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Cargasacchi Vineyard is located just off Sweeney Road at the far western edge of the Sta. Rita Hills appellation. The soil type is the Botella Series, a composition of both clay and loam that has a fairly high calcareous content, which drains well and helps moderate yields. The twelve acres are all planted to Clone 115 Pinot Noir on two different rootstocks - 3309C and 420A. Please read Peter's explanation of his selection of clone and rootstocks below.

Most of the fruit from the vineyard is contracted to fellow winemakers, and only a small portion is reserved for Cargasacchi wines. Following are some observations from our winery clients:

We know of no other grower who is as sensitive to his site and his vines as Peter. His commitment is admirable, and his insatiable quest to further his knowledge and his vineyard is inspirational.

…one of the coolest sites of this cool AVA.

This small 16-acre vineyard has become one of the stars of the Santa Rita Hills appellation.

The Cargasacchi Vineyard remains one of our most prized vineyard sites. Not only are the wines grown in a particularly unique part of the Santa Rita Hills appellation but Peter Cargasacchi’s management of the vineyard is superb
Peter Cargasacchi has graciously agreed to sell me some of his killer Pinot Noir this year - and I'm one happy little winemaker. Peter is a great guy... but beware of his dry sense of humor!!
Cargasacchi Vineyard's fruit is the essence of St. Rita Hills and reasons why this area has become so popular in the short period of time. The area's rapid growth in quality is due to vineyards like Peter's, and in turn the growth in quality of our wines. Peter's hands on approach to his vineyard, and personal relationship to the winemaker and their desires maintains the strictest quality.
In the next 5 years, we will see 1,000 acres of new Pinot planted in our area, but I will always consider my mere 2 acres from Cargasacchi precious.
You see, with regard to his winegrowing, Peter Cargasacchi is nothing short of a full blown fanatic. He is haunted by visions of growing the kind of Pinot Noir that will eventually be considered some of the world’s finest.

SOILS

Overlooking the western Santa Ynez River, Cargasacchi vineyard is located on a south-facing slope of the Santa Rita Hills range. Low in nutrients and poorly suited for traditional coastal agriculture, the lean soils derive upslope from weathered and eroded parent materials consisting of an uplifted Miocene period seabed. This marine sedimentary rock formation forms the dorsal spine of the Sta. Rita Hills.

Over millennia the upslope weathering and erosion have created an ancient alluvial fan on which the Cargasacchi vineyard is planted. The soil materials consist of calcareous botella clay inter-bedded with a high percentage of decomposing calcareous shale fragments throughout the soil profile.

The “argilo-calcaire” soils are extraordinarily high in free lime at 8.2 pH and nearly 8,000-ppm calcium, but perfectly suited for Pinot Noir with moderate water holding capacity and excellent drainage.

"This is a fabulous vineyard. The growers go to endless pains,
and the talented winemakers at Loring rose to the occasion..."
Wine Enthusiast on the Loring Wine Company 2006 Cargasacchi Vineyard Pinot Noir

CLONE & ROOTSTOCK SELECTIONS

Cargasacchi Vineyard, in terms of plant material selection, was planted using a counterintuitive approach. Rather than a group of clones, planting was to a single, very highly regarded selection from the Cote de Nuits, the limestone ridge in the northern part of the Cote d’Or.

In Burgundy, this particular clonal selection is looked upon as the “complete” clone because of its ability to produce wines of both intense aromatics and flavor. Rather than attempting to achieve complexity through a blend of multiple clones, the Cargasacchi vineyard was planted with this “complete” clone that produces rich, balanced wines alone.

The unique difference is that this very alluring, single clone of pinot noir was planted onto two dissimilar rootstocks of different parentage, with both rootstocks, tending to express and influence for different but interesting wine characteristics. One rootstock tending to influence for red fruit and brighter, fruitier character, and the other rootstock tending to influence towards a darker, blue-purple fruit and earth character.

ROOTSTOCK: SYNERGY

Synergy is the whole, becoming greater than the sum of its parts. The goal is for the ultimate wine to be an expression of vineyard synergy.

Not generally common knowledge in California, but part of traditional European viticultural lore, is the understanding that as the result of rootstock influence on grapevine growth habit, rootstock choices influence for different wine expression.

Because of phylloxera, intensive rootstock breeding programs began in Europe in the late 1800’s. The rootstock crosses were primarily from 3 native-American Vitis species, resulting in 3 main rootstock families.

Selected for resistance to phylloxera, rooting ability and grafting ability, the numerous rootstocks within each family of crosses, tend to have additional differences and affinities whose expression can be site specific. These differences range but are not limited to rooting depth, vigor, drought tolerance, nutrient uptake, as well as sensitivity to temperature, latitude, day length and season length. The behavior of Rootstock can change depending on the site.

The longer we observe rootstocks, the better we understand the unique relationships that vary their performance in the vineyard environment. These very complex relationships include the different influences described, and sometimes can even vary between different grafted clones of the same wine grape variety.

The rootstocks planted at Cargasacchi are 420A and 3309C.

420A is a shallow rooting, limestone tolerant rootstock that is a cross of Vitis Berlandieri and V. Riparia. It is believed that this rootstock family and especially this specific rootstock can and tend to, express brighter and more red-fruited character in Pinot Noir.

This is influenced by shallow rooting and earlier ripening. As the result of shallower roots, 420A tends to begin the growing season relatively early, since the upper soil horizons tend to warm up earlier in springtime, thereby inducing bud-break.

In addition, this rootstock tends to have smaller and more numerous roots. There is a greater ratio of root surface in relation to total root mass, which allows 420A to uptake soil water and nutrients more quickly. Thus, in a state of water deficit sooner in the growing season, it begins its ripening trajectory in the early summer rather than later.

3309C, a member of the V. Riparia and V. Rupestris crosses family, tends to produce a deeper and well-branched root system, but is not very tolerant of limestone. Rather than a problem, the limestone intolerance becomes a useful throttle and one of the tools used to manage the vine, as the free lime causes 3309C to express lower vigor and limits the ability to uptake various cations/nutrients in the soil profile. The effect of pH and limestone on this rootstock allows us to walk the razor’s edge, (retrospectively, in the first few vintages perhaps a little too closely.)

In spring, the deeper roots tend to take longer to warm up and induce bud-break. All things being equal in terms of soil depth, soil mass and nutrient status, 3309C is perceptibly several days behind the 420A at bud-break.

As the result of exploring deeper soil horizons and a larger volume of soil, it tends to ripen somewhat slower as well, because of greater water availability. The 3309C is planted on soil that is only 2.5 to 3 feet deep, overlaying a fractured layer of marl and limestone shale. Despite limestone intolerance, the 3309C appears to be better able to extract water in August and September, that is less available to the more limestone tolerant but shallower rooted 420A.

In addition to potentially being influenced by later ripening, the expression of higher tannin and darker fruit character appears to partially derive in part from the more open and limited canopies that develop with this rootstock. In the Cargasacchi vineyard, the 3309C vine’s internode distance, (distance between where leaves attach to the cane,) is slightly longer than on the 420A. This results in more sunlight striking the fruit and appears to result in more tannin as a result, though this is in addition to canopy management and leaf pulling directed for the same purpose.

PINOT NOIR CLONE, DIJON 115

The clone, what is generally referred to in California and Oregon as Dijon 115, was originally selected from a vineyard in Morey St Denis, between Gevrey-Chambertin and Vougeot.

The tiny region of Cote de Nuits, France is home to the greatest names of red Burgundy. Because of the similar calcareous clay soils, it was the commonsense source to look towards for scion material. (Scion wood is the fruitful, propagative plant material grafted on top of the rootstock, the clonal selection itself.)

As described above this selection is considered a complete clone, because alone, it produces balanced, rich, dark wines. The following excerpted information is derived from the ENTAV International Catalogue for Pinot Noir Clone 115:

Organoleptic characteristics of the wine: strong colour with a purplish hue, superior bouquet, elegant rich aroma typical of its type, a hint of small fruits, well structured, tannic, long, suitable for keeping. Locations: it is particularly good in Pinot locations (chalky soil - gravel or stones, well drained with good exposure).

The particular plant material used at Cargasacchi Vineyard was the result of relationships between Oregon State University (OSU) working with the Office National Interprofessionnel des Vins (ONIVINS) in Dijon, France and the Station de Reserches Viticoles et Oenologiques, (INRA) in Colmar, France. OSU imported 13 French Pinot Noir clones between 1987 and 1992 that were “public” as distinguished from the trademarked counterparts authorized by Etablissement National Technique pour l’Amélioration de la Viticulture, (ENTAV.) Six of these clones, including this French 115, came to Foundation Plant Material Services at UC Davis (FPS) and after quarantine were registered and made available for California viticulture. The corresponding FPS number for the 115 selection in California is FPS 89.

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