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Benefits of an Estate Vineyard

As all winemakers know, winemaking starts in the vineyard. Having our winery at the southeast corner of our vineyard (30 feet away!) ensures that I’m out in the vineyard frequently. That, in my opinion, has a great impact on wine quality. Here's a quick video of us harvesting Malbec right in front of the winery.

There are so many benefits to having the vineyard near the winery:

  • There’s no travel time for me when I need to sample the grapes. At a moment’s notice, Sarah and I head out to a certain block and taste the grapes to see how they are progressing…and our dog, Annie, comes with us!
  • Because I am out in the vineyard frequently, I am in close communication with Vineyard Manager, David Huebel, and our crew. Here's a snapshot David took from the harvester one morning. 

Vineyard manager David shares some images from harvesting.

  • When we are picking, I walk from the winery into the vineyard and see how the harvesting is going. Is the machine picking cleanly? How is the fruit quality? What are the yields like? Those are just few of the questions that can be easily answered when I’m out in the vineyard during Harvest and will help improve wine quality later.
  • I am able to start or stop picking very quickly. Weather has a big impact on when we pick the grapes. One day this Harvest, we were picking Malbec and it started to sprinkle. Between arrivals of gondolas, I quickly walked out into the vineyard and assessed whether the mist would influence wine quality. It wasn’t enough to have an impact, so we continued picking.
  • Once a gondola is full, the grapes are at the winery within 10 minutes. This is a huge benefit to wine quality! (With long travel time from vineyard to winery, grapes can warm up and start to ferment prematurely.)

Parke Hafner unloading Chardonnay grapes.    The crush pad is very close to the vineyard at Hafner and that is very helpful.

  • This year, the yields are lower than expected and being so close to the vineyard, I learned this immediately. I was able to have David pick a few extra rows so we could still make the same amount of wine…we wouldn’t want any of our patrons to go thirsty! (We sell the grapes we do not use, so unfortunately the other winery won’t receive as much as they anticipated.)

Hafner Vineyard Harvest Crew

  • Having the vineyard right outside gives us a beautiful view 365 days a year. We are very grateful for that!

Picking Malbec at Hafner Vineyard in Alexander Valley

Those are just a few of the reasons that I am grateful to have the vineyard so close to the winery. Overall it improves the quality of wine…and the quality of life here at Hafner Vineyard. To read a blog by David about machine harvesting, click here.

A brief Harvest update before I get back down into the cellar…The 2015 Harvest has been more about quality than quantity. The quality of grapes is extremely high; however, our yields have been down across all varieties. All our Chardonnay, Malbec and Petit Verdot are fermenting in the cellar while we have just started picking our Cabernet. It has been a nice, evenly paced Harvest with not too many surprises from Mother Nature…yet. Now back to work!