A message from the publisher:
As a native Californian, I grew up learning how our state was settled by europeans beginning with the Spanish missions and the land stampede that came with that news of gold being discovered. The migration west brought a rich list of cultures; Hungarian, French, Finnish, Italian, German, Austrian, Swiss and Portuguese who had in common a history of farming and viticulture. Once these people established themselves in either the Sierra Foothills, or the farmlands of the North Coast they developed vineyards of their own using what they knew from the old country. There were no university classes, no soil science or irrigation engineers to guide these pioneers. They planted rows based on the width of the horse teams that pulled the plow, put their tongue to the dirt to test for pH and relied on generations of experience on how to deal with pests and diseases. They established a patchwork of vineyards across the state beganning in the late 1850’s running from the Central Valley to Dry Creek Valley dedicated to growing grapes, initially for personal consumption and ultimately destined for commercal sale.
By the time I started learning about the place I was born, over a hundred years had transpired since the Gold Rush and suburban development was clearly on the minds of the growing baby-boomer generation. Cities like Santa Rosa and Napa began to spill over into tracts that had once supprted an agrarian culture. Ugly old gnarly vines were knocked down to make way for the surveyors plotting out the subdivisions, malls, courthouses and playgrounds - the American dream. Not appreciated at the time was what these vines represented. Unlike plots of wheat, hay, corn or spinich, grape vines take years to develop character specific to where they are planted and once they are gone need to be re-established. Untold numbers of acres of unique viticultural DNA disappeared as sodium lamps replaced smudge pots.
Fast forward to 2010 and a group of young winemakers from Carlisle, Bedrock and Turley help create the Historic Vineyard Society; a non profit organization to develop a registry of old-vine plant material in California. As a writer, I am interested in what goes into a bottle of wine. As a native Californian, I believe there is much work to be done to help preserve this plant DNA and educate consumers about what makes these wines unique.
Doug Wilder, publisher - pdwr