On this past Monday, the California Assembly voted to approve HR 9, a resolution that recognizes the contribution that living historic vineyards have made, and continue to make to the agricultural and social history of California. HR 9 was introduced by Assemblymember Tom Daly (District 69, Anaheim) and is supported by the Historic Vineyard Society.

In the past, I wrote a story about this group: Historic Vineyard Society ~ This is a group, even though I’m not involved, that’s near and dear to my heart.

I see two major components for this bill: Zinfandel and Petite Sirah. While there’s plenty of Zinfandel planted round the state, there are only 8,000 precious acres of Petite.  It’s a sad day when grape growers decide to rip out old vines… alas…

San Francisco Chronicle Story ~ by Jon Bonné, October 29, 2012: Two months ago, Andy Beckstoffer’s Bourn vineyard was full of fruit – old, hearty Cabernet and Petite Sirah in what’s better known to some as part of the Hayne vineyard.

Beckstoffer – Napa’s most famous vineyard owner – said when he bought the parcel in December 2010 he was “honored and proud” that the Hayne family, whose ancestors acquired the land when Ulysses S. Grant was president, was entrusting it to him.

“These old vineyards,” he said then, “capture the best qualities and character of our valley, and it is critical that we preserve them.”

Last week, the familiar wooden sign proclaiming “Beckstoffer Vineyards” sat in front of an empty dirt field.

“He pulled it out the day after he picked it,” says William Alston “Otty” Hayne, who farms the remainder of his family’s vineyard.

From Joel Peterson at the California Assembly meeting: “We would first like to express our gratitude to Assemblymember Daly, staff member David Miller, the Assembly and the winemakers and vineyard managers who joined us today in Sacramento. Like Redwoods, Sequoias and Monterey Cypress trees, historic vineyards are living California ambassadors. The recognition given by the Assembly today will help to ensure that more of these beautiful vines can survive to provide enjoyment to wine lovers throughout California and the world.”

The Historic Vineyard Society is a 501(c)(3) non-profit dedicated to the preservation of California’s oldest living vineyards. More information on the Historic Vineyard Society can be found at www.historicvineyardsociety.org

Contacts: Mike Dildine (Historic Vineyard Society) 831-747-0255 and David Miller (Assemblymember Daly) 916-319-2621

From a press release: The Bill’s Text

WHEREAS, California’s living and producing historic vineyards that were planted in the late 19th century through the mid-20th century still make a significant contribution to the state’s economy and reputation as a global wine growing region; and

WHEREAS, Historic vineyards are found throughout California, east from the Sierra foothills and San Joaquin County, west to the Sonoma coast, north to Mendocino, and south to the Cucamonga Valley; and

WHEREAS, Historic vineyards are beautiful and treasured survivors that have lived through the ravages of phylloxera, economic downturns, consumer popularity fluctuations, and in many cases, prohibition and world wars; and

WHEREAS, These historic vineyards provide an important living repository for wine grape budwood and genetic material; and

WHEREAS, Historic vineyards often provide a living window on past vineyard practices including, but not limited to, head-trained vines and dry farming; and

WHEREAS, The interplanted field blends of grape varieties that were a common practice of the immigrant farmers who planted California vineyards in the past characterize an era of agricultural practice and impart wine attributes that are uniquely Californian; and

WHEREAS, Fragile older vines are often less productive than younger vines and can require special care to maintain; and

WHEREAS, Most historic vineyards are family owned and exist by virtue of the passion of their caretakers; and

WHEREAS, The wine made from California’s historic vineyards continues to delight wine lovers throughout the world and imparts prestige to the state as a place to live, work, and visit; now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the Assembly of the State of California, That the Assembly recognizes the contribution of California’s living historic vineyards to the agricultural and social heritage of the state as well as to the enjoyment of wine enthusiasts throughout California and the world; and be it further

Resolved, That the Chief Clerk of the Assembly transmit copies of this resolution to the author for appropriate distribution.

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