Research—The Highest Calling
Oakville is the only wine growing region in the United States to have a dedicated research vineyard and facility in the heart of the AVA. For over 50 years the University of California, Davis Research Station in Oakville has conducted studies including trials of clones, rootstocks, vine spacing, pruning levels, and irrigation. The original budwood for Martha’s Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon came from the Oakville Station, and many of the modern trellising techniques utilized in Napa Valley were devised there as well. The Station, on some of the most expensive wine real estate in the world, is comprised of two vineyard parcels equaling a total of 40 acres. From 1868 to 1879, pioneer viticulturalist Hiram Crabb, purchased the acreage he would eventually plant with vineyards and christen To Kalon, Greek for “highest beauty.” On a 20-acre section (ultimately known as the Old Federal Vineyard) at the heart of the vineyard, Crabb experimented with rootstock and almost 400 different grape varieties. After Crabb’s death in 1899, much of To Kalon was sold to the Churchill family, who set aside the Old Federal Vineyard for use by first the U.S. Department of Viticulture and then the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In 1947, wanting to secure a research vineyard for the UC Davis Department of Viticulture and Enology, a group of Napa vintners purchased and donated a parcel now called the South Station, located south of Crabb’s original experimental plot. By 1955, closing out its own grape research, the USDA did the same and ceded the Old Federal Vineyard to the University.