This is our final week of harvest at Hahn! We brought in the last of the Chardonnay from our Lone Oak Vineyard and today we’re finishing up with a last load of hand-picked Grenache from Hook Vineyard. We’re putting the Grenache into open top fermenters in the form of whole berries, a technique which yields a wine with bright fruit and lighter tannins. Eventually we’ll blend this with earlier lots of Grenache that were crushed and then fermented in closed tanks. All of these lots are destined for our SLH Grenache, and we use these different fermentation methods to give us choices and complexity when we do the final blending.
Although we won’t bring any more fruit into the winery in 2019, there’s still plenty of work to be done in the cellar. We have dozens of fermentations going on both in tank (reds) and barrel (whites), and we monitor each one daily to ensure the wines are going dry. As we monitor the reds, which can take up to fourteen days to go dry, we determine which French oak barrels we’ll use with each lot. When a red wine goes dry, we drain the tank, press the wine off the skins, and rack it into the barrels we’ve chosen. Once the wines – both red and white – are finished with their primary fermentations and settled in barrels, we’ll inoculate them with bacteria for the secondary malolactic fermentation. Again, we’ll monitor each lot consistently to ensure ML is complete. We hope to have all the wines in barrel by Christmas, but realistically it may be January before they’re put to bed.
The end of harvest is always sweet. Our team is tired after working six- and seven-day weeks for two months, and they look forward to a regular schedule and some well-earned time off. We’ll celebrate next week with the Hahn family who will be here to host a big luncheon for the whole crew. We have much to be thankful for this year. The weather during our growing season was near perfect, our harvest went smoothly and the vintage looks to be another California classic. I look forward to sharing the wines of 2019 with you in the years to come.
Paul Clifton, V.P. of Winemaking