Herrick Grapevines Opens Sacramento Facility

Nursery operations relocate to expand production of clean vines

by Ted Rieger
Herrick Grapevines rootstocks grafting
Employees at Herrick Grapevines’ Sacramento facility perform custom grafting of grapevine rootstock and scion material, then seal graft unions with a wax dip prior to assembling bundles of dormant benchgrafts.
Sacramento, Calif.—Herrick Grapevines has opened a new facility in Sacramento in order to expand overall production and address the current high demand for clean grapevine material available under Protocol 2010 standards established by the National Clean Plant Network.

Under Protocol 2010, all vine material sourced from the grapevine repository at Foundation Plant Services (FPS) at the University of California, Davis, is produced using microshoot tip tissue culture techniques and must test negative for all pathogens and viruses on the Protocol 2010 list, including grapevine red blotch-associated virus (GRBaV).

While Herrick will continue to maintain some administrative and greenhouse operations at its original nursery in St. Helena, Calif., the Sacramento facility now houses the company’s grafting, cold storage, customer order processing and shipping operations, in conjunction with new nursery blocks planted north of Sacramento in California’s Tehama County.

Protocol 2010 rootstocks have been available for Herrick customers since 2015, and some Protocol 2010 clonal material became available this year. Bob Herrick, who founded Herrick Grapevines in 1997, observed, “People want Protocol 2010 grapevines, because everyone wants the cleanest material possible.”

Herrick Grapevines is a licensed propagator and seller of ENTAV-INRA French varieties and clones. ENTAV in Bordeaux is the agency that maintains the French national grapevine repository of accredited clones, working in conjunction with INRA, France’s national institute for agronomy research that recommends these clones after years of research and development. Herrick also propagates and sells certified grapevine material and clones from FPS.

New facility for improved operations
Herrick’s new nursery blocks and facilities are being established in locations isolated from commercial vineyards to reduce exposure to grapevine pathogens such as GRBaV and leafroll viruses. The company is looking for additional property in the Sacramento area to move its greenhouse operations by next year. Herrick said the new Sacramento facility “gives us more space, and this facility is much cleaner and more compatible with our goals.”

After upgrading an existing building to improve sanitary conditions, operations officially began in January. The facility includes 11,000 square feet of production space on a three-acre property and employs 25 people during peak production.

The building houses a grafting room with 10 worker stations with grafting machines for custom grafting of dormant rootstocks to scions, a callusing room and cold storage space. The facility is producing vines for planting in the company’s new nursery blocks as well as custom-grafted vines for vineyard clients.

Planting new Protocol 2010 material
Herrick purchased two ranch properties totaling 105 acres near Gerber Calif., in Tehama County, about 130 miles north of Sacramento, and began planting new nursery blocks in 2013. Explaining the benefits of this location, general manager Diego Barison said: “This is virgin ground with good soil never planted to grapes, and isolated to prevent pest and disease problems. Being farther north also provides cooler winter temperatures to give the vines a good dormancy period, and there is access to high-quality water.”

Barison said the company can plant up to 100,000 vines per day in the nursery fields, and he expects to have 95 acres planted by June. These mother blocks and increase blocks will produce ENTAV clones as well as FPS clones and rootstocks planted with Protocol 2010 material. The nursery is adding more Italian, Iberian and Greek clones (now available through FPS) to its inventory. In addition, the nursery will produce hybrid varieties and clones for Herrick’s clients in the eastern United States. Barison said, “It’s important to plant and produce new clones, and there is a growing market for new varieties and clones.”

Priority testing service
The company has developed a new Priority Testing Protocol program to provide an additional level of assurance for plant health with a focus on more comprehensive testing for GRBaV as a premium service to ensure all material in an order has been tested. Herrick uses the services of two commercial testing labs to perform virus analysis.

Clonal wine samples
As a way to introduce customers to different clones and compare them before planting, Herrick can offer samples of wines from individual clones and invite winemakers to educational meetings for tastings.

Herrick explained: “We can describe to people the viticultural characteristics of different clones, but in terms of the actual aroma and flavor of specific clones, this is not as easy to describe and is more subjective. We can provide wine samples of different clones grown on the same rootstock in the same block under all the same conditions.” To date, wines have been made primarily from Cabernet Sauvignon clones to allow winemakers to sample the French ENTAV clones alongside California and FPS Cabernet clones. 

Posted on 04.22.2016 - 07:59:51 PST
Fantastic news about a responsible grape nursery! Bob Herrick has been a source of good information and advice to me since '98, and I look to him for this type of leadership. Responsible grape propagation and good vineyard trials further the interests of every winery and vineyard owner. Well done!

Posted on 04.22.2016 - 08:42:33 PST
No mention of trunk diseases. Are grafted vines certified/guaranteed pathogen species free?