Good Old Vines
Imagine a Zen master, sitting among calcareous rocks strewn among countless oak trees. Her gnarled arms are twisted and outstretched, embracing the warm sun and withstanding cold nights, resolute in the wisdom of ripening the fruit under her care. There is no formal qualification for “old vine,” but the original plantings on the JUSTIN estate date to 1981.
There are only a few blocks which have not been redeveloped—as we learn from the various soil types and microclimates, we apply this knowledge to better customize row orientations, grape varieties, clones, or rootstocks. But three heritage blocks still remain, as they continue to make the cut for our luxury blends of JUSTIFICATION or ISOSCELES. As a vine grows older, the crop yield decreases. Though quality may increase, the plant eventually reaches a point of diminishing returns. The tons harvested do not warrant the farming cost and it is more economical to replant.
Blocks 10 (cabernet franc) and 11 (merlot) are consistent in their ripening characteristics and fruit flavor profile. When tasted blind after harvest alongside other barrel lots, they perform better than other, newer plantings. A grapevine can survive for over 100 years, but attention and care are necessary. In 2013, we decided to alter farming practices to revitalize these older vines by cutting off the cordons and laying fresh, new canes. This led to better, more uniform clusters, and by investing in these storied vines, we can both sustain and enhance the estate and our wines.