Concannon Cabernet Sauvignon


The birth of the Concannon Cab Clones 7, 8 and 11.

Concannon Vineyard 130th Anniversary of Concannon Cabernet Sauvignon, 1883-2013

2013 Commemorates our Historic Livermore Valley Winery’s 130 Years of Growing and Producing California Cabernet Sauvignon

In preparation for this milestone, we have gone back to its inception to track down and document key periods in its history that have had a profound impact on the growth and success of Cabernet Sauvignon in California.

The winery has been synonymous with the Cabernet Sauvignon expansion in California since before the turn-of-the-century. The wine industry in California was very young when the winery was founded in 1883 and winemakers were exploring which varietals were best suited for the region. Concannon founder, James Concannon, took it upon himself to learn more about winemaking and vineyard management from some of the most prestigious wineries in Bordeaux, and sought out Cabernet Sauvignon cuttings for planting back in California. Utilizing these cuttings, James first planted Cabernet Sauvignon imported directly from Bordeaux in 1883, bottling his first Bordeaux-style wine made primarily from Cabernet Sauvignon in 1886.

During this time, James also worked closely with UC Berkeley’s recently established Department of Viticulture and Enology to help improve California wine by teaching better winemaking techniques, viticulture practices and improve selections of varietal plantings in California vineyards. Sadly, in the early 1890s phylloxera decimated California vineyards, but it did not stop James from pressing forward; he traveled again to Bordeaux to find the finest, healthiest and most phylloxera-resistant selection of Bordeaux varietals for planting in California. Those vines are still producing fruit at the winery today in Livermore Valley.

It was second-generation vintner Captain Joe who kept Concannon operating through Prohibition as the winery was permitted to produce sacramental wine. While many other California wineries had to close their doors during Prohibition, Captain Joe was able to maintain the Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards and improve winemaking techniques. In the early 1930s Captain Joe bottled Concannon’s first varietally-labeled Cabernet Sauvignon.

Marking its second major outbreak, California was struck again by phylloxera devastating the industry and prompting UC Davis to become increasingly interested in clonal study in the 1960s.

Under the leadership of third-generation vintner Jim Concannon, the University of California at Davis and its world-class Department of Enology and Viticulture, Concannon engaged in a highly-successful collaborative endeavor to find a strong, resistant clone of Cabernet Sauvignon for planting. Using rootstock from the original Cabernet Sauvignon vines that James Concannon had selected and imported directly from Bordeaux, Jim prepared a block of vines for analysis by UC Davis researchers Dr. Olmo and Mr. Alley.  Thus began what is considered Concannon’s most significant contribution to the California wine industry. The rootstock underwent heat treatment at UC Davis and the final result was the registration of Concannon Cabernet Sauvignon clones 7, 8 and 11. The clones were soon widely distributed and became the backbone of California Cabernet Sauvignon plantings. Today, the Concannon Cabernet Sauvignon clones 7, 8 and 11 are the most widely planted in California. The Concannon clones played a key role not only in the enormous expansion of Cabernet Sauvignon plantings between the 1970s and 1980s, but are credited for the widespread healthy expansion we continue to see today. Photo Credit: Danny Anderson

In 2009, the winery bottled the “Mother Vine” Cabernet Sauvignon with grapes from the 2007 vintage. The wine honors founder James Concannon’s contributions in bringing in the original Cabernet Sauvignon plantings to Livermore, Captain Joe for keeping the vineyards and winery operating during Prohibition, and Jim’s work and collaboration with UC Davis in the development of the now famous Concannon clones which have served as a backbone of California Cabernet Sauvignon. Today, under the leadership of fourth-generation vintner, John Concannon, Concannon Vineyard is still proudly producing Cabernet Sauvignon in each of its five wine production tiers: Heritage, Reserve, Conservancy, Selected Vineyards, and Glen Ellen Reserve and continues its heritage of innovation and exploration.

Read full Press Release here.

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Concannon Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignons

A pioneer in the California wine industry, Concannon has a history of firsts. Among these contributions was the introduction of the Concannon Cabernet clones 7, 8 and 11 in 1960s to the winegrowing community, particularly in Napa Valley. Today these clones can be found in the most esteemed Cabernets in the state, and Concannon continues to offer our own exceptional Cabernet sourced from our very best estate vineyard blocks.
“Mother Vine” Cabernet Sauvignon ~ Reserve: The “Mother Vine” Cabernet Sauvignon, named to honor the “mother vine” that gave birth to a legacy, which comes from the very first planting of our legendary clone on the Concannon Estate. Fully structured and age worthy, “Mother Vine” Cabernet Sauvignon, Reserve is a luscious, full-bodied wine. The “Mother Vine” Cab has fruit-forward aromas of dark cherry and a hint of cocoa. There are bursting flavors of blackberry and currant on the palate with espresso notes that lead into a smooth lingering finish. Learn more and taste this wine with John Concannon.
Cabernet Sauvignon ~ Heritage: The Heritage Cabernet Sauvignon is “the best of our best”. Enticing aromas of blackberry, tobacco, and chocolate are followed with a dark cherry intensity. In its mouth-filling flavors, this wine is beautifully balanced and complex with a lingering, dry finish. Mature fruit produces fully structured and age worthy wine that will develop over many years to come. Learn more and taste this wine with John Concannon.
130th Anniversary Cabernet Sauvignon ~ Reserve, only 94 cases produced: A balanced, lusicious and elegant Cab with fruit-forward aromas of dark cherry with a hints of cocoa. On the palate, sophisticated and classic Cabernet flavors of blackberry and currant combined with espresso notes that lead to a smooth, lingering finish. Age worthy for at least 8-10 years. Learn more and taste this wine with John Concannon.
Cabernet Sauvignon ~ Reserve: A plush, full-bodied Cab. Bold fruit flavors of red cherry, raspberry and plum are layered with cocoa aromas and subtle toasted coffee notes. Learn more and taste this wine with John Concannon.
Cabernet Sauvignon ~ Conservancy: The Conservancy Cab comes from California vineyard land that is in a legal trust that protects vineyards from urban development. is a full-bodied wine, rich with black cherry and vanilla oak flavors. The enticing palate reveals soft round tannins with subtle spice and just a hint of chocolate that mingle into a smooth finish. Learn more and taste this wine with John Concannon.
Cabernet Sauvignon ~ Selected Vineyards: The Selected Vineyards Cab has a rich nose of dark berry fruit flavors with hints of green olive and vanilla oak. Lively tannins contribute to an ample structure and evolve into a lingering finish. Learn more and taste this wine with John Concannon.
Cabernet Sauvignon ~ Glen Ellen Reserve: The Glen Ellen Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon is a medium-bodied wine with juicy flavors of berry and black cherry with soft tannins for a rich finish. Learn more and taste this wine with John Concannon.

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