The first thing I’d like to do is introduce our newest winemakers here at Hahn. Megan McCollough, recently promoted from Assistant Winemaker to Winemaker for our Smith & Hook wines. She has been fine tuning her skills here at Hahn for the last 6 years. We also have a Hahn alumni who started his craft here 16 years ago. Taking time to work at other luxury wineries in Napa, Juan Jo Verdina has returned to us, taking over the winemaking for Hahn and Boneshaker. With all that change, we wanted to try something different this year. Megan, Juan and myself will take turns telling you about harvest, giving a broader perspective of what harvest is like for everyone, starting with me.
Another beautiful growing season has come and is about to go. An incredibly wet winter (thanks Mother Nature) transitioned to budbreak in March, blooming in May and veraison in July. Everything ran smoothly thanks to the efforts of our vineyard team.
Juan Jose and myself were thinking we would have another week before harvest, giving us a breather after spending the last week working with the cellar team to create the final 2016 SLH Pinot Noir and Chardonnay blends. As fate would have it, I woke up yesterday morning to watch the 5am weather report only to think I might still be dreaming. We are expecting 100+ degree temperatures over the next five days!
Those types of temperatures ramp up the accumulation of sugar as well as phenolic ripening in the grapes. If we don’t stay on top of it, it can also lead to raisins. What does that mean for us? It means harvest starts today!
Juan Jose and I have been hitting the vineyards hard this last week scouting out what should come in first. Today we have decided to harvest one of our most prized blocks of Pinot Noir on Smith Vineyard. Sitting at about 1,200 feet above sea level, it is our highest elevated block. Historically, this is the first block to come off as it has the most exposure to the sun, but is also a clone of Pinot Noir that produces pea sized berries. The pea sized fruit is destemmed and put in a tank for fermentation, yielding beautiful texture and color due to the high proportion of skins in the juice.
As other blocks come in and the buzz of harvest takes full flight, I am happy to share it with everyone.