July 27, 2023 by
Maytte Rivera

A clone is a plant that has been propagated because of its specific traits, including its ability to produce high yields, its resistance to diseases or drought, and other desirable qualities. In a vineyard or a nursery, a grower develops a clone by using cuttings from an existing plant or grafting, creating a genetically identical grapevine. The same grape can have many clones with varying characteristics; for example, it is believed there are around 1,000 clones of Pinot Noir!

One of the most famous clones is the Wente Chardonnay clone.  Around 1912, Ernest Wente brought chardonnay vines from Montpellier, France, and planted them in his experimental vineyard in the family property in Livermore, California. With time, these vines mutated as they were propagated, developing grape bunches with low yields but intense fruit concentration. Ernest enrolled the help of leading viticulturists and nurseries to speed up the spread of his clone, ultimately shaping the style of what we now know as “California Chardonnay”. Nowadays the Wente clone accounts for about 75% of all the chardonnay vineyards in California.

Author: Maytte Rivera

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