Cabernet Sauvignon,Variety,Viticulture,Wine,Wine Blogger,Winery

It all Began in the Livermore Valley… Cabernet Sauvignon Clones 07 and 08 Originated at Concannon Vineyard

With Concannon Vineyard on one side of Tesla Road, and Wente Vineyards on the other, these two Livermore wineries offered the wine industry their clones for widespread plantings:

  • Wente’s Chardonnay Clone
  • Concannon’s most popular Clone 07-08, the much planted Cabernet Sauvignon Clone

Clones 07 and 08 are widely understood as prolific planting material within the U.S. wine industry, but who it is attributed to hasn’t been recognized since Dr. Harold Olmo completed his checklist of California grapes in 1964, in which he cataloged 22 rootstocks among other viticultural statistics. At that time, Dr. Olmo and Joseph Concannon worked together on what would become the most favored Cabernet Sauvignon plant material for viticulturist and winemakers from the early 1970s and on.

Dr. Harold Olmo’s efforts to improve California’s grape planting materials began in 1931. He was hired by Albert Winkler to succeed F.T. Bioletti’s ampelographic expertise. Dr. Olmo began his grape breeding program at the University of California at Davis. Most famous worldwide for his grape breeding program and his ampelographic proficiency, he also worked tirelessly to improve several rootstocks, until his retirement in 1979. Many grape species were acquired from not only worldwide sources, but Olmo also collected many species from the United States, including Concannon’s famous Clones 7 and 8.

According to M. Andrew Walker “He began his clonal work by selecting variants in vineyards across the State emphasizing good cluster formation, high yields, fruit quality, and disease-free status with varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Burger, Semillon, and Riesling…”[1]

In 1981, according to John Caldwell,[2]  UC Davis’s Foundation Plant Materials Service conducted three clonal trials in order to understand their performance. Started in Napa Valley at Beaulieu Vineyards, it included the following FPMS Clone #s.

  • 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

On John Caldwell’s Website, Concannon is referred to as the “mother” source for Clone 8. It is also noted “… the most popular clone in California, Clone 8.” [3]

Michael Silacci and his staff conducted most of the research, studying the vines for six years. Beginning in 1991 at Gristina Vineyards in Cuthogue, NY, another six years of data was collected in which all but a few of the Chile clones were again used. The final research was performed by J. Wolpert, A.N. Kasimatis, and P.S. Verdegaal. From these three trials, the rating of FPMS clones was established, and it was concluded that Concannon’s Clones 7, 8, and 11 were the highest producing.

In a search for more information, Jim Concannon personally wrote the following to Dr. James Wolpert, 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 & 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 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 Oakville vineyard, where it makes exceptional wines.”[4]

According to Senior Writer Lynn Alley, and Deborah A. Golino (Director of the FPMS at Davis), “Both Olmo and his protégée Curtis Alley believed that it was possible to improve grape varieties by clonal selection. Over the years, they collected clones of important grape selections and conducted studies of their performance. Many of the clonal selections they developed enriched the FPMS collection and are the industry standards today, such as FPMS Chardonnay Selection 4 and Cabernet Sauvignon Selection 8.[5] (Concannon’s)

It is with great pride that Concannon Vineyard Clones 7 & 8 have been widely recognized by these industry leaders for having set the standard of excellence for Cabernet Sauvignon.

Literature and/or Sources Cited

[1]  Walker, M. Andrew, UC Davis’ Role in Improving California’s Grape Planting Materials, © 2000 by the American Society of Enology and Viticulture

[2]  Caldwell, John, A Concise Guide to Wine Grape Clones for Professionals, John Caldwell Viticultural Services, Second Edition

[3]  www.caldwellvineyard.com

[4]  Used with the permission of Dr. James Wolpert and Jim Concannon, August 19, 2004

[5]  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

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