Some of California's most famous wines came from a science experiment.

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Blake Brown
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Some of California's most famous wines came from a science experiment.

#1 Post by Blake Brown » October 1st, 2019, 6:49 pm

"In victory you deserve Champagne. In defeat, you need it".
Napolean Bonaparte

“Remember gentlemen, it’s not just France we are fighting for, it’s Champagne!” – Winston Churchill

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Re: Some of California's most famous wines came from a science experiment.

#2 Post by Nathan Smyth » October 1st, 2019, 7:24 pm

1) Does anyone know what the Santa Ynez dirt would have cost, back circa 1970, in terms of dollar per acre? [Because my impression is that, nowadays, you don't start an operation like that in California without Daddy Warbucks as a business partner.]

2) I have a memory [in the last few years] of reading about someone who was trying to grow grapes again out on Santa Cruz Island - I have a strong feeling that there was a thread about it here at Wine Berserkers - but my Google-Fu doesn't seem to be up to the task of finding that old thread.

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Re: Some of California's most famous wines came from a science experiment.

#3 Post by R_Gilbane » October 1st, 2019, 7:27 pm

I don't know for sure but I heard from someone I trust that Daddy Warbucks is not a good business partner.
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Re: Some of California's most famous wines came from a science experiment.

#4 Post by Nathan Smyth » October 1st, 2019, 7:41 pm

R_Gilbane wrote:
October 1st, 2019, 7:27 pm
I don't know for sure but I heard from someone I trust that Daddy Warbucks is not a good business partner.
Seriously, though, can you purchase any quality dirt in California these days for less than about $150,000 per acre?

Because the pictures of that spread in the article do not look to me like anything which could be purchased by a "Scientist" in 2019.

It's awesome if Normies [to include mere "Scientists"] could have purchased that spread back in 1970, but nowadays, that's a fantasy [bordering on a ludicrous delusion] for a Normie.

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Re: Some of California's most famous wines came from a science experiment.

#5 Post by R_Gilbane » October 1st, 2019, 7:48 pm

Probably but monetizing it would require multiples of upfront equity invested.
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Re: Some of California's most famous wines came from a science experiment.

#6 Post by larry schaffer » October 1st, 2019, 9:20 pm

Nathan Smyth wrote:
October 1st, 2019, 7:24 pm

2) I have a memory [in the last few years] of reading about someone who was trying to grow grapes again out on Santa Cruz Island - I have a strong feeling that there was a thread about it here at Wine Berserkers - but my Google-Fu doesn't seem to be up to the task of finding that old thread.
Rusack Winery, owned by members of the Wrigley family, have planted a vineyard on Catalina Island and ate producing Zinfandel, among other varieties. They have plans to build a production facility out there as well.

Cheers
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Re: Some of California's most famous wines came from a science experiment.

#7 Post by Ken Zinns » October 1st, 2019, 9:41 pm

larry schaffer wrote:
October 1st, 2019, 9:20 pm
Nathan Smyth wrote:
October 1st, 2019, 7:24 pm

2) I have a memory [in the last few years] of reading about someone who was trying to grow grapes again out on Santa Cruz Island - I have a strong feeling that there was a thread about it here at Wine Berserkers - but my Google-Fu doesn't seem to be up to the task of finding that old thread.
Rusack Winery, owned by members of the Wrigley family, have planted a vineyard on Catalina Island and ate producing Zinfandel, among other varieties. They have plans to build a production facility out there as well.

Cheers
The Zinfandel for this project on Catalina did come from cuttings obtained from old vines on Santa Cruz Island. Good article about the Rusack project here:https://www.independent.com/2014/01/02/ ... ry-reborn/
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Re: Some of California's most famous wines came from a science experiment.

#8 Post by GregT » October 1st, 2019, 11:20 pm

Rusack Winery, owned by members of the Wrigley family, have planted a vineyard on Catalina Island and ate producing Zinfandel, among other varieties.
Why didn't they make wine????

neener
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Re: Some of California's most famous wines came from a science experiment.

