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Carhartt Family Wines

Cloning: From Cutting to Vine

Cloning and Planting at Carhartt Family Wines

At Carhartt Family Wines, our dedication to quality and hands-on approach extends from our winemaking process to the very vines themselves. As we welcome our new Merlot plantings to the Mesa Vineyard at Rancho Santa Ynez, we invite you to explore the fascinating world of vine cloning—a practice rooted in tradition and essential for maintaining the exceptional quality of our wines.

Our motto “Ground-To-Glass” embodies our unwavering commitment to overseeing every aspect of the winemaking journey, starting right from the vineyard. This dedication ensures that each vine, each grape, and ultimately each bottle of wine upholds the highest standards of excellence that define Carhartt Family Wines.

The Science of Cloning

Cloning in viticulture is a time-honored technique that involves taking cuttings from an existing grapevine to produce new vines with identical genetic material. This method allows us to replicate the desired traits of a parent vine, ensuring consistent grape quality and characteristics across our vineyard.

But why do we choose to clone rather than plant new grape varieties? The answer lies in the selection process. When winemakers identify a vine with superior attributes—such as outstanding flavor profiles, resilience to disease, or suitability to our terroir—they take cuttings from that vine to create clones. This not only preserves the unique qualities of the grapes but also enhances the overall health and productivity of our vineyard.

Selection and Timing of Cuttings

The process begins with the careful selection of mother vines, chosen based on their performance and the specific traits we wish to replicate. Ideal cuttings are taken during the dormant season, typically in late winter, when the vines are not actively growing. This timing is crucial as it ensures the cuttings have ample time to establish roots before the growing season begins.

A skilled vineyard team then harvests the cuttings, each about 12-18 inches in length, from the chosen mother vines. These cuttings are then prepared for planting, ensuring that each one has the potential to develop into a robust and productive vine.

The 3 Palms Clone and 1103P Rootstock

For our new Merlot plantings, we selected the 3 Palms Clone, originally from the renowned 3 Palms Vineyard in Napa. This New World clone, planted by Duckhorn in the 1970s, is known for its even ripening and earlier harvest time, which is particularly beneficial for Merlot—a varietal that typically ripens later. Our Winemaker, Chase Carhartt, brings his expertise with this clone to our vineyard, ensuring its successful integration and optimal performance.

The nursery grafted the 3 Palms Clone onto the 1103P rootstock, a thicker and stronger rootstock recognized for its disease resistance and robustness. This combination is designed to thrive in our vineyard conditions, providing a strong foundation for the vines and ensuring healthy, productive growth.

Planting at Mesa Vineyard

Once the new Merlot clones are ready, they are planted on our Mesa Vineyard at Rancho Santa Ynez. This location, with its unique microclimate and soil composition, provides the perfect environment for our new vines to thrive. We are planting one acre in total, with a spacing of 10 feet by 3 feet, utilizing the VSP (Vertical Shoot Positioning) trellis system. This system optimizes sunlight exposure and air circulation, promoting healthy vine growth and grape development.

As these young vines grow, they are closely monitored and nurtured by our dedicated vineyard team. From soil management to pest control, every aspect of their development is overseen to ensure they produce the high-quality grapes that Carhartt Family Wines is known for.

The Promise of New Vines

Our process of cloning and planting high-quality Merlot clones at the Mesa Vineyard is a testament to our dedication to direct, hands-on in winemaking and farming. By preserving and enhancing the traits of the best vines at our disposal, we ensure that each bottle of Carhartt Family Wines continues to deliver the exceptional quality and flavor profile that our supporters have come to expect.

From the careful selection of cuttings to the planting and nurturing of new vines, our hands-on approach at every stage underscores our “Ground-To-Glass” philosophy. As these new Merlot vines take root and grow, we look forward to sharing the fruits of our labor with you, crafted with care by our family for yours.

Stay tuned for more updates on our vineyard adventures and the journey of these new Merlot plantings at Carhartt Family Wines!


Explore club options HERE for first access to our limited production Merlot.