Max Hauser wrote:the University, with some reservations, continued to recommend AxR right up until 1988. It appears clear that over the next ten years or so, the majority of vineyards in Napa and Sonoma will have to be replanted. . . . [Ridge's own plantings remained on a traditional, phylloxera-resistant, Saint George rootstock.] We were not on the "cutting edge" as defined by the University. We deliberately looked to the techniques of pre-Prohibition California, techniques virtually identical to those used for centuries to make the finest European wines. We were not impressed with the simple, clean, fruity wines produced by "modern techniques." Why, we reasoned, would the academics know anything more about fine-grape-growing than they did about fine winemaking? --Paul Draper, "Ridge Report," January 1993.
UC Davis will probably never live down their recommendation throughout most of the 1900s of AxR as a vine rootstock.
European vine growers must have been rolling on the floor laughing themselves to death when the great AxR failure of the 1990s in California took place. They'd seen it all before in the late 1800s, when a mutant strain of Phylloxera turned out to be poisonous to AxR rootstock.
So I find myself asking, whatever possessed UC Davis to recommend this rootstock for extensive planting, let alone ANY planting, in California? When France had already banned it because it was known to be susceptible to certain strains of Phylloxera? Yes--the mutant strain of Phylloxera that was lethal to AxR wasn't present in the new world. So the same (or a sufficiently similar) mutation couldn't ever happen again? Well, DUH!!! Guess what? It did. And the misguided recommendations of AxR cost the California fine wine industry multi-millions of dollars in losses.
Thank you, UC Davis. This is arguably THE biggest and most expensive gaffe in the history of academic wine research and its attempt to influence winegrowing practice.
This is an egg that will take you decades to wipe off your faces.
As it will take some of the vineyards who took your advice to recover from.