underwent microshoot shoot tip tissue culture therapy at FPS and qualified for the Russell Ranch Foundation Vineyard in 2016 as Merlot 39.1.
From Merlot 07 to Malbec 22
The identities of several of the black grapes of Bordeaux have been confused over the years prior to the discovery of DNA testing. The grape varieties share common parentage in part. The story of Merlot 07 at FPS illustrates the confusion in one location.
Merlot 07 had a long and confusing history at Foundation Plant Services. The plant material arrived in Davis in March, 1962, from the Station de Recherches Viticoles d'Arboriculture Frutiere, C.R.A.S.O., in Pont-de-la-Maye, Gironde, France. The name on the imported material was "Cabernet Savagnin, CL 1563" (USDA Plant Introduction no. 279498). FPS began disease testing the material in 1968-69, initially as Cabernet Sauvignon. The material underwent heat treatment therapy in 1966 for 105 days. During the process, the name of the plant material was changed to Merlot. After the final test results were recorded in 1968, the selection was planted in 1970 in the old FPS foundation vineyard as Merlot 07.
As evidenced by a note entered in the Goheen indexing binder prior to Goheen's retirement in 1986, someone suspected that the selection was possibly Malbec. DNA testing revealed in 2000 that the selection was, in fact, Malbec. 116 Meredith, Carole, ''1999-00 DNA Testing of FPMS Vines'', FPMS Grape Program Newsletter, October 2000, p. 3. In 2006, Merlot 07 underwent microshoot tip tissue culture disease elimination therapy to clean up leafroll virus. FPS changed the name of this selection to Malbec 22 in November of 2010.
Consultant and viticulturist Phil Freese was a Vice-President at Mondavi Winery in the 1990's when he identified the "pre-tissue culture" (untreated) version of what is now known as Malbec 22.1 for use in Mondavi and Opus One wines. Mondavi realized that the cultivar was Malbec, not Merlot, and ensured that the selection was correctly identified as such. They preferred this clone to other Malbec selections and used it at Mondavi Winery. As of 2012, there was still a block planted with the pre-tissue culture Malbec 22.1 material at the To Kalon vineyard in Oakville (to the west of the north field station). 117 Email from Daniel Bosch, Senior Viticulturist at Constellation Wines, to author on July 19, 2012.
Michael Silacci, Winemaker and Director of Viticulture at Opus One, confirms that Opus One has used the pre-tissue culture version of what is now the Malbec 22.1 selection in every Opus wine since 1994. They recognized the clone as Malbec (and not Merlot) using a visual identification. The Malbec clone constitutes about 1% of the Opus vineyard acreage and is only a small percentage of the Opus wine. 118 Personal communication by Michael Silacci, Winemaker and Director of Viticulture, Opus One, to author on July 20, 2012.
Merlot selection from Argentina
Merlot 08 was imported to Davis from Argentina in 1973. The cuttings were presented by Agricultural Engineer José Vega, Director, Rural Extension Agency in Lujan de Cuyo, Mendoza, Argentina. The selection was assigned USDA Plant Identification number 379557 when it entered the United States in June, 1973. The original material underwent heat treatment therapy for 62 days at FPS and successfully qualified for the foundation vineyard in 1976. Clonal evaluations by UC researchers in both Oakville and Monterey found that Merlot 08 produces lower yields (fewer and smaller berries) and fruit-to-pruning weight ratios due to poorer fruit set, especially with cool weather. 119 Wine Grape Varieties in California, 2003, supra, at p. 88; Benz, M. Jason et al., supra at p. 233.
Merlot selections from Italy
Introductions from Italy and France have added clonal diversity to the FPS Merlot collection. Amerine and Winkler referenced a 1957 report by Cosmo and Polsinelli that noted the popularity of Merlot in northern Italy because of its productivity and moderate quality. The researchers in Italy who tested Merlot there found it to have quite variable sugars and acidity and to age poorly. They recommended it for early maturing wine. 120 Amerine and Winkler, California Wine Grapes, 1963, supra, at p. 25. Italy had 63,000 acres of Merlot in 2000, mostly in the northern half of the country. Merlot is typically used for mass market blends from high-yielding vines grown in the Veneto. 121 Robinson et al., WINE GRAPES, 2012, supra, at p. 631.
