What is in this article?:
- Hahn's reinvents Central Coast wine-grape business
- Change is in the air
- Success a team effort
- Mechanical harvest
- The future
- 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.
Success a team effort
A large part of the turnaround is tied to Paul Clifton, Hahn’s general manager director of winemaking. Clifton tastes most grape lots on the cusp of the harvest. He makes the final call on the harvest dates.
Updated cultural practices and other methods have added to Hahn’s success.
This April, the Hahn family partnered with Mesa Vineyard Management to manage the day-to-day operations of the estate vineyards.
On pruning, Hahn’s tries to prune each vine to its potential to create a balance vine throughout the growing season.
Hahn’s has four Pellenc Model 8590 selective process viticulture vineyard machines to carryout various vineyard tasks, including the plug-in Visio pre-pruner unit to remove canes from the wires.
The final pruning pass is by hand using a battery-powered, hand-held pruner from Electrocoup. Mitchell conducted a survey several years ago which revealed the Electrocoup pruners increased worker efficiency up to 30 percent.
“The results are less worker fatigue and increased worker productivity,” Mitchell said.
Shoot thinning begins in mid-to-late April to generate good airflow and improve the benefits of treatment applications.
Leaf removal is 100 percent by hand for the high-end grape programs. Leaves and basil laterals are removed from the canopy interior, leaving an outer layer of leaves to protect against sunburn.
In many “B” blocks, a Clemens leafing machine is used to improve pest management efforts.
Most of the vineyards are trained with the vertical shoot positioning system (VSP). The Smart-Dyson system is used in selected blocks to open the canopy and reduce hand-leafing needs.
The SLH is an ideal terrior for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and for powdery mildew and mealybug, both managed with integrated pest management.
On nutrients, Mitchell embraces s “spoon feeding” approach for plants; based on petiole, leaf, and soil analyses, plus well water testing for nitrogen levels.
The cool climate creates an extended “hang time” for the grapes. Some vineyards elsewhere complete the grape harvest before Hahn’s starts in mid-to-late September.