VINEYARDS FEATURES & BENEFITS
OLD WORLD MEETS NEW WORLD VINEYARD PRACTICES
Nestled between the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, Lodi has an ideal Mediterranean climate with deep, rich, sandy-loam soils and abundant quality water. Lance Randolph, fourth generation Peirano, winemaker, and grower uses the best of Giacomo Peirano’s, Lance’s great grandfather, farming methods and implements new techniques to create the best of “Old World Meets New World” viticulture practices.
Head Pruning System
In the early 1900s, Giacomo recognized the advantageous similarities of Lodi’s climate with that of the coast of Italy where he and his family farmed Zinfandel vineyards for many years. He brought cuttings to Lodi from this vineyard where he propagated and planted them to create a new, natural rooted vine for what is now one of the largest blocks of old, head-trained, natural rooted Zinfandel fields left in the United States. During this era, the head pruning system was the
most ideal viticulture method. It utilizes a topping technique to determine the eventual height (three feet) and forces arms (spurs) to form from the trunk of the vine. Over time, these arms grow shoots from which clusters form and fruit is produced. The head pruned system provides for open centers, helping the clusters receive sunlight from all directions. Traditionally, the vines were kept at the height of three feet to accommodate the stature of human beings at the time (Giacomo himself being only five feet tall) who were much shorter than men today. Out of the tremendous respect he has for his great grandfather’s farming practices along with Lance’s own knowledge that the system produces quality grapes for exceptional wine, Lance continues to practice the old head pruning method today. Peirano Estate is one of only a few vineyards to still implement this system which is believed to date back to before the time of Christ.
In the early 1950s, the Peirano family continued planting and developing vineyards with the head pruned system used by Giacomo in the 1900’s, but raised the topping height to six feet, accommodating the taller Peirano’s of that era.
Two-Wire Catch System
In the later 1960s, an evolutionary harvesting machine was developed to reduce the cost accrued by the expensive alternative of hand harvesting, which was used up to this point. To accommodate this machine, a bilateral cordon system was developed and implemented. It used cordon wires to connect the vines in a row, allowing the arms to spread up and over the wire. As the harvesting machine worked through the vineyards slapping the vines, the trunks would jerk and a shock wave would flow thru the wires, separating the grapes from the stems. Though this helped to simplify the harvesting process, the system also created an unwanted California Sprawl. This is when an excessive number of foliage rolls over the fruit and the cordon wires adversely cover the clusters from the sun, resulting in less than quality fruit. In desperate need of improvement, Lance took it upon himself to accept the challenge of finding a solution to the system. Initially, he installed a single catch wire two feet above the cordon wire to help position the shoots, but it only provided for marginal benefits. After several rounds of experimentation, he developed the existing two-wire catch system and installed it two feet above the cordon wire. This improvement allows for Lance to position the rapidly growing shoots between the two catch wires, preventing them from rolling over and covering the fruit that was developing below the cordon wire. The fruit, in turn, is able to receive an ample amount of sunlight so it can, eventually, produce quality wine. This farming system is used on Peirano’s Chardonnay vines, creating exceptional conditions to please any winemaker.
Geneva Double Curtain System
In the 1990s, Lance was one of the first to implement the Geneva Double Curtain system. This system, rather than using one cordon wire connecting the vines through the center, as done with bilateral cordon system of the 1960s, splits the vine into two and uses two cordon wires spaced three feet apart. With this system, Lance was able to accomplish what his great grandfather had done with the head pruning system, that being to keep the centers of the vine free of foliage, thus, further maximizing the filtered sunlight exposure to the grape clusters of select varietals. Today, this system is recognized as an ideal option for red grape varietals. For Peirano, this method is highly advantageous for the estate Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grapes.
By the 2000s, Peirano Estate Vineyards had established a good reputation for producing quality Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel, and Chardonnay grapes on the various systems mentioned above. Always looking for ways to challenge himself, Lance went on a quest to develop the ultimate effective viticulture system. After spending countless hours researching the various options, Lance realized that what he was searching for had actually been created hundreds of years ago and implemented by his great grandfather in the early 1900s with his Zinfandel vines, taking him back to the old head pruning system. After having experimented with the harvesting machine, he realized that hand picking like his great grandfather did, while time consuming and more costly, resulted in the best quality grapes. In turn, he developed his new varietals Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc, Barbera, Muscat Canelli, Petite Sirah, Syrah, Malbec and Tempranillo in the same manner his great grandfather had done, thus connecting the link between four generations of farming, bringing everything back full circle.
Today, four generations later, Lance Randolph is a man on a mission. His mission is to not only produce the best wine to ever come out of the region but to also create worldwide recognition for the brand and the Lodi Appellation. Like his great grandfather, he knows that the first step towards accomplishing this mission begins in the vineyard. At Peirano Estate Vineyards, the best “Old World” viticulture practices will always be utilized with the greatest “New World” techniques to ensure the best quality wine to ever come out of the Lodi Appellation.