The first Italian Merlot clones were approved in 1969. One of the early ones was Rauscedo 3 from Vivai Cooperativi Rauscedo. Rauscedo clone 03 was imported to FPS in 1983. The original material completed index testing at FPS in the early 1980's and qualified for the foundation vineyard in 1988 as Merlot 09. This clone behaved in an erratic fashion in the clonal trial in Oakville, and the researchers suggested that growers might want to avoid it.
Two additional clones from Rauscedo became part of the of FPS collection in 2000. These two additional Italian clones are proprietary and are distributed by Rauscedo licensees. Merlot clone VCR 1 originated in Friuli and was approved in Italy in 2000; the clone has small clusters, medium vigor, and an absence of herbaceous scent. VCR1 became Merlot 23 in 2002. Merlot clone VCR 101 was approved in Italy in 2002; VCR 101 has small clusters and berries and average production. VCR 101 became Merlot 24 when it completed testing at FPS in 2002.
In the early 1980's a project was begun in Italy to select better clones, including Merlot selections. The Istituto Sperimentale per la Viticoltura (now, Centro di Ricerca per la Viticoltura) in Conegliano, Italy, participated in the project. Four Merlot clones were bred at the ISV regional center in Conegliano and were approved in Italy in 1990. The four Merlot clones were ISV-V-F-2, ISV-V-F-4, ISV-V-F-5, and ISV-V-F-6. All four of the ISV clones were imported to FPS in spring, 1988, as part of the Winegrowers' Project to improve the clonal material available to the grape and wine industry in the United States. All four clones were indexed at FPS in 1988-89 and eventually were named Merlot 10, Merlot 21, Merlot 11, and Merlot 12, respectively, after passing the tests to qualify for the foundation vineyard.
The San Joaquin Valley accounts for more than one third of the Merlot plantings in the state of California. A clonal trial was conducted in Fresno County between 2000 and 2003 with six FPS Merlot selections. The researchers concluded that Merlot 10 (ISV-V-F-2, Conegliano) was the most desirable of the six Merlot selections (FPS 01, 03, 09, 10, 11 and 14) studied for the San Joaquin Valley because of its superior yield and relatively good fruit composition. 122 Fidelibus, Matthew W., L. Peter Christensen, Donald G. Katayama, Pierre-Thibaut Verdenal, and Kimberley Cathline. ''Fruit Characteristics of Six Merlot Grapevine Selections in the Central San Joaquin Valley, California'', Am.J.Enol.Vitic.58: 2 p. 259 (2007). Merlot 11 (another clone from Conegliano) was the least desirable because it had the largest berries, was susceptible to sour rot, and had the highest juice pH.
Merlot 37 was donated to the FPS public collection in 2012 by Dr. Daniel Ward, Viticulture Extension Specialist, Rutgers University in New Jersey. This Merlot material arrived in the United States from Italy in the 1990's with the name "Merlot 88 BM". One of the named Italian Merlot clones is "BM-8B", which originated in Brescia. It seems likely that the "88 BM" on the original material was probably mistranscribed from "BM-8B". 123 Calò, Antonio, Attilio Scienza, and Angelo Costacurta, Vitigni d'Italia (Calderini edagricole, Bologna, 2001), cloni p. 73.
The mother plant material for Merlot 37 has been grown in the vineyard at the Agriculture, Research and Extension Center at Rutgers University in New Jersey since the early 1990's, when it was imported from Trentino Alto-Adige, in northern Italy. The selection came into the United States through the quarantine program at Geneva, New York. It is believed that this clone might be more cold tolerant than other clones of this cultivar. The original material successfully completed testing to qualify for the FPS Classic Foundation Vineyard in 2015.
Merlot selections from France
In France, the greatest Merlot acreages are in Aquitaine, the greater Bordeaux region and Languedoc-Roussillon. All of the Merlot clonal material from France in the FPS collection originated from Bordeaux.
There are five official French clones in the FPS collection under the ENTAV-INRA® trademark - Merlot ENTAV-INRA® 181, 314, 343, 346, and 348. All five clones originated from the Gironde region. Clones 181 and 314 were certified in France in 1973, and the latter three in 1975. The 1995 ENTAV catalogue shows clones 314, 346 and 348 in production potential group B (fairly high or high) and notes that control of yields gives particularly high-quality wines.
Five Merlot selections at FPS are in the category of "generic French clones". They came to FPS prior to the trademark program for official French clones and are reported to be certain French clones. There is no guarantee as to their authenticity.
