Some vineyards are more than just farmland; they’re cultural treasures because what they produce is unique. When possible they should be preserved just as historic buildings are preserved. So it’s good to hear the Historic Vineyard Society is continuing its work of discovering old vineyards and advocating for tax breaks that would stave of the developers bulldozers.
As Turley’s winemaker Tegan Passalacqua says about Contra Costa county’s Salvador vineyard originally planted in the 1800’s:
“They remind me that what we do is agricul ture,” he says, “instead of agri-business.”
Vineyards as they age become less and less productive and are often planted with varietals that don’t earn top dollar. So there is always an economic incentive to sell off the land. And of course many vineyards are not worth preserving if there isn’t anything unique about the grapes they produce. But there are vineyards that do produce distinctive wines and if they have historic value they have as much value as any other cultural artifact as long as they can still be enjoyed.
So the Historic Vineyard Society is raising public awareness and lobbying Sacramento to recognize historic vineyards as being central to California’s heritage. I imagine in most cases the battle will be lost since the economic math doesn’t work for old vines. But it is noble work nevertheless.