In the (Experimental) Vineyard at Domaine de la Côte

In California's Sta. Rita Hills AVA, Sashi Moorman gave us a look at an experimental Pinot Noir vineyard planted to seedlings in 2007 at Domaine de la Côte. Here are Wine Spectator senior editor James Molesworth's notes: Among the most interesting patch of vines I’ve ever seen is an experimental plot of Pinot Noir vines developed by Parr and Moorman at Domaine de la Côte. The block of vines was developed from seeds, rather than propagated budwood (think of the extra work needed to grow your own tomatoes in a garden from seed, rather than buying the already started plants). 20,000 seeds were gathered from a parcel of Pinot Noir vines in the Occidental area of the Sonoma Coast that has only heirloom clones (Mt. Eden, Swan, Calera, School House). Those 20,000 seeds germinated 10,000 vines, which were then planted at Domaine de la Côte in a 1-acre block in 2007. Of those, 5,000 survived. While vines propagated from budwood take three years before bearing fruit, the vines developed from seeds took several more years to start producing fruit—and not all of them have yet done so. The project's intended goal is to find a new clonal selection of Pinot Noir that is naturally adapted to the Sta. Rita Hills climate and terroir. The project is continuing.