Two Merlot clones were added to the collection as a result of the Winegrowers' Project to improve grapevine material for the industry in the United States. Both clones were sent directly to FPS (rather than through the OSU program) in March, 1989, from the Chambre d'Agriculture de la Gironde, France. Merlot 15 is reported to be French clone 181. The Winegrowers' Report states that clone 181 is one of the best quality clones in Bordeaux. The 1995 ENTAV catalogue indicates that clone 181 makes high quality wines. Merlot 15 successfully completed disease testing at FPS and qualified for the foundation vineyard in 1997.
Merlot 22 is reported to be French clone 348. The original material for Merlot 22 was required to undergo microshoot tip tissue culture therapy at FPS in order to qualify for the foundation vineyard since the material tested positive for RSP virus; in the late 1980's, material that tested positive for Rupestris stem pitting virus was not allowed in the California program. The treated material successfully completed testing in 2001.
Merlot 25 was donated to the FPS public collection in 2000 by a California grapevine nursery. It is reported to be French Merlot clone 314. The untreated material was tested and released in 2002.
Two Merlot clones were imported in 1995 as proprietary material for Vinifera, Inc. a nursery in Oregon. Merlot 20 is reported to be clone 348, and Merlot 26 is reported to be clone 343. Merlot 20 was known as Merlot 17 before it underwent tissue culture therapy at FPS for RSP virus; the treated material successfully completed testing in 2000 and qualified for the foundation vineyard as Merlot 20. Merlot 26 was known as Merlot 19 prior to tissue culture therapy for RSP and fleck viruses. Merlot 26 successfully completed testing in 2003. Both selections are now available in the FPS public collection.
There are four Merlot clones in the "Vincent series" (described earlier for Cabernet Sauvignon) from the anonymous source in Bordeaux. The four selections are Merlot 28, 29, 30 and 32. Each selection is from a unique source vine in the vineyard in Bordeaux.
Finally, Merlot 31 was donated to the Foundation Plant Services public collection in 2007 by Jorge Boehm, Viveiros Plansel S.A., Portugal. The selection was planted in the FPS Classic Foundation Vineyard in 2009 after successful completion of testing for the California Grapevine Registration & Certification Program.
Petit Verdot is most often used as a blender for color, tannin and complexity and "round[ing] off the raw material of the great Médoc wines". 124 LeClair, Phillipe. ''Clonal Selection of Bordeaux Varieties'', Proceedings of the International Symposium on Clonal Selection, sponsored by the American Society for Enology and Viticulture, Portland, Oregon, 1995, at pp. 12-15. Petit Verdot is a minor wine grape variety in California, where it is used in Bordeaux blends. There were 3,408 acres planted in the state in 2017.
The variety was evaluated by Hilgard in the 19th century; he stated that Petit Verdot was the latest ripening grape of the Bordeaux region, was used in Cabernet blends for its high acidity, and did not usually form an ingredient in high class wine. 125 Paparelli and Hilgard, 1892, supra, at p 60-66. In 1963, Amerine and Winkler recommended against planting the variety in California. One source indicates that the variety can achieve excellent fruit quality in the mid-Atlantic region of the United States, with potential for blended or varietal wines. 126 Tony K. Wolf., 2008, supra, at p. 46.
Three publicly-available Petit Verdot selections are available in the FPS collection. Petit Verdot 01 was imported to Davis from Bordeaux, France, in October 1951. The selection appears as "Introduction 809" on page 1 of an old binder at FPS labelled "Hewitt Introductions 805-1305". The entry reflects that the plant material was sent to Davis by Harold Olmo. Index testing revealed that the plant material suffered from leafroll virus, and it was heat treated for 128 days. The treated material successfully completed testing in 1966 and qualified for the foundation vineyard as Petit Verdot 01. Petit Verdot 01 proved to be a "shy bearer". The selection was put on hold at FPS in 1998 because the vines produced an extremely small crop. The selection is not recommended for commercial vineyards due to low yields.
Petit Verdot 02 came to FPS in 1965 from the former UC Foothill Experiment Station at Jackson, California (location G3 v10). There is some information that the Experiment Station vine was sourced from a vineyard in Albany, California, in 1889. The plant material successfully completed testing and qualified for the foundation vineyard in 1967 without undergoing treatment.
Petit Verdot 01 and 02 were the subject of clonal testing at Sterling Vineyards in the early 1990's. Although the researchers at the time observed significant morphological differences between the two selections, both were validated as Petit Verdot by DNA testing at FPS in 2003. In the clonal trial, Petit Verdot 02 yielded heavier clusters that ripened earlier than Petit Verdot 01. Wines made from Petit Verdot 02 had a superior acid profile and higher sensory preference scores than those from Petit Verdot 01. 127 Blazer, Richard and Daniel Roberts, ''Comparisons of Viticultural and Enological Characteristics of Two Petit Verdot Selections'', Proceedings on the International Symposium on Clonal Selection, American Society for Enology and Viticulture, Portland, OR, 1995, page 96.
The plant material that is now Petit Verdot 06 was donated to the FPS grapevine collection in 2009 by Duarte Nursery from a vineyard in the San Joaquin Valley. The selection underwent microshoot tip tissue culture therapy at FPS in 2009 and qualified for the foundation vineyard in 2013.
There are three proprietary Petit Verdot selections from France in the FPS collection. Two official French clones from the ENTAV-INRA® program were imported to FPS in 1997 (clone 400) and 2004 (clone 1058). Petit Verdot ENTAV-INRA® 400 and 1058 both originated from Bordeaux.
Guillaume Grapevine Nursery imported its proprietary Petit Verdot clone, now known as Petit Verdot Guillaume® 03, to FPS in 2008.
Carmenère is an old variety from the Gironde that was often confused with other Bordeaux varieties such as Merlot (in Chile) and Cabernet franc (in Italy and California). Carmenère plantings in Chile increased significantly to a high of more than 17,000 acres (2006) after DNA analysis in 1997 identified vines previously thought to be Merlot to be Carmenère. 128 Robinson, et al., WINE GRAPES, 2012, at p. 191; Galet, Pierre, supra, 1998, at p. 73.
As has been true for the other black grapes from Bordeaux, genetics explains the confusion. Carmenère and Merlot share one parent, Cabernet franc. The other parent for Carmenère is an old French cultivar named Gros Cabernet. 129 Robinson, et al., WINE GRAPES, 2012, at pp. 190-191; Boursiquot et al., 2009, at page 153.
There are small plantings of Carmenère in California amounting to 68 total acres in 2017. 130 Robinson, et al., WINE GRAPES, 2012, at pp. 190-191; Boursiquot et al., 2009, at page 153. FPS has both public and proprietary selections of the variety.
Two Carmenère selections were imported to Foundation Plant Services in 1988 from the Istituto Sperimentale per la Viticoltura (now the Centro di Ricerca per la Viticoltura) in Conegliano, Italy, as part of the Winegrowers' Project.
One of the 1988 importations was Carmenère clone R9 which was imported directly to FPS from Italy and underwent microshoot tip tissue culture therapy. The selection qualified for the foundation vineyard in 2003 as Carmenère 03.
The second Carmenère selection from Italy in 1988 came to FPS from the same Istituto (Conegliano) through the importation program at Oregon State University with the label "Italian clone R9 of Cabernet franc" (formerly named Cabernet franc 07 at FPS). Subsequent DNA testing revealed the correct identification to be Carmenère. The name of the selection was changed to Carmenère 06 when the selection was released in 2009.
The FPS foundation grapevine collection includes a third public selection of the variety, Carmenère 07.1. The selection originated from Bordeaux and was donated to FPS by Darden Vineyard, Healdsburg, California. The original material was reportedly sent to the United States in 1994 by Louis Pierre Pradier from Blanquefort (Gironde) in Bordeaux. The selection came through the quarantine programs in Saanichton, British Columbia, and Geneva, New York. Guenoc Winery in Lake County, California, acquired the material from the Geneva station. The winery's association with the clone led to the name "Guenoc clone". The material was donated to the FPS public foundation collection in 2010 by Mrs. Anna Darden of Healdsburg, California. After undergoing microshoot tip tissue culture therapy at FPS, the selection qualified for the Russell Ranch Vineyard in 2013.
There are two proprietary Carmenère selections in the FPS foundation vineyards. Carmenère 02 from Vivai Cooperativi Rauscedo was imported in 1998 from Italy and is VCR clone 702. Carmenère ENTAV-INRA® 1059 was added to the foundation vineyard in 2006 and is the authorized French clone 1059. Both clones may be obtained through official licensees.
The black grapes of Bordeaux described in this chapter have been used to make quality wines for centuries. The FPS foundation grapevine collection contains many diverse selections from which to choose. The sixth black grape of Bordeaux is Malbec, which is profiled in the following Chapter.