June 19, 2023 Posted in Vineyard, Wines

Grafting Vines at Pfeiffer Vineyard

King Estate’s Pfeiffer Vineyard got a makeover recently with the grafting over of about 2.3 acres of Pinot Gris (1.7 acres) and Merlot (0.6 acres) to Sauvignon Blanc. This will give us a new source of Sauvignon Blanc grapes which are in growing demand in Oregon. While precise statistics are hard to come by, estimates are that Oregon has fewer than 150 acres of Sauvignon Blanc statewide. King Estate is the first Oregon winery to nationally distribute an Oregon-grown Sauvignon Blanc; it’s been gratifying to see how well received the wine has been and the future is even brighter.

Applying tar to seal the graft on new Sauvignon Blanc vines in April 2023. Photo by Andy Nelson

A Productive Partnership

King Estate had partnered with Pfeiffer for some 30 years, purchasing virtually all the grapes Pfeiffer didn’t need for its own bottlings. We’ve long thought the site was well suited to growing Sauvignon Blanc. After purchasing the vineyard in November 2022, we were able to repurpose some existing vines to increase our supply of Sauvignon Blanc grapes.

One Vine at a Time

The grafting process is a team effort. One worker cuts back the old vines. Another worker comes through to graft the new vine pieces onto the old vine. Tape is used to support the graft. The final step is to apply tar to seal the cut and keep it from drying out while the graft is developing. The seal will be reapplied periodically in the first month.

Securing the new grafts to the trunk at Pfeiffer Vineyard, April 2023. Photo by Andy Nelson

If we had removed the old vines and replanted, fruit wouldn’t be available until 2027. Now, the first fruit from these vines will likely be harvested in 2024.

Two months after grafting, the new Sauvignon Blanc grapes are growing at Pfeiffer Vineyard. Photo by Ray Nuclo