"My first experience in planting a new vineyard was in 1968.
- Ren Harris
The biggest improvement in my fifty plus years in the Napa Valley world of wine is the choice and quality of plant material. Back in the 1960's we had two rootstock varieties, AXR and St. George, to choose from and the budwood to bud onto the rootstock usually came from a neighboring vineyard that appeared free of disease. The AXR rootstock proved susceptible to phyloxera and well over half the vineyards in Napa Valley had to be replanted between 1987 and 1991. (At Paradigm we had to replant about half the vineyard.) St. George is still in use, but usually only on hillsides where the St. George vigor is regarded as a plus.
Selecting budwood from a nearby vineyard had its problems in that disease would often be present but not yet obvious to the naked eye. Also the actual grape variety was sometimes wrong.
Today there are dozens of rootstocks to choose from and they can be tailored to climate, exposure, soil and eventual tonnage. Budwood is most often from a certified nursery and grafted to the rootstock at the nursery prior to delivery to the vineyard (bench grafts). Both the rootstock and the budwood are tested for disease by the nursery and usually retested by the vineyard owner prior to acceptance.
At Paradigm, in addition to our 38 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon are 10 acres of Merlot, 2 acres of Cabernet Franc, 1.5 acres of Zinfandel and 1 acre of Petit Verdot.
Today, at Paradigm, we have six different clones of Cabernet Sauvignon budded to three different roots and we will be adding another clone (169) and another rootstock (Schwarzmann) this Spring. All our plantings since 1986 have been on rootstock that has been tested and certified disease free; they bear the names 101-14, 5C & 1616-C. 412, 30, 6 & Jenkins (which we had not tested). We also have several acres of the See Clone of Cabernet which was not certified when we planted it."
Reconnaissance overview of the geology of Paradigm Vineyards
A brief report by David G. Howell for Ren Harris
February 15, 2016
The Paradigm vineyard lies between the Yountville Hill and the foothills of the Mayacamas Mountains. The vineyard lies solely on a northeast trending alluvial fan sourced from an unnamed drainage north of Hopper Creek (figure 1). The watershed for the fan reaches to the crest of the ridge between Dry Creek and the Napa Valley. The geology of the area from east to west involves: ~ 9 to 2.7 million year old andesite volcanic rocks of the Sonoma volcanic, the West Napa fault and the ~ 140 to ~ 80 million year old quartz-feldspar sedimentary strata of the Great Valley sequence (GVs) - deep sea sediments sourced from the then active Sierra Nevada volcanic arc (figure 2).
The fan is of very low relief dipping gently to the northeast. Total relief from the RR tracks to the top of the fan is ~ 30 meters. The material of the fan is clay, sand and rock fragments up to 5 inches in size. Most of the material is smaller that half an inch. The dark soil is rich in organic material. A random sampling of 100 pebbles indicates over 95 percent of the rock fragments are volcanic. Rare but distinctive quartz rich sandstone were sampled. The finer grained shale of the Great Valley sequence likely makes up much of the clay fraction found in the vineyard. The Paradigm vineyard occupies a geologic space comparable to the vineyards directly North of Paradigm, albeit the Paradigm fan is smaller in size.
The Oakville district was one of the first distinctive wine growing regions within Napa Valley to be officially recognized when it was granted AVA (American Viticultural Area) status in 1993. Today, the Oakville Winegrowers’ Association boasts more than 70 growers and wineries.
The Oakville district of Napa Valley is so influential that a simple recitation of prominent Oakville winegrowers, from pioneers Robert Mondavi and Joseph Heitz to powerhouse brands Groth, Far Niente, and Opus One, through “cult Cabernet” producers Dalla Valle, Harlan Estate and Screaming Eagle, tells the condensed story of Oakville.
For more about the Oakville AVA, see the Oakville Winegrowers website.