Harvest 2019 at Hahn is underway! Over the last two weeks we picked five tons each of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from Smith Vineyard, all destined for our sparkling wine program. There will be a lull before we bring in grapes for our still wines; all the vineyards have gone through veraison but those grapes still have some ripening to do.

Pinot Noir destined for sparkling wine

Our growing season started with a sizable amount of rain during the winter months. Depending on the vineyard we got between 14 and 17 inches, compared to the 10-12 inches we see in an average year. As a result we didn’t have to start irrigating until May, several months later than usual. Thanks to Mother Nature for delivering us big water savings this year!

There was a flip side to the rain, however, because we ended up getting a pretty good storm in May when some of our Pinot Noir was in bloom. Rain during this delicate period can result in the development of grape clusters we refer to as “hens and chicks,” where the berries are of various sizes and levels of maturity. We were a little worried since this isn’t an ideal scenario. But since we have 20 different clones of Pinot Noir which go through bloom at slightly different times, the rain didn’t cause as much damage as we feared. While our yields are a little lower and some of the berries are smaller this year, we’re seeing consistency and quality in our Pinot Noir across the board.

Kathleen and Cato (the falcon) hard at work

Ripening grapes seem to be a siren call for starlings and blackbirds, and so we brought back our falconer, Kathleen Tigan, the second week of August. She’ll stay with us for about six weeks, moving between our Doctor’s, Smith, Hook and Lone Oak Vineyards. The falcon, a natural bird of prey, doesn’t hurt the other birds, but it does scare them away. We use Kathleen and her falcon in combination with Mylar tape on the vines as well as noise cannons to keep the birds moving. We wish they didn’t like our Chardonnay and Pinot Noirs so much, but we try to use the most sustainable and humane methods possible to keep them at bay.

Patrick Headley, Director of Viticulture