The results from our vineyard grafting experiment are nearly complete, and I’m very pleased with the first estate Malbec grapes that will be harvested in early October.
Using soil-mapping study findings, we grafted two under-performing Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard blocks and one Merlot block over to Malbec and Petit Verdot. The transformation of the vineyards over the last 16 months is really amazing. Back in 2011, once the vines had been converted to new varieties, I talked about the grafting process here on the blog and posted a grafting demonstration video. It’s included it below, so you can see the complete transformation.
The grafting project outcome has been beyond my expectations. Yesterday, Assistant Winemaker Maggie Kruse and I walked through the new Malbec blocks and tasted the grapes. Maggie was really impressed with the flavor concentration in the grapes for a one-year-old grafted vineyard in mid-August. The sugar levels in the grapes are much higher at this point in the growing season than was the case when the vineyard grew Cabernet. If Malbec continues to perform well on the estate, we may continue expanding the grafting program. Winemaker Rob Davis loves to blend a little Malbec with our Cabernet Sauvignon to enhance the mouthfeel.
I look forward to tasting the grapes again with Rob and the winemaking team in a few weeks, and hopefully the vines will continue to mature and their fruit will be worthy of the Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon master blend by 2013. The grafted Petit Verdot blocks are looking really good as well, but that Bordeaux variety ripens later than Malbec, so we should begin the sampling process in the next two weeks.
2011 Grafting Demonstration Video: