Bloggers Forum 2.2: Hahn Bloggers Block Vine Planting

Bloggers Forum 2.2: Hahn Bloggers Block Vine Planting (Hardy Wallace)

A few months ago I attended what is currently the most innovative wine event of which I’ve been lucky to be a part.  Hahn Family Wines invited a group of bloggers and social media wonks down to their stunning Estate in the Santa Lucia Highlands for a day of tasting, touring and most of all…planting.  Yes, I am now the proud father of one+ Pinot Noir vitis vinifera grape vine in the SLH appellation, replete with distinguishing placard!

Hahn has been behind a number of very forward-thinking wine social media events, including founding the very first Bloggers Forum at their corporate offices in Napa, organized by the one and only WineDiverGirl, Lisa de Bruin (Twitter).  Since then, their ideas have spread with a very successful second forum at St. Supéry, organized by Lesley Keffer Russell (Twitter), and now this latest envelope-ripping event.  Here we manage to knock off a wine tasting, lunch, FULL estate tour and plant our very own Pinot vine!  Whew, time to get to work!

Bloggers Forum 2.2: Paraiso VineyardsOnce again I  traveled down there with my feisty vinopanions, the full Brix Chicks complement of Liza (Twitter), Xandria (Twitter) and Nesta (Twitter).  Amazingly…we were early (shocking for us, I know!).  We decided to make a prerunning tasting stop at the very winery that kindly directed us properly to Hahn the first time we cruised down that way for the SLH Highlands’ Fling, Paraiso Vineyards.  This time we were again, well taken care of, by one Mirella.  She poured us a varied type of wines, whereby my favorite was actually the ’07 Irie Paso Zin, a new label founded by the family’s son.  There was some great balance here with good complexity coming from the bramble and pepper in the palate.  While killing time is rarely this tasty, it was definitely time to head further down the road to Hahn!

After finding the proper place to start the day, we were greeted with the strikingly crisp, minerally ’07 Huntington DCV Sauv Blanc…yesss!  Inside the renovated, historic house that holds the new tasting room, we said hello to numerous bloggers and Hahn employees such as President Bill Leigon (Twitter), Winemaker Paul Clifton, Dir. of Vineyard Ops Andy Mitchell (possibly one my favorite wine gentleman of all time), Lisa dB and new Hahn social media maven, Philip Woodrow (Twitter, Twitter2).  Hardy Wallace (Twitter, Twitter2), winner of A Really Goode Job was also there, lighting up the room.

Bloggers Forum 2.2: Hahn Bloggers Block Vine PlantingBloggers Forum 2.2: Hahn Bloggers Block Vine PlantingWe soon headed out for the first and best activity of the day, the planting of our very own grape vine.  We jumped into various vehicles and zoomed out across the 350+ acre estate to their Smith Vineyard, Block GS-1…OUR block: The Bloggers Block!  We arrived and trudged up the hill to hear instructions from Andy and his excellent crew, led by Orelio and Felipe.  We then got to work, planting as many vines as possible (though most of the holes were actually pre-dug, somewhat).  It’s not too tricky to get a ~2yr vine planted: dig a hole about 1.5′ deep, add a bunch of water, toss in a nutrient bag and then carefully position the vine vertical and right near the support post.  Tamp all the dirt back in, place the protective box around the vine, tie the box to the post and there ya go!  Now go and do that 1200 more times and you start to get a picture of the work that’s actually involved!

20090530 Hahn Forum 2.2 Bloggers Block PlantingWe planted Pinot Noir (clone 828) on 3309C rootstock using Vertical Shoot Position (VSP) trellising.  All of this info was handily encapsulated with Bloggers Block Information Sheet…perfectly matching my wine-info geekiness.  I reached wino nirvana when I saw that the Google Maps coordinates of my vine were included on the sheet…information known as fully awesome.  I can watch my little guy grow throughout the seasons!

Bloggers Forum 2.2: Hahn Bloggers Block Vine PlantingWe trudged back down the hill and then headed back to the tasting room to fill our hungry vineyard bellies with a catered lunch paired with, what else, but a range of great Hahn wines.  The most intriguing wine at lunch was the ’04 “Lost Barrel” Petite Sirah.  As Philip explained it, this tasting room-only wine came from a barrel of Pet that is usually used as a blending varietal for Hahn.  The cellar workers were going through their vast barrel room and came across this barrel that had apparently been overlooked for over a year.  They tasted it, found it doing very well all on its own and decided to bottle it as a one-off special lot of wine.  I found it still very young, but with some great promise to be a balanced monster of a Pet.

Bloggers Forum 2.2: Hahn Bloggers Block Vine PlantingBloggers Forum 2.2: Hahn Bloggers Block Vine PlantingSatiated, we grabbed a glass of our favorite vino from lunch and moved over to their demo vineyard outside the tasting room for a further lesson on the history of grape growing at Hahn.  Andy led this informative session, whereby we learned quite a bit about the various trellising systems and directional planting methods that they’ve used over the years.  Following that was a rousing, higher elevation tour of the Estate in Paul’s Rhino, ending up at the winemaking facilities for a final barrel-tasting.

We tasted two different vineyard lots of 2008 Pinot, which proved to be quite eye-opening.  The differences were quite distinct, even in these very young lots of wines, despite the same appellation.  The two lost were the 828 Hook Ranch Vineyard that had 6 months of mixed French oak.  My notes are below:

Bloggers Forum 2.2: Hahn Bloggers Block Vine PlantingColor: good dark ruby

Nose: good tarter cherry, slight cola

Palate: Medium to full, subtle oak, great cherry/cranberry mix, subtle cola, and very bright with baking spice in the long bright red and root beer finish.

The second lot was the 828 Doctor’s Vineyard, same oak treatment.  I found this one deeper and more complex, as seen in my notes:

Color: Darker ruby, violet tint & edges

Nose: Very deep, red fruit good brightness but more subdued with more black cherry, blackberry earth & dust

Palate: Very smooth, full, with good tannin & great acid but fruit still red & black and deeper red with great complexity earthier, drier cinnamon spice in finish. More root beer than cola.

Bloggers Forum 2.2: Hahn Bloggers Block Vine PlantingLast up was an early taste in the fermentation tank of the now released 2007 Cycles Gladiator California Clement Pinot Noir, the second Pinot in the Cycles Gladiator line.  This one was toasty with some complex red fruit of cherry and rhubarb.  It was time to head out and back into the Bay, however, as we still had one more wine engagement for the day.  I’m not sure if I could say enough thanks to everyone at Hahn, as they bid us a safe passage back with a goodie-bag in hand…so if I didn’t T-H-A-N-K-Y-O-U!!

Bloggers Forum 2.2: Hahn Bloggers Block Vine PlantingBloggers Forum 2.2: Hahn Bloggers Block Vine PlantingWe headed back to Wine Witiculturalist Russ’ (Twitter) pad for Craig Camp’s (Twitter) Taste Live! tasting of three Cornerstone Cellars Cabs, like, yum!  Three Cabernets were available to taste, thanks to Bin Ends Wines (Twitter), the ’02 and ’04 Howell Mountain’s and the ’05 Napa Valley.  I found the ’02 a to be tired, but the ’04 and ’05 were doing phenomenal, with the ’04 just squeaking by for the winner of the tasting, what a young beast of a Cab!  The 2004 Cornerstone Howell Cab was just the thing to finish off and incredible day of wine, whew.

20090829 My Bloggers Block Pinot Noir Vine @HahnWines[UPDATE] @WineDog snapped a pic of my very own placard and vine yesterday!

Feel free to peruse my reviews below, of all of the wines that we tried that day as well as all of my photos…what a day it was!!  If you would like to list these in your own WineLog, they are all tagged with “BlogForumPlanting2009” and “TTL2009Cornerstone“.  Enjoy!

Paraiso Vineyards:

Paraiso Santa Lucia Highlands Reisling 2007

Paraiso Santa Lucia Highlands Estate Pinot Noir 2007

Irie Paso Robles Zinfandel 2007

Paraiso Santa Lucia Highlands Souzao Port NV

Hahn Estates:

Huntington Dry Creek Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2007

Hahn Santa Lucia Highlands SLH Estate Pinot Gris 2007

Lucienne Santa Lucia Highlands Doctor’s Vineyard Pinot Noir 2007

Hahn Santa Lucia Highlands SLH Estate Syrah 2006

Hahn Santa Lucia Highlands SLH Estate Syrah 2007

Cycles Gladiator California Clement Pinot Noir 2007

Hahn Santa Lucia Highlands Estate Lost Barrel Petite Sirah 2004

Cornerstone Cellars:

Cornerstone Cellars Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2005

Cornerstone Cellars Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 2004

Cornerstone Cellars Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 2002

Grape Pirate Booty or How I've Infiltrated Mutineer Magazine

If you haven’t yet run into Mutineer Magazine (Twitter)…now is the time!  MM is the best new drinks culture magazine to come out in decades, if my opinion matters for anything.  While they aren’t exactly new, celebrating their one year anniversary with this issue #7, they have already had a quite an impact on the beverage industry during their explosive growth.  No drink is left unmolested, with features in virtually every issue on wine, beer, spirits and non-alchos.

This latest issue also contains my very first print article.  I accomplished this task by secretly pouring the Absynthe that was kindly offered to me by Head Mutineer Alan Kropf (Twitter) into an acidic hole in the floor below me at the first WBC, last year.  Meanwhile as Alan sunk greener and greener, I successfully negotiated my first piece, whaahaa!  MM has been extremely supportive of the blogosphere forming a great synergism.  They also have their own pretty rad blog, themselves.

