Visitors to Talley Vineyards often notice the large fallow sections of the West Rincon Vineyard immediately outside the windows of our Tasting Room. These are some of the original vineyard blocks planted by my father back in 1982 and 1983, when I was still in high school. Many people ask why they are fallow and what we plan to do in these areas. The vines were removed in 2010 and 2012 because both production and quality had declined to the point that they weren’t viable to continue farming. This was largely due to the leaf roll and red blotch grapevine viruses which are now affecting vineyards, especially older plantings, throughout California. In addition to reducing berry size and cluster weight (which reduces crop) these viruses adversely affect photosynthesis and inhibit ripening (which lowers quality).
A key element of our mission at Talley Vineyards and Talley Farms is to do our very best with our land. This means that when we have areas in our vineyards or elsewhere in our farming operations that are underperforming, we do whatever it takes to improve them. Generally, this consists of focusing on vine or plant health, sometimes it means replanting, and other times it means changing the crop that we grow entirely. Sections of the Rincon Vineyard, Rosemary’s Vineyard, Las Ventanas and Oliver’s Vineyard were all planted to vegetables before they were converted to vineyards. The best part of Rosemary’s Vineyard was an avocado orchard before it was planted to chardonnay and pinot noir. In every case, we have better results with vines in these areas.
I am convinced that the highest and best use for land in the West Rincon Vineyard is pinot noir, largely because we have produced some of the very best pinot noir in our history from the very land that is currently fallow and which we will replant with that variety in 2015 and 2016. In the East Rincon Vineyard, much the same thing is happening, though in that case we are currently removing chardonnay with the intention to replant with chardonnay in 2016 and 2017. Check out this short video to see how we remove the vines. We are planting the vines that I hope will someday become the backbone of the Rincon Vineyard Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, perhaps when my grandchildren are in high school. That’s truly the long view.
Best wishes to you and your family this holiday season!