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John and Dana Hawley came to Dry Creek Valley in 1975. John built their house on the weekends, overlooking a dilapidated vineyard. John did his best to care for the unkempt vineyard and was eventually able to harvest a small amount of Zinfandel with family and friends in 1979. Sadly, the vineyard had seen better days. With many vines diseased or dead it did not produce enough crop to be viable. In 1982 the old vines were ripped out and the ground was prepared for a new seven acre block of Merlot. A case of John’s hobby wine from the old vines still slumbers in his cellar bearing the label “Clos Du Garage”.

John Hawley sitting on barrel John Hawley pouring grapes John Hawley working hopper

Today the stocks are thick and gnarled and have seen many great vintages. Our Merlot comprised the core of Kendall-Jackson Winery’s reserve program while John was chief winemaker (1990-1996). 1995 was the first vintage under the Hawley label. The winery building was erected in 2000 in the middle of the Merlot block. The original Merlot was all replanted by 2006 because it was infected phyloxera, a root parasite that devistates grapevines. We replanted to Viognier, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Merlot and Cabernet Franc, all on resistant rootstock.