#9 Post by John Morris » October 2nd, 2019, 6:07 am

Interesting article, Blake. Thanks for posting it. I was puzzled by one thing, though:
Putting two and two together, Benedict developed a model for an ideal vineyard environment with the marine layer influence. Armed with that information, he set off on a mission: to find a similar environment in which to plant a vineyard somewhere along the West Coast of North America. With his vines growing in a nursery, he traveled from the Todos Santos Valley in Baja California, Mexico, to the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, Canada, looking for land.
The Okanagan Valley is about 200 miles inland. I wonder if the impact of the lake provided the "marine influence."
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Re: Some of California's most famous wines came from a science experiment.

#10 Post by Blake Brown » October 2nd, 2019, 7:49 am

John Morris wrote:
October 2nd, 2019, 6:07 am
Interesting article, Blake. Thanks for posting it. I was puzzled by one thing, though:
Putting two and two together, Benedict developed a model for an ideal vineyard environment with the marine layer influence. Armed with that information, he set off on a mission: to find a similar environment in which to plant a vineyard somewhere along the West Coast of North America. With his vines growing in a nursery, he traveled from the Todos Santos Valley in Baja California, Mexico, to the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, Canada, looking for land.
The Okanagan Valley is about 200 miles inland. I wonder if the impact of the lake provided the "marine influence."
Good point John. I do not believe the layout of the land is such to allow for West to East ocean related wind flow like it is in the Santa Ynez Valley, in fact, when looking at a map of all of the wineries, they are located North to South as the valley runs. So, its really an entirely different topography/ dynamic than what Michael found.
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Re: Some of California's most famous wines came from a science experiment.

#11 Post by Blake Brown » October 2nd, 2019, 7:58 am

BTW, Michael and Richard Sanford were more in the hippy mode than anything else during this stage of their lives and did not have much more other than a lot of passion and heart. Money, not so much.

I have a couple of wines they made in the 70s that I`ll share with Richard when the occasion arises, one came from Chris Seiber who generously gave me a Cabernet to give to Richard. The vines planted to Cab were short lived s they discovered the varietal just did not work in this terroir.
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Re: Some of California's most famous wines came from a science experiment.

#12 Post by Anton D » October 2nd, 2019, 8:19 am

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Re: Some of California's most famous wines came from a science experiment.

#13 Post by John Morris » October 2nd, 2019, 8:33 am

Blake Brown wrote:
October 2nd, 2019, 7:49 am
John Morris wrote:
October 2nd, 2019, 6:07 am
Interesting article, Blake. Thanks for posting it. I was puzzled by one thing, though:
Putting two and two together, Benedict developed a model for an ideal vineyard environment with the marine layer influence. Armed with that information, he set off on a mission: to find a similar environment in which to plant a vineyard somewhere along the West Coast of North America. With his vines growing in a nursery, he traveled from the Todos Santos Valley in Baja California, Mexico, to the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, Canada, looking for land.
The Okanagan Valley is about 200 miles inland. I wonder if the impact of the lake provided the "marine influence."
Good point John. I do not believe the layout of the land is such to allow for West to East ocean related wind flow like it is in the Santa Ynez Valley, in fact, when looking at a map of all of the wineries, they are located North to South as the valley runs. So, its really an entirely different topography/ dynamic than what Michael found.
I assume it wasn't that he was looking for an east-west valley, per se. But, in the case of the Santa Ynez Valley, that orientation allows the prevailing western winds to blow fog into the valley, while most of the state's other valleys run north-south and are protected from the marine fog by hills/mountains. (Exceptions: the outer part of the Russian River Valley and the Anderson Valley.)

In the Okanagan, I wonder if there is fog from the lake that creates a similar effect. I haven't been up there in decades. It's quite warm on summer days, but it's far enough up in the mountains, that I can imagine it might be cool enough at night for moisture from the lake to condense.
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Re: Some of California's most famous wines came from a science experiment.

#14 Post by larry schaffer » October 2nd, 2019, 9:26 am

Blake Brown wrote:
October 2nd, 2019, 7:58 am
BTW, Michael and Richard Sanford were more in the hippy mode than anything else during this stage of their lives and did not have much more other than a lot of passion and heart. Money, not so much.

I have a couple of wines they made in the 70s that I`ll share with Richard when the occasion arises, one came from Chris Seiber who generously gave me a Cabernet to give to Richard. The vines planted to Cab were short lived s they discovered the varietal just did not work in this terroir.
Our tasting group opened a 1978 Sanford & Benedict Cabernet last December as part of in 1978 horizontal tasting from around the world. Though interesting to try, it did not show well compared to the others. Probably a good thing the vines were grafted over . . .

