Planting the new vineyard that will serve as an outdoor classroom for generations of viticulture students, the University of California at Davis inadvertently altered a well-worn saying: When in Davis, do as the Romans do.
Dr. James Wolpert, U.C. Davis cooperative extension viticulturist, recently likened the climate of the newly planted vineyard at the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science to those of southern Italy and Portugal.
With the similarity in mind, faculty has selected grape varieties that thrive in those regions to make up a large portion of the new vineyard.
According to Wines & Vines, vineyard crew members began planting rootstock in the new U.C. Davis vineyard about a month ago, permanently altering the landscape at the south entrance to the university, which is widely known for its winegrowing and winemaking programs.
The majority of the rootstock is 420A, which should give the program more control over the overly vigorous soil. (Previously, the vineyard site served as an alfalfa field.)
The 13.5-acre vineyard is divided into six blocks: production (yields from this block will be used for winemaking classes), demonstration (where viticulture students will learn trellising and vine-training systems), the heritage block (home to more than 200 varieties of dry-farmed, sustainable vines), two library blocks (sample varieties from around the world), and the student rotation block.