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04.2014

Massachusetts Beverage Business

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OnWineReport

MAJOR NAPA REPLANT

THERE’S SOME MAJOR GARDENING taking place in Napa. A massive replanting that will uproot 15% of vineyards in Napa Valley over the next five to six years has begun. Jennifer Putnam, the Napa Valley Grapegrowers’ executive director, said nurseries were completely sold out of vines until 2O15, and that “we know these are not for new acres.” She added that it has been 2O years since a widely used rootstock from UC Davis proved not resistant to phylloxera, forcing many growers to replant. “This is an opportunity for Napa to re-evaluate, to reconsider what is planted where,” Putnam said. “The landscape may look different in 15 years.” An abundant 2O12 crop has given growers the optimism and cash flow they need to begin such an effort. Michael Monette of Sunridge Nurseries, one of the region’s largest suppliers of plant material, said, “In 14 years, I have never seen such strong demand.” That demand is complicated by the discovery of a virus called “red blotch disease” that causes lower sugar levels in red grape varieties. Growers waiting for clean plant material have created a bottleneck that has some orders on hold ’til 2O15. Longtime grower Andy Beckstoffer, who owns and manages some of the most expensive Cabernet Sauvignon vinyards in Napa Valley and was instrumental in the last two waves of plantings in the 197Os and again in the 199Os, says that things are different this time around. “In the ‘9Os we looked to Europe,” he said of the tight spacing and vertical trellising commonly employed. “Now we understand that we are very different [from Bordeaux]. We have to pay attention to our own terroir and not follow others.” As for what is being planted, Cabernet Sauvignon dominates by far – with Pinot Noir is a distant second; Chardonnay is the dominant white grape.

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