Maybe it’s the traditionalist in me that always notes the wineries where the same person, or people, shape the wines from vineyard to bottle. There is the often repeated saying, “great wines are made in the vineyard’. It is true that without superior grapes you don’t have anything to build on, but sometimes I wonder if the winemaker is trying to shift the blame when their attention to detail wanders, resulting in less than a happy wine.
When the same person grows the grapes and makes the wine there is no one else to blame, so you better get it right. The other day I was at Hagafen Winery tasting with friends, They are one of Napa’s only Kosher wine producers, and they produce good, solid, well made wines at a moderate price point.
Ernie Weir, the owner, grower and wine maker, first came to Napa in the early 70’s after studying sociology at UCLA. He took some wine making courses at the local college and one of his instructors noticed this bright kid and offered a suggestion. Domaine Chandon was just opening their Domaine Chandon in Yountville, and Ernie should come to the job fair. He was one of the first people hired and he continued there for many years.
As a side project he started Hagafen in 1979 using grapes from the Winery Lake DiRosa Vineyard across the road from Domaine Carneros. Over time he developed his own vineyards and built a pretty winery on the Silverado Trail in the Oak Knoll district. Producing a high quality Kosher wine, a special niche, has probably helped him gain surprisingly wide distribution for a small winery. Of course, experience counts for a lot in wine making, and every vintage you harvest and process is a world of growth and decisions that ultimately lead to a bottle of wine, in this case all guided by the same hand.
Call 707-235-2648 for Tours, Books & Seminars Copyright Ralph & Lahni de Amicis 2013 All tasting fees, hours, wine lists, etc are subject to change.