Anyhow, I decided to join my two passions for this first assignment and tackled the link between grapes and health.  Resveratrol is the compound (or Pirates’ Booty) found in grape skins that conveys many of the health benefits that have been attributed to wine over its long history.  I break down the latest facts and promising finds about this tiny organic molecule.

Need to find the latest issue?  You can find them nation-wide at Barnes & Noble, Borders, Amazon, Vons, Safeway, Books-A-Million, Hastings and B. Dalton.  Or, just check out their snazzy new Mutineer Locator.  You best plan however, is just to fork out the $15 bucks and subscribe.  Enjoy!

WBC09: Twisted Wine Bloggers' Conference Rundown

2009 North American Wine Bloggers' ConferenceThe recovery is almost over…I have managed to survive another incredibly awesome North American Wine Bloggers’ Conference, once again headquartered at the Flamingo in Santa Rosa (Sonoma Valley). The 4 days of vino-frenzy began with a trek out to Murphys in the longtime wine region of Calaveras County, where some Twisted wine fun was had by a few  lucky bloggers who made the trek.  Hosted by El Jefe (Twitter) & Scott (Twitter) of Twisted Oak & Newsome-Harlow, we visited the tasting rooms of Hatcher, Newsome-Harlow, Tanner and finished up at the TO tasting room with some Renner wines.

Sonoma Valley Vintners & Growers AllianceThe next day we awoke to more perfect weather, some sleepy eyes and a large interest in hitting the road, as my fellow vinopanions and myself had a 3 hour drive to Sonoma.  We made it in the nick of time, registered very smoothly and got a great goody bag of fun before the 2nd annual Live Wine Blogging (Speed Blogging, Wine Speed Dating, etc) got rolling.  It was here that the conference hit a major snag…imminently crashable wifi.  We were only able to get about 2 minutes of connectivity before we lost our connection…after finding out that it was partly due to a DNoS attack, the joke was that Parker was on the offensive again! After the American Wine Blogger Awards ceremony, we rebooted the Live Blogging and had another blast of a time.  Wines from Snows Lake and Tandem kicked my booty for wines of the session.  Following that was a the Grand Tasting of Sonoma Wines, a very tasty dinner courtesy of Sonoma County Tourism & Sonoma Valley Vintners and the official afterparty tasting by the Russian River Valley Winegrowers.  Wow and that was just Day 1!

I began Day two in surprisingly better shape than the last two…go vino-power!  Sleepy wine bloggers dragged their butts into shuttles and headed over to Napa for a full day and evening of wine events, powered by Napa Valley Vintners. First stop was the iconic CIA at Greystone for a few keynotes talks, including a fantastic one by Barry Schuler (Twitter) of AOL fame and current Meteor vintner in Napa.  We piled back in the shuttles and mine ended up at one of my favorites, Cuvaison, in their newly finished facility in Carneros.  There we had lunch and a great discussion about Napa Green with President, Jay Schuppert.  We then headed to Staglin for a Vintners’ Panel, followed by the Napa Grand Tasting at Quintessa.  We finished off the our time in Napa having a great meal and blending session at Conn Creek.  Kept warm on the way home courtesy of some Mutineer Obsello Green Fairy, we finished the whole day with an outstanding tasting of Portuguese wine, courtesy of ViniPortugal (Twitter).

Winegrowers of Dry Creek ValleyDay 3 started with some educational breakout sessions, including a good one by newly crowned Murphy-Goode Job winner, Hardy Wallace (Twitter) and Lisa de Bruin (Twitter)and co., talking about video blogging. We bid farewell to the conference as we darted out for the last event(s) of the day, but man, were they good final events!  We dined under the trees and umbrellas with an outstanding meal at Dry Creek Vineyard, which also featured some fine wines from Gustafson and Rued.  The lunch and subsequent goodie bags and treats were courtesy of the Winegrowers of Dry Creek Valley.  Following that, I chose to attend the vineyard walk at Michel Schlumberger (Twitter), courtesy of Sonoma Vineyard Walks.  It was led by the inimitable Judd Wallenbrock (Twitter) and Jim Morris (Twitter) and company…very good times and good wines!

Open Wine ConsortiumExhausted, we headed back to our less vinous lives and left the wonderful Sonoma Valley.  What an incredible time and I don’t think that I can thank organizers Joel Vincent (Twitter) of Open Wine Consortium and Allan Wright of Zephyr Wine Adventures nearly enough for such a great weekend.  Another big thank you goes out to the conference sponsors, without which this conference would not only be incredibly expensive, but actually lack existence!

Look for more posts from the WBC09 (Twitter Search) in the weeks to come, as I go into more detail about certain wine adventures that I had throughout the weekend.  Right now however, I’m headed out on vacation for a week+ from the day and night job with the Lady, relaxing at Sanctuary Camelback Mountain in the Arizona desert.  I’m greatly looking forward to (almost) completely disconnecting and enjoying fine food, workouts, cigars and of course, *wine*.Woot!


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