Monday, May 19, 2008

Young Oak Vineyards - Vol. 5: Grafting Clones

February 17, 2008

Hi all:

GRAPEVINEWe left off with the question of what is a grapevine "clone". Sounds like something from "Dolly the Sheep" !! But "vegetative cloning" has been done for thousands of years. The earliest record of grafting is from China around 5,000 B.C by a diplomat's work on peach trees. The Romans were famous for their grafted olive trees.

A "vegetative clone" is a plant that has been reproduced without a seed, directly from a bud or a shoot. In fact, the Greek origin of the word "clone" means "twig". This asexual method of reproducing guarantees that the offspring will be genetically identical to the original single parent plant.

To do this in grapevines, a cutting is made from a shoot, the new growth from the cordons that become the fruiting canes of the desired grapevine (see diagram above), and then grafted, literally spliced together, to a desired grapevine rootstock shoot (see diagram below). Care is taken that the root side of the cuttings are oriented downward and the leaf sides are oriented upwards, so that when the grafted cutting is placed in the soil root side down, it will sprout roots and the leaf side will sprout leaves. And so it is allowed to propagate in a nursery, and then the new little plant is potted for planting in a vineyard.
In our case, the "Foxy Grape" rootstock that Duarte Nursery currently had available was #3309C with the Vitis vinifera Cabernet Sauvignon Clone #06 grafted to it. This clone was developed in Jackson, California as a "Good Blending Choice For Ultra-Premium Wine Programs" [Link to Duarte's Facebook Page]

I have listed Duarte's notes below:

Attributes - Good choice for diversification. Lowest yielding cab clone (60% of Clone 7 or 8). Best on high density spacing. Excellent wine quality. High skin to pulp ratio. Small to medium size, loose clusters, variable size berries

Tasting Notes - Aroma: vanilla, black olive, soy, cinnamon, clove. Flavor: berry, olive.

This is a really nice, high quality Cabernet Sauvignon grape. Its yield (the number and size of grapes) is less than other clones, but the wine it produces is superior. The #3309C rootstock needs good drainage and I think that with our slope we will have that. And although it is not the "La Cuesta" clone, this is a really high end grape used in very fine wines! Sounds good to me, so ... , this is what we bought and what you will be planting in 18 days!! My son, Scott & I will be picking up our vines on Friday, February 29th, fresh from the nursery !! They are already propagated little potted plants, that can be planted anytime of the year, so let's do it !!

Regards from down in the vineyard, John Sphar

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