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Re: Some of California's most famous wines came from a science experiment.

#15 Post by Mark Cochard » October 2nd, 2019, 10:10 am

The Nielsen vineyard was planted in 1964, so was the 1st commercial vineyard in Santa Barbara County.

From my Power Point on North America
The Okanagan Valley is the continuation of the Sonoran dessert into Canada.
5 sub regions North to South Kelowna, Naramata, Okanagan Falls, Golden Mile and Black Sage/Osoyoos
49 – 50 degrees latitude
July and August are warmer than Napa, temps can exceed 40 degree C
Reds and Bordeaux varieties in the south with whites and lighter reds as you travel north,1200 degree days at Kelowna and 1500 in Black Sage/Osoyoos, 4 degree C difference from north to south
Lake Okanagan in the north at 144 kilometers long and 3.5 kilometers average width. It is over 750 meters at its deepest point and is the source of much-needed water for irrigation. With Skaha Lake, Vasseux lake around OK falls and Lake Ossoyos in the south.

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Re: Some of California's most famous wines came from a science experiment.

#16 Post by Nathan Smyth » October 2nd, 2019, 10:12 am

larry schaffer wrote:
October 1st, 2019, 9:20 pm
Nathan Smyth wrote:
October 1st, 2019, 7:24 pm

2) I have a memory [in the last few years] of reading about someone who was trying to grow grapes again out on Santa Cruz Island - I have a strong feeling that there was a thread about it here at Wine Berserkers - but my Google-Fu doesn't seem to be up to the task of finding that old thread.
Rusack Winery, owned by members of the Wrigley family, have planted a vineyard on Catalina Island and ate producing Zinfandel, among other varieties. They have plans to build a production facility out there as well.
Yeay, I googled last night, and found Rusack, but there didn't seem to be a corresponding thread about Rusack at Wine-Berserkers.

Maybe the thread I am thinking of was way back in the eBob or WLDG days.

PS: Is that Wrigley as in "Spearmint Gum" and "Chicago Cubs"?

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Re: Some of California's most famous wines came from a science experiment.

#17 Post by Nathan Smyth » October 2nd, 2019, 10:27 am

Blake Brown wrote:
October 2nd, 2019, 7:58 am
BTW, Michael and Richard Sanford were more in the hippy mode than anything else during this stage of their lives and did not have much more other than a lot of passion and heart. Money, not so much.
That's pretty much exactly what I was envisioning - a couple of guys with [essentially] no money, but with an idea, and some passion, and plenty of sweat equity to throw at the problem.

BTW, there are lots of reasons to despise the Millennials, but I feel a great deal of sympathy for them in that regard - the chance to strike it rich on a shoestring budget, with nothing but a wing & a prayer - those days are gone forever.

It's why all the poor Millennials are carrying so damned much debt - mortgaging their futures in the hope that being several hundred thousand dollars in debt for just an undergraduate degree might somehow give them a toe up on the competition, so that they could actually live in a dadgum 1200 sq ft house [which of course would require another $300,000 of debt on top of their student loan debt] - there's no hope for those kids.

It's mathematically impossible for them to grow up to be a Michael Benedict or a Richard Sanford.

The modern world is an abject obscenity.

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Re: Some of California's most famous wines came from a science experiment.

#18 Post by Mel Knox » October 2nd, 2019, 11:02 am

Clendenen and Tolmach started ABC with very little. As late as 1975 producing vineyards in this area could be had for $5000 an acre ... sometimes less.

I d have to work on this more carefully but I think you could start a wine project for less than $200K

The secret is in selling wine quickly
Last edited by Mel Knox on October 2nd, 2019, 11:12 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Some of California's most famous wines came from a science experiment.

#19 Post by Blake Brown » October 2nd, 2019, 11:08 am

Nathan Smyth wrote:
October 2nd, 2019, 10:12 am
larry schaffer wrote:
October 1st, 2019, 9:20 pm
Nathan Smyth wrote:
October 1st, 2019, 7:24 pm

2) I have a memory [in the last few years] of reading about someone who was trying to grow grapes again out on Santa Cruz Island - I have a strong feeling that there was a thread about it here at Wine Berserkers - but my Google-Fu doesn't seem to be up to the task of finding that old thread.
PS: Is that Wrigley as in "Spearmint Gum" and "Chicago Cubs"?
Yes, also as in Catalina Island
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Re: Some of California's most famous wines came from a science experiment.

#20 Post by R M Kriete » October 2nd, 2019, 11:09 am

Nathan Smyth wrote:
October 2nd, 2019, 10:27 am

It's why all the poor Millennials are carrying so damned much debt - mortgaging their futures in the hope that being several hundred thousand dollars in debt for just an undergraduate degree might somehow give them a toe up on the competition, so that they could actually live in a dadgum 1200 sq ft house [which of course would require another $300,000 of debt on top of their student loan debt] - there's no hope for those kids.

It's mathematically impossible for them to grow up to be a Michael Benedict or a Richard Sanford.

The modern world is an abject obscenity.
Yeah! Things were so much better in the past when you could just take the land from Native Americans. Stupid progress! [wink.gif]

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Re: Some of California's most famous wines came from a science experiment.

#21 Post by Blake Brown » October 2nd, 2019, 11:09 am

Mel Knox wrote:
October 2nd, 2019, 11:02 am
Clendenen and Tolmach started ABC with very little. As late as 1985 producing vineyards in this area could be had for $5000 an acre ... sometimes less.

I d have to work on this more carefully but I think you could start a wine project for less than $200K

The secret is in selling wine quickly
Quite true Mel. It helped that they sold GOOD wine quickly.
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Re: Some of California's most famous wines came from a science experiment.

#22 Post by Gabe Berk » October 2nd, 2019, 12:08 pm

Nathan Smyth wrote:
October 1st, 2019, 7:41 pm
R_Gilbane wrote:
October 1st, 2019, 7:27 pm
I don't know for sure but I heard from someone I trust that Daddy Warbucks is not a good business partner.
Seriously, though, can you purchase any quality dirt in California these days for less than about $150,000 per acre?
Some "quality" wineries are purchasing land in Lake County (boarders Napa County) for $30,000 an acre.

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Re: Some of California's most famous wines came from a science experiment.

#23 Post by John Morris » October 2nd, 2019, 12:23 pm

Mark Cochard wrote:
October 2nd, 2019, 10:10 am
From my Power Point on North America
The Okanagan Valley is the continuation of the Sonoran dessert into Canada.
5 sub regions North to South Kelowna, Naramata, Okanagan Falls, Golden Mile and Black Sage/Osoyoos
49 – 50 degrees latitude
July and August are warmer than Napa, temps can exceed 40 degree C
Reds and Bordeaux varieties in the south with whites and lighter reds as you travel north,1200 degree days at Kelowna and 1500 in Black Sage/Osoyoos, 4 degree C difference from north to south
Lake Okanagan in the north at 144 kilometers long and 3.5 kilometers average width. It is over 750 meters at its deepest point and is the source of much-needed water for irrigation. With Skaha Lake, Vasseux lake around OK falls and Lake Ossoyos in the south.
The climates are actually rather different, and they really diverge in September, presumably because of the difference in latitude. The BC Okanagan is roughly the latitude of Champagne.

In August, the average high in the mid-Napa Valley (St. Helena) is 89F vs 81F in Kelowna, on Lake Okanagan, and the average lows are 55F and 49F, respectively.

Come September, the average high in St. Helena is still 89F but it drops to 71F in Kelowna, and in October the average high plummets to 57F in Kelowna, vs. 78F in St. Helena.

The Osoyoos area is more like Napa temps in August, but the average high drops to the mid-70s there in September -- roughly 15 degrees cooler than St. Helena .

I'm still wondering what kind of "marine effect" they thought they were getting in the Okanagan. Maybe just those cool overnight temps in the summer. The depth of Lake Okanagan presumably keeps the water temperature quite low and moderates the daytime heat. (Your PowerPoint is wrong on the depth of Okanagan Lake. It's up to 760 feet deep, not meters: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Okanagan_Lake.)

Kelowna temps
Osoyoos temps
St. Helena temps
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Re: Some of California's most famous wines came from a science experiment.

#24 Post by Nathan Smyth » October 2nd, 2019, 12:38 pm

This is fascinating [especially, for me, the coincidence of it], and it's a remarkably honest concession on his part:
Trump Ag secretary: No guarantee small farms will survive
Posted: 11:24 AM, Oct 02, 2019
Updated: 2:46 PM, Oct 02, 2019
By: TODD RICHMOND, AP
https://www.nbc26.com/news/state/trump- ... ll-survive

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — President Donald Trump’s agriculture secretary said Tuesday during a stop in Wisconsin that he doesn’t know if the family dairy farm can survive as the industry moves toward a factory farm model...

“In America, the big get bigger and the small go out,” Perdue said. “I don’t think in America we, for any small business, we have a guaranteed income or guaranteed profitability...”

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Re: Some of California's most famous wines came from a science experiment.

#25 Post by Adam Frisch » October 2nd, 2019, 12:47 pm

Ken Zinns wrote:
October 1st, 2019, 9:41 pm
The Zinfandel for this project on Catalina did come from cuttings obtained from old vines on Santa Cruz Island. Good article about the Rusack project here:https://www.independent.com/2014/01/02/ ... ry-reborn/
...but the self-perpetuating hatred of Mission continues unabated. From article:

"So Geoff and his sons Austin and Parker (their third son, Hunter, was away at college), climbed the island’s willow tree, took clippings, had them analyzed (one plant was the notoriously nasty mission grape variety), and propagated the zinfandel."

This is from another winemaking book:


Mission-hate.jpg


It's obvious that most of these writers are just repeating what they've read in some old books as fact without ever having tried Mission, as it's demonstrably false.
Last edited by Adam Frisch on October 2nd, 2019, 12:56 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Some of California's most famous wines came from a science experiment.

#26 Post by Nathan Smyth » October 2nd, 2019, 12:49 pm

Mel Knox wrote:
October 2nd, 2019, 11:02 am
The secret is in selling wine quickly
The problem is in letting people know that you have wine to sell [and in convincing anyone to try tasting it - God forbid that they actually purchase it from you].

That's where the Financialization comes in - these days, you might be able to get an idea up & running for a few million dollars, but you'll need many orders of magnitude more money to get the general public to learn of the existence of your idea [and to get them to experiment with participating in your idea].

That's how we got the Tech monopolies we have today - gazillions of people all had similar ideas [back circa the mid-1990s], but only the people with access to Fake Money & Financialization were able to seize monopoly control.

Everyone else crashed & burned [because they weren't financialized].

PS: For the record, I'm not saying that a Roy Piper or a Brain Loring can't make it from scratch, but, for instance, [apparently] Andrew Vingiello just checked out of The Game.

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Re: Some of California's most famous wines came from a science experiment.

#27 Post by Ken Zinns » October 2nd, 2019, 1:10 pm

Adam Frisch wrote:
October 2nd, 2019, 12:47 pm
Ken Zinns wrote:
October 1st, 2019, 9:41 pm
The Zinfandel for this project on Catalina did come from cuttings obtained from old vines on Santa Cruz Island. Good article about the Rusack project here:https://www.independent.com/2014/01/02/ ... ry-reborn/
...but the self-perpetuating hatred of Mission continues unabated. From article:

"So Geoff and his sons Austin and Parker (their third son, Hunter, was away at college), climbed the island’s willow tree, took clippings, had them analyzed (one plant was the notoriously nasty mission grape variety), and propagated the zinfandel."

This is from another winemaking book:
Mission-hate.jpg

It's obvious that most of these writers are just repeating what they've read in some old books as fact without ever having tried Mission, as it's demonstrably false.
I noticed that in the article too, Adam. I've collected some other interesting written passages about Mission wine - I'm sure there was plenty of bad wine that was made from the variety but, as we both know, you can make some pretty good wine from it too.
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Re: Some of California's most famous wines came from a science experiment.

#28 Post by Adam Frisch » October 2nd, 2019, 2:41 pm

Ken Zinns wrote:
October 2nd, 2019, 1:10 pm

I noticed that in the article too, Adam. I've collected some other interesting written passages about Mission wine - I'm sure there was plenty of bad wine that was made from the variety but, as we both know, you can make some pretty good wine from it too.
Those wines must have been awful! Please send me some of those clippings Ken - love to read/see! [cheers.gif]
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Re: Some of California's most famous wines came from a science experiment.

#29 Post by Mel Knox » October 2nd, 2019, 2:42 pm

One big difference between now and when ABC started: there are about a jillion more wineries.

And not all of the wineries from back then made it either.

Making wine is fun; selling it... not so much.
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