Thursday, March 2, 2017

Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard: History, configuration, and vineyard management

When my good friend Adam Chilvers of Orlando-based online retailer Wine on the Way invited me to accompany his PNV 2017 group on a tour of the Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard -- said tour to be led by Tor Kenward of Tor Kenward Family Vineyards -- I jumped at the opportunity. When Adam called me again a few weeks later and said that Andy Beckstoffer -- proprietor of the named vineyard -- would be accompanying us on the walk-through, I jumped even higher.

Having previously written on the history of the broader To Kalon Vineyard, I saw this as an opportunity to walk on the hallowed ground that had supported the production of exceedingly high-quality grapes for well over a century as well as to hear from one of the legends who had maintained and brightened the flame. Before I describe the tour, I would like to provide some background on the subject vineyard.

The figure below summarizes the history of the Beckstoffer To Kalon vineyard.

Deriving from the original plots purchased by Hamilton Crabb in the latter part of the 19th Century, this specific component was first broken out when it was sold to Beaulieu Vineyard where it was given the designation Vineyard #4 and gained renown as the home of the great Georges de Latour Cabernet Sauvignons created by Andre Tchelistcheff. The vineyard was acquired by Andy Beckstoffer in 1993 where it today has pride of place in his stable of Heritage Vineyards.

The Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard, illustrated graphically in the map below, is located on the western edge of the Oakville AVA. The table below the map shows the distribution of varieties and clones in the vineyard today. The current distribution was arrived at in a replanting program that was rolled out between 1994 and 1997.

Table 1: Distribution of Varieties and Clones in Beckstoffer to Kalon Vineyard
Variety Clone Rootstock   Acres Cab Sauv % Cab Franc%
Cabernet Sauvignon 4 039-16   37.9 48
357 039-16   31.92 31.92
7 039-16   4.3 6
6 039-16   4.29 5
  Total   78.41 100
Cabernet Franc 1 039-16   4.63 100

According to information gleaned from Beckstoffer Vineyards, the soils are 60% Bale loam and 40% Bale clay loam. These soils provide quality drainage and adequate rooting depth as a result of loam in the first 24 inches and a gravelly loam in the subsequent 24 inches.

Vineyard management is the purview of the Beckstoffer team (the winemaker has responsibility for pick date and yields) and they have opted for the following management configuration:

Trellis System:      Vertical shoot positioning
Row Orientation:  Northwest by Southeast
Vine Spacing:        82% 6 x 7 (1037 vines/acre)
                               18% 8 x 7 (778 vines/acre)
Pruning:                Spur-Pruned to a bi-lateral cordon system

The actual vineyard tour will be discussed in a subsequent post.

©Wine -- Mise en abyme

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