Their hope was that, by creating a registry of the state's old vineyards, currently with more than 200 listed, they would draw attention to a living connection to the past. "To keep a 100-year-old vineyard in the ground, you have to respect the earth a little bit more than you would if you want a vineyard to last 15 years." What qualifies as historic?
It is no surprise that the society's members deal primarily in old vineyards.
Passalacqua taps a wide array of historic sites, at least 19 on the society registry plus a 1915 Lodi planting he acquired this year.
That 1960 date is important; it represents a time before the meteoric rise of Cabernet and Chardonnay, the reigning king and queen of California grapes.
Winemakers revere these vineyards for complex flavors and balanced fruit.
But there's also a block of the Lopez Ranch in arid Rancho Cucamonga (San Bernardino County), 80 acres of dry-farmed Zinfandel from 1918, one of the nation's largest plantings in the pre-Prohibition days.