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Fall Newsletter

21st Oct 2016 @ 15:07 by Paul


Early morning picking, late night punch downs, aromas of fermenting grapes; all a part of the harvest experience that we both look forward to and can’t wait until it’s over. 2016 is shaping up to be a fantastic vintage with moderate temperatures, medium crop size and great flavor. Being a small winery and making wine in small lots from single vineyards means a lot more hands-on work and attention to detail, but it also allows for greater control over every step of the process. Many of the decisions affecting the final wine are made during harvest and fermentation so this is the most important and busiest time of the year for winemakers. We don’t get much rest but the excitement of harvest keeps us going. The harvest usually starts winding down in October with the last grapes to be picked being Petite Sirah and Nebbiolo. The harvest moon will be setting soon and we will be celebrating with a frosty brew!


John’s new Goshawk, named Happy, is becoming a great hunter. This spring he will lose the brown juvenile plumage and emerge dark gray. His eyes will also change color to red-orange. John trains with him daily, flying in the vineyard after a lure. He started hunting game birds, like pheasant, this winter and Happy is proving to be a good hunter. The mews, or hawk house, sits above the vineyard where Happy keeps a close eye out for rabbits that sneak in to the vineyard for a nibble on the fresh buds.


Paul planted 1/4 acres of hops next to the winery and has been using them in his beer at Fogbelt Brewing Co. This year he banded together other local small-scale hop farmers to start the NorCal Hop Growers Alliance. The group raised money and bought a hop picking machine that made this year’s harvest much easier. Sonoma County was once one of the nation’s most important hop growing regions and they hope to bring it back.


John Hawley left Kendell-Jackson in 1996 to start Hawley Winery and crush