What is in this article?:
- The Hahn family operation includes 1,100 acres of wine grapes in Soledad and Arroya Seco.
- The family operates wineries in Soledad (Monterey County) and Lodi (San Joaquin County).
- The area is a great location for growing Pinot Noir grapes.
Change is in the air
Turn the calendar back 15 years to 1998. The Hahn operation was much different. Large plantings of Bordeaux varietals, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc, filled the vineyards. The focus was on big, ripe flavors.
Today, the focus is Burgundean varietals.Optimal maturity, including fruit harvest at just the right time, gives wines finesse.
“I feel very fortunate to have been a part of the dramatic change in the makeup of these vineyards,” said Mitchell.
After removing vineyards, replanting, and grafting on the estate’s Smith & Hook vineyard, a mere three short rows of Cabernet Sauvignon remain.
Mitchell laughed, “It makes really good jelly.”
His rationale for the varietal shift was to better target varietals with the cool growing conditions on the emerald “Highlands Islands” in the SLH AVA.
Each year, about 10-15 percent of the estate acreage is converted to new clones of Burgundian and Rhone varietals with decisions based mostly on market demand.
“Clones to a winemaker are like what a palate is to a painter,” Mitchell quipped.
“The unique characteristics of the local terrior, combined with the clones, give our grapes and ultimately our wines complexity and layers of flavor.”
The Hahn family is very pleased with the end results. Mitchell shares that other factors have also played into Hahn’s success, including teamwork from the vineyard to the winery and vice-a-versa.
“When I first started with the company in 1998 we were essentially vineyards that had a winery,” Mitchell reflected. “Today we are a winery that has vineyards.”