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March 3, 2014

Dear Ms Finfrock,

I write on behalf of the effort to save the Lucchesi (Emerson) Vineyard. I was a faculty member and viticulture specialist at the Department of Viticulture and Enology at UC Davis for almost 30 years. I appreciate the value of old vineyards, as I was one of the originators of the Zinfandel Heritage Vineyard Project, a joint collaboration between UC and the Zinfandel Advocates and Producers (ZAP). We became involved in that project due to the risk of losing the old vine Zinfandel vineyards throughout California. Identification and increased awareness of these old vineyards was ZAP's main goal, while ours was the effort to understand whether they represented unique genetic material, that is, in terms of their wine quality. Our research showed that there were, in fact, unique characteristics that were worth saving.

Unfortunately, not all vineyards could be saved and some cases we arrived just days before the bulldozer. In fact, two of the three vineyards in our research from Southern California (Cucumonga area) were subsequently lost to development. As Don Galleano, owner of Galleano Vineyards, said well, "If these vineyards were buildings the state would slap a National Historical Landmark plaque on it and you wouldn't be able to touch it, but a vineyard of the same age has no value in their eyes."

I would argue that these old vineyards DO have value, as a link to our past as few other rural features do, with the possible exception of covered bridges. Would CalTrans remove a covered bridge like the one at the link below? I don't think they would.
Click here.
I urge you to carve out a 1% exception to your Delta restoration plan and retain the Lucchesi Vineyard for as long as it can live. It is as vital to the history of California as the missions and with just as fascinating a story to tell.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment.

Best regards,


Jim Wolpert
Viticulture Extension Specialist Emeritus
University of California

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