Chardonnay is Coming!
Chardonnay on The Way at Bishop Creek Vineyard
The life of a vine is measured in decades, not years. It takes three years until a new vine produces fruit that can be harvested and five to eight years before a full crop of high-quality wine grapes are produced. Planting a new vineyard, then, is a long term endeavor that requires patience and fortitude. Top-grafting, however, grants us the ability to change the vineyard and harvest new fruit without the longer patience required for new plantings.
By top-grafting, we remove the top head of the vine, eliminating completely the top plant material and leaving only the root system and trunk of the vine. A highly-skilled crew then uses dormant budwood collected during the pruning season and attaches this new scion material to the rootstock through a series of skilled cuts, winding tape around the plant (as shown above) to hold the new union together and painting the tape over with tar. This allows the root system to push sap into the new plant material without pushing the plant material off the rootstock.
There is a significant amount of aftercare through the next season and into the following year, making small cuts along the trunk to allow the excess sap to flow out of the truck rather than forcing the smaller grafted plant material off the graft. Because the root system is larger and more established than the small scion material, it's important to give a “release” to the extra sap generated by the established roots. The developed root systems of the older vine mean that after, a few years, the new plant is actually producing a full crop and, if successful, has converted a vineyard that may not have been desired into a new vineyard producing the grapes selected for the winery.
At Bishop Creek, we top-grafted our high elevation Pinot Gris to Chardonnay in two stages. These vines, originally planted in 1998 and 2000, located at 750 feet on ancient marine sediment soil, after 2 and 3 years post-grafting, are now producing a full crop of Chardonnay. The minerality and beautiful fruit flavors coming from the older vine Chardonnay is incredibly exciting and matches the beauty of the Pinot Noir we’ve come to love from Bishop Creek and we can't wait to share them with you!
Our Chardonnay will be available exclusively by allocation to members of our Confrerie. Join today and receive bottles this fall!
- Associate Winemaker Tracy Kendall