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Campus Hill Vineyard

Las Positas College is on the verge of becoming the Livermore Valley’s pre-eminent viticultural research and teaching facility with the installation of their 3 acre, state of the art, quality wine growing vineyard. The vineyard is currently in development as part of the College’s Viticulture and Winery Technology (VWT) Program and will feature the latest innovations of viticulture technology.

Located at the top of Las Positas College’s new entrance on Campus Hill Drive, Campus Hill Vineyard has been designed to provide a striking new approach to the Las Positas College campus. It will be bordered by primarily ornamental (i.e., fruitless) olive trees and includes a small plant and flower section on the campus side of the vineyard. That portion of the vineyard was designed by, and will be maintained by, the staff and students in the LPC Horticulture program. That said, Campus Hill Vineyard will not just be beautiful; it also will be a working “laboratory” for the VWT program.

Preeminent Research and Teaching Facility

The plan for Campus Hill Vineyard has been carefully crafted to showcase the latest innovations in viticulture design and technology on just over three acres. Many of these leading edge components have been donated by industry leaders to support and encourage the VWT program. These include:

  1. An in-depth soil analysis that was done at the site by industry leader, Coastal Viticulture Consultants (CVC). It ensured the correct selection of rootstocks and the best paring of scions and clones.
  2. Duarte Nursery, perhaps the premier source for vineyard stock, has provided a wide rand for rootstocks, scions and clones.
  3. A “modified V” trellising system complements the climatic conditions in the Livermore Valley. The system has been installed by CVC who helped take the initial vineyard design to the highest level of application.
  4. Three different vineyard blocks offer a broad opportunity to showcase many components of quality wine production: different locations, aspects, and slope:
    1. The cooler, smaller, Eastern Block with less extreme sun exposure will host a modest selection of white varietals including Pinot Gris, Viognier, Albariño and the Livermore Valley’s heritage varietal, Sauvignon Blanc;
    2. The largest and more arid Southern Block will host more drought tolerant varietals including Spanish standouts Garnacha, Tempranillo and Graciano. Also in the mix will be Rhone Valley standards Syrah, Mourvedre and Carignane. Portugal will be represented with Touriga National and Primativo.
    3. On the moderately sloped and richer soil Hilltop Block, Cabernet Sauvignon will make a statement along with its Bordeaux counterpart, Cabernet Franc.
  5. The latest irrigation control technology was donated by Horizon Irrigation. This “smart” controller is an innovative two wire system capable of controlling up to 100 valves and is equipped with a hard drive whose wireless communication system can supply real time irrigation data (e.g., pressure changes) directly to the vineyard manager’s cell phone.
  6. P.M.S. Instruments donated the latest production “Pressure Bomb.” This is the most accurate and efficient plant moisture measuring system available. Leaf moisture is extracted and precisely measured through the use of a user-controlled pressure chamber.
  7. The WVT program has acquired the most advanced technology available in portable, soil moisture probes. The “T.D.R. Vineyard Scout” will eliminate any guesswork related to irrigation strategies. This is a very recent development in this type of technology and LPC will be the first and only vineyard using this advanced tool in the field.
  8. There is a solar-powered, wireless communication weather station donated by Davis Instruments at the vineyard site. This unit will communicate real time climatic conditions (e.g., soil and canopy temperatures) directly to the coordinator’s computer. It will allow proactive irrigation strategies to be enacted instantaneously. This weather station is also tied into the National Weather Service’s broadcast system which will help in forecasting additional, long term irrigation needs. It is “ET” programmable which allows county weather monitoring stations to actually control the vineyard irrigation system though compiled local weather data.

After the stock at Campus Hill Vineyard matures, some of the grapes produced will be used by the VWT program for the production of demonstration wines. By design, and with industry support, Campus Hill Vineyard at Las Positas College will provide a beautiful hallmark at the new entrance to the College. It will also move LPC to the forefront of community college viticulture education.


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