To economically survive these days, every wine grape vineyard and winery must continually evolve or else face a closed door by consumers looking for the latest and greatest products elsewhere.

One of the many operations embracing change is Hahn Family Wines, a family-owned, premium grape vineyard and winery operation based in Soledad in the Santa Lucia Highlands (SLH) in Monterey County. The operation was founded in 1979.

“Pinot Noir is at the core of our operation today,” said Andy Mitchell, Hahn Family Wines director of viticulture.

“The Santa Lucia Highlands has ideal conditions for growing Pinot Noir,” the veteran grape grower said. “The area’s microclimates and soils, along with various clonal and rootstock combinations, unite to form great complexity in the grapes.”

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The elevations of Hahn vineyards range from 300-1,200 feet.

Mitchell manages wine grape vineyards totaling 1,100 acres, including about 40 clones. The majority of the acreage is Pinot Noir – about 620 acres with 20 clones. Other varietals include Chardonnay (13 clones), Grenache (1), Merlot (2), Pinot Gris (1), Malbec (2), and Syrah (5).

Hahn Estate is the largest grower of Pinot Noir (350 acres) along the 17-mile-long SLH AVA.

Hahn’s three vineyards in the SLH cover 653 acres: the 146-acre Lone Oak Vineyard featuring Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Gris; Doctor’s Vineyard – 243 acres – Pinot Noir and Syrah; and Smith & Hook Vineyards, 253 acres – Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Syrah, Grenache, and Malbec.

Two vineyards about 10 miles to the south on the Salinas Valley floor in Arroyo Seco (Arroyo Seco AVA) include: Ste. Phillippe – 290 acres – Pinot Noir, Merlot, and Grenache; and Ste. Nicholas Vineyards – 171 acres– Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.