I don’t want to jinx it, but I have to say the pace of harvest this year has been ideal. With near perfect fall weather, we’ve been able to cherry-pick which vineyards, blocks, and clones of Pinot Noir we harvest as the grapes reach absolute ripeness. And while the yields we’re getting are a bit lower than we’d like, they’re not as low as we anticipated. By the end of the week, we’ll have brought in the last of our Lucienne Pinot Noir from our Santa Lucia Highlands vineyards. Then it’s on to Chardonnay.
Unlike other growing regions in California, it’s normal for us to harvest SLH Chardonnay after SLH Pinot Noir. Our Pinot Noir vines don’t set a big crop, the clusters are smaller, and the fruit ripens more quickly than Chardonnay. Plus, Pinot Noir is more susceptible to heat spikes, which can dehydrate and shrivel the grapes. Chardonnay, with its larger berries, can handle more heat and hang time. That said, we have brought in a little bit of Chardonnay from our newer plantings in Hook Vineyard; the small amount of fruit on these young vines ripened at the same pace as the Pinot Noir.
But the bulk of our Chardonnay is still out there. In the Santa Lucia Highlands, we wait not only for the sugars to rise but the acids to fall. If we picked our Chardonnay too early, the acid in the wine would rip the enamel right off your teeth. We have to be patient because the cool nighttime temperatures here slow the respiration needed to bring the grape acids down. In a few days, I anticipate the acid levels in our Chardonnay will be ideal.
In the cellar, several lots of our SLH Pinot Noir are already dry and resting in barrels. Others are still fermenting, but I expect those fermentations to wrap up by the end of next week. The wines we’ve pressed so far look really good. Great color, beautiful aromatics, classic SLH Pinot Noir. Again, not to jinx it, but 2021 is shaping up to be a fine vintage.
Director of Winemaking
It’s here! Harvest 2021 is underway at Hahn Family Wines. This is my 19th harvest at Hahn, and I must say I’m as excited this year as I’ve been every vintage since I started here. It doesn’t hurt that we’ve had an excellent growing season. We could have used a little more rain, but we were able to irrigate early in the winter and as a result our vine canopies were healthy from the get-go. The weather through the spring and summer was very consistent with no major heat spikes to speak of, and the grapes ripened slowly and evenly. Warm temperatures this past Labor Day weekend pushed the sugars to optimum levels, and this week I called the pick in several vineyards.
A few blocks in Doctor’s Vineyard were the first to come in, including the Calera and 667 Pinot Noir clones. These are typically some of the earliest grapes we harvest, as these clones produce clusters with small berries which tend to ripen quickly. I love these small berries. They are so rich and concentrated, and they bring great color, flavor intensity as well as tannin structure to the wines. We also brought in a few blocks of Pinot Noir destined for our Noir Blanc.
This week we embarked on an exciting new project, our “Guest Lucienne” series. Typically, our Lucienne wines are sourced from our Santa Lucia Highlands estate vineyards, but honestly, there are so many great vineyards in California, and we want to be able to offer our wine club members and tasting room customers a taste of these phenomenal sites. First up is the Solomon Hills Vineyard in the Santa Maria Valley AVA in Santa Barbara County. With soils composed primarily of ocean-derived sandy loams, Solomon Hills is the western most and coolest vineyard in the appellation, with a reputation for wines of bright fruit and precise acidity. We’re excited to have access to this highly acclaimed vineyard and can’t wait to share it with you.
Until next time!
Director of Winemaking