Grafting (without the corruption)

From John, February 27th, 2019
John bench grafting

John bench grafting

a field grafted Pinot noir vine

a field grafted Pinot noir vine

Here in winter of 2019, clearly there is a whiff of graft in the air!  Though what they define as “graft” in our political arena is quite a different concept from what “graft” means at Cameron Winery.  In late February or early March, you can usually find us engaged in our form of graft.

Why graft grape vines?

Most of the world’s wine is made from Vitis vinifera, a species of grape native to Europe and Asia.  While it is certainly possible to grow Vitis Vinifera on its own roots, most viticultural regions now have infections of Phylloxera (a pesky little American root louse that literally devours the roots of our beloved vinifera vines).  In response to this microarthropod, our friends in France long ago figured out a way to deal with it.

If one grafts a shoot of Vitis vinifera (a “scion) onto rootstock derived from native North American vines (which are resistant to the little louse), “Et voilà, le travail!”, a viable vine results that can grow in the presence of Phylloxera.  Of course that’s just the theory.  The reality involves a number of different approaches to the subject. 

How do we do it?

In Oregon, we commonly “bench graft” winter cuttings from dormant scion and rootstock in order to propogate new vines.  It is a bit of an art to line up complimentary scion and rootstock “sticks”, make a cut in one and complimentary cut in the other (think of a positive and a negative) and put them together.   After joining the parts, we lay the successive grafted vines in a box of moist perlite and keep them warmed at 70F for approximately 3 weeks.  At the end of that time, a healthy callus has knitted the two halves together and we immerse the rootstock in rooting hormone, then in potting soil. The whole “plant” is put in the greenhouse to await budbreak of the scion and growth of roots below from the rootstock.  If the resulting vine is healthy, we nurture it throughout the summer and plant it in vineyard the fall.

The second method of grafting is called “chip budding” or “T-budding” and is done on mature vines that already have a healthy root structure.  In this case, the growth at the head of a mature vine is cut off and a scion bud is inserted into a cleft or “T” cut into the remaining trunk.  The little bud is carefully wrapped by tape wound round and round the trunk until it is secure.  In a few weeks the bud will have formed a callus with the rootstock and will begin to grow.  This is an excellent method for changing the type of vine that one has in the vineyard.  For example, at Cameron many years ago we made the mistake of planting Dijon clones.  And now, 20 years later, with healthy root structure resistant to Phylloxera, we are slowly grafting over these vines to old Burgundy clones of both Pinot noir and Chardonnay. We lose one year of productivity but then are back in production with superior grapes!

Share This

Recent News & Rants

Silent Fall

One of our fall rituals has traditionally been battling songbirds, who arrive in the vineyard en masse in October to feast on our newly ripened grapes. But climate change and catastrophes in our environment have started to take their toll on our feathered friends.  This year there was no need for bird deterrents, large migrations of robins and cedar waxwings over our vineyard seem to have disappeared.

There’s More... >
Introducing Cidre 2020

We thought 2020 would be an excellent year to embark on a new fermentation endeavor: making traditional cider from Alan Foster’s legendary White Oak cider orchard. The result is a dry cider with a round fruity body that dances on your tongue with apple tannins and a liesy finish and a nose filled with aromas of apple blossom and roses! 

There’s More... >
White Oak Orchard and Vineyard

Alan Foster, owner of White Oak Orchard in the Ribbon Ridge AVA, planted one of the finest cider apple and pear orchards in Western America in 1989. More recently he added 2 acres of Pinot noir and about 1 acre of the noble Nebbiolo grape variety which we use in our Ribbon Ridge Pinot noir and Nebbiolo blend.  Read on to hear about our newest project using Alan’s fruit.

There’s More... >

... for anything your heart desires: a wine, a retailer, a rant, a newsletter, true love (if you’re not too picky). It’s all one convenient, global search away:

(or close this incredibly helpful search tool).