Founded in 1895, the vineyard already has a long history of research and clonal trials. Dr Harold Olmo of UC Davis established a clonal station at the Larkmead estate in the 1940s, where he developed the widely-planted Cabernet Saouvignon clone FPS 02 or ‘Oakville selection’, which was fundamental in establishing Cabernet Sauvignon as California’s signature grape variety.
However, facing the reality of onset climate change, the new viticultural research block will plant grape varieties that could be better suited to increasing average temperatures.
The Research Block is being spearheaded by lauded winemaker Dan Petroski and viticulturist Kelly Maher, and will be supervised by vineyard manager Nabor Camarena. The three-acre plot will be planted to multiple heritage varieties including Chenin Blanc, Petite Sirah and Zinfandel, alongside new world, Mediterranean varieties such as Aglianico, Tempranillo, and Touriga Nacional.
“In order to determine the best path forward for the future and for our unique climate and terroir, we need to continue to experiment,” said viticulturist Kelly Maher.
“We’re planning on testing different varieties, rootstocks, cover crops, and more. The goal is to have more biodiversity and climate resilient vineyards while continuing to produce better and better wines.”
Climate change is affecting vintners around the world by affecting the suitability of land for growing vines, or the varieties of grape which best thrive in each region.