Colossal Cabernet trial under the California sun

A massive trial at Beckstoffer Vineyards’ Amber Knolls ranch in Lake County, California, will test and compare 100 Cabernet clone/rootstock combinations for resilience to climate change, as well as fruit and wine quality. Collaborators from industry and academia hope the data will prepare Cabernet vineyards for the future, not only in California but across the country and around the world. (Courtesy of Lake County Winegrape Commission/ Karen Pavone Photography)

A huge Cabernet trial is underway in California, encompassing 100 clone/rootstock combinations and covering 3.5 acres. Researchers designed it to help identify genetic variations that impart a greater resilience to climate change — notably, improved drought tolerance that will enable more effective and sustainable water-use practices while also producing high-quality fruit and wine. 

“I’ve heard it called the ‘mother of all Cabernet trials’ and it has earned the title for a reason,” said Clint Nelson, director of vineyard operations at Beckstoffer Vineyards — Red Hills, which hosts the University of California, Davis-led trial at its Amber Knolls ranch in Lake County. “I believe this is the largest and most replicated project of its kind. To put it in perspective, a typical research project will have anywhere from 200 to 300 data vines for collection. This project will have 3,600 data vines and data points.”

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