|Original layout of the property|
Most people would have thought him crazy at the time. I'm sure the folks in California thought he was nuts. (I still run into people from the left coast who think we can't get grapes ripe here in Pennsylvania.) In 1973, though, even the locals must have questioned him. It's the same year that the Hargraves planted the first vinifera vines on Long Island. Dr. Frank in the Finger Lakes had planted some European vines a decade earlier, but word had reached very far yet. Everyone thought these tender varieties couldn't weather the winters here.
The following year, Bill planted another couple acres of Chardonnay, and then--perhaps to hedge his bets--he put in about 8 acres of Seyval Blanc (which at the time made some of the nicest hybrid grapes around.) Keep in mind, this was all happening in Brogue......yes, Brogue in the early 1970s......
In 1978, the vineyard was sold to John and Tim. Because Bill had been going through a divorce, the vineyard had fallen into some disrepair. It took the brothers all of the following year (1979) to get the vineyard back into shape. Their first commercial vintage was 1980.
|John in the Cabernet vineyard (note his tool of choice!)|
In the early 1980s, the brothers planted some Merlot and some Chambourcin, as well as a rootstock vineyard and an experimental plot. Unfortunately (except maybe in the case of Chambourcin), all of these froze out in the winter of 1994. At one time, this place had close to 15 acres planted to vines.
When Kris and I purchased the property from John in 2001, I set about re-structuring the vineyard. In late March of 2003, I made the tough decision to pull out many acres, leaving us with just 5. A lot of the Chardonnay was infected with leaf-roll virus, and the Seyval Blanc (planted on its own roots) was too weak to be economically viable.
|Planting with my brother Dave|
In case you haven't noticed, this all started forty years ago. Not much in terms of European vineyard history, but for us on the East coast--and myself in particular--this is a long time. So, this is the fortieth anniversary of the vineyard here at Allegro. And on a related note, the 100th blog entry that I've done. We'll try to pull together a nice celebration sometime in April...hope you'll join us.