Our vision is simple: 100+ cases of wine made from one vintage, one varietal, one vineyard, all from just one vine. That’s right, over 1200 bottles of wine created from just one multi-headed, enormous Mama Vine!
We began with a special Syrah vine cutting “own-rooted” directly into the soil back in January, 2013. Once the first mother cutting grew shoots, we layered that growth underground, pointing back up into the air. The portion of each shoot underground grew roots. The tip pointing to the sky grew leaves and eventually grapes. In effect, we created new vine heads, daughters, still connected to Mama through the underground shoots. We layered that new growth again underground to create yet another generation, 9 Grand Daughters, and so on. With each new generation, this single vine continued to grow outwards in every direction. With each upward shoot tied to vertical post lined 2.5 feet away from one another across 3 foot rows; the mother vine became a circular, somewhat orderly, bramble.
1st Generation: 1 vine 2013 Mama
2nd Generation: 3 vines 2014 Daughters
3rd Generation: 9 vines 2015 Grand Daughters
4th Generation: 18 vines 2016 G-Grand Daughters
5th Generation: 36 vines 2017 GG-Grand Daughters
6th Generation: 73 vines 2018 GGG-Grand Daughters
7th Generation: 173 vines 2019 GGGG-Grand Daughters
Total: 313 vines
Now that the bramble has grown outward for multiple generations, each year’s shoots no longer grow long enough to stretch from the original generations at the bramble’s center all the way to the perimeter. We can only layer the outer, newer generations going forward. Vineyard Manager Ruben Solorzano estimates he can continue to layer 156 more vine heads each year. As of this year, we’ve also reached the edge of the 2,000 post plot we laid out for Mama. The 7th Generation now spans the entire width of the rectangular block and we will continue to train the new heads up and down the hill lengthwise.
With 313 vines growing, leaving 1687 empty posts to fill at 156 per year – the entire block should be complete in 2030. At 17 years, this will certainly be one of the lengthiest experiments in the New World.
We harvested grapes from the independent vines surrounding Mama on the plot’s border for the first time in 2017. These vines are planted to the same special Syrah strain as Mama. We call this wine August James Syrah after our son, August James Stolpman, who, like his vineyard, was born in 2017. Only 395 pounds of grapes were harvested in his birth year. All of the wine went into large 3 liter bottles for baby Auggie to enjoy his birth-year vintage for the rest of his life.
In 2018 we have enough wine in barrel to release it exclusively to our wine club. Both vintages might be the best Syrahs we’ve ever made, and we attribute the quality mainly to this particular Syrah strain.
We hope the wine from the Mama vine will be even more exceptional then the surrounding independently planted vines. Her root system will span over 1/3 of an acre, underneath all 17 generations. Mama will be insanely strong and shrug off heat spikes or other climatic events and hopefully deliver an elevated, more consistently brilliant flavor profile every year.