It takes quite a carrot to lure David Abreu, the most sought-after vineyard manager in California, beyond his self-prescribed Napa Valley turf in Oakville, Rutherford and St. Helena. But Fred and Juelle Fisher, founders of Sonoma County's Fisher Vineyards, convinced him to oversee the replanting of their Wedding Vineyard, 10 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon on their estate in the eastern Mayacamas Mountains.
"David knew we've had great results getting distinctive wines from this site," said Fred. "We walked the vineyard for three hours and he liked what he saw. He has great confidence it will only be better [after the replanting]."
During the project, the Fishers will reduce production of their Wedding Vineyard-designated Cabernet Sauvignon to about 250 cases year. (Previously, annual production has ranged from 300 to 900 cases, with yields decreasing as the vines have gotten older.) About six acres have been torn up and will be replanted this year. The remaining acreage is slated for replanting once the new vines come into production in 2005.
The site, which is called the Wedding Vineyard because Fred and Juelle were married there in 1975, was planted in 1974 when wide spacing between vines (eight feet) and between rows (12 feet) was the norm in California. The new plots will have a 3-foot by 6-foot layout, which will not only increase yields, but should also foster competition between vines, which can maximizes concentration in the grapes. Plus, with the new vines trellised closer to the ground, radiated heat will help ripen grapes more quickly.
Fisher, who was trained as an engineer, has been bowled over by the precision of the Abreu crews. "I wish I had the right words to describe the perfection of the grid," he said. "Nothing is out of position."
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