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Variety,Viticulture,Winery

If I say “Wente Clone,” you say, “Chardonnay” If I say “Clone 7 or 8,” you say “Cabernet”

But… I say, Concannon…

It’s just amazing to me that on one side of Tesla Road in unpretentious Livermore Valley, Chardonnay was taken to UC Davis for a clean budwood program headed by Dr. Harold Olmo; and, on the other side of the road Caberent was also chosen from the Concannon Vineyards.

Pour yourself a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon from Concannon (or your favorite winery in any other valley, for-that-matter) and it’s likely you’ll be sipping wine born from Concannon’s Clones 7 and/or 8. It was Concannon Vineyard that offered the wine industry their famous Cabernet Sauvignon 7 and 8 Clones, during the California wine industry’s twentieth-century renaissance, which all began in the 1970s.

Clones 7 and 8 are widely recognized as prolific planting material within the U.S. wine industry. Dr. Harold Olmo, celebrated viticulturist from the University of California, worked with Joseph Concannon to catalogue what would become the most favored Cabernet Sauvignon plant material for viticulturists and winemakers from the early 1970s, Clone 7 and 8.

People in the industry are well aware that the ‘Concannon clones’ — Cabernet Sauvignon clones 7 and 8 have been the backbone of the great California Cabernet vineyards for decades.

To better determine the performance of California’s most significant clones, UC Davis’s Foundation Plant Materials Service conducted three clonal trials in 1981, in order to understand their performance. Started in Napa Valley at Beaulieu Vineyards, it included the following:

  • Concannon Clones 07-08
  • Concannon Clone 11
  • Oakville 11V
  • Jackson, CA G8V10
  • Californian Vineyard 22-23
  • Mendoza, Argentina 04
  • Mendoza, Argentina 05
  • Neustadt, W. Germany 10
  • Chile 12 Chile 13-14-15
  • Chile 16-17-18
  • Chile 19
  • Chile 21

From three trials, the rating of FPMS clones was established, and it was concluded that Concannon’s Clones 07, 08, and 11 were the highest producing.

In a search for more information about the use of Concannon’s clones, Jim Concannon personally wrote the following to Dr. James Wolpert, former UC Davis’s Department Chair for Viticulture & Enology. “Dear Dr. Wolpert: Many years ago my late brother Joe worked very closely with the viticulture department at Davis. Unfortunately most records on the background of the Cabernet Sauvignon Clones 7 and 8 were not kept at the winery. Since these clones are so widely used and were developed with the help of my brother Joe, I would be interested in obtaining information on them.”

In response, Dr. Wolpert wrote back to Jim, “It is good to hear from someone with the last name of Concannon. That selection of Cabernet Sauvignon is not only one of the most widely planted, but one of the most highly regarded. It comprises most of our plantings at our department’s (UC Davis) Oakville vineyard, where it makes exceptional wines.” [Used with the permission of Dr. James Wolpert and Jim Concannon, August 19, 2004]

According to Senior Writer Lynn Alley, and Deborah A. Golino (Director of the FPMS at Davis), many of the clonal selections Dr. Harold Olmo developed enriched the FPMS collection and are the industry standards today, such as FPMS Chardonnay Selection 04 (Wente Vineyards) and Cabernet Sauvignon Selection 08 (Concannon Vineyard). [Alley, Lynn and Golino, Deborah A., The Originals of the Grape Program at Foundation Plant Materials Service, © 2000 by the American Society of Enology and Viticulture]

Quoting Paul Harvey… “And now you know the rest of the story!”

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