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Preserving Napa’s heritage vineyards – Gagnon-Kennedy

Preserving Napa’s heritage vineyards – Gagnon-Kennedy

Gagnon and Kennedy walking the vineyards.

When Napa was established as one of the original 27 counties of California in 1849, the first vineyards weren’t far behind. Samuel Brannan, the self-titled vineyard plot was planted by the founder of Calistoga in 1862. Old Federal Block was planted initially by To Kalon founder H.W. Crabb in 1881. These were among the first 60ha of planted wine grapes in the region — and still exist today, among the current 18,200ha planted.

Though the original vines have been replanted, the legacy of these plots prevails as the pinnacle for harvesting fruit for world-class wine. Considered heritage vineyards, they are the backbone of many of Napa Valley’s cult wines, yet are often overlooked for the more prominent name on the label – a modern name that consumers recognise. Gagnon-Kennedy, a relatively new brand in the Valley, is taking a different approach: working to honour the heritage of these 19th-century vineyards.

‘If great wine isn’t being made from vineyards, they get ripped up or sold,’ says Michael Kennedy, proprietor of Gagnon-Kennedy. This is when the land loses its heritage – which is why Kennedy and his partner, winemaker Marc Gagnon, established their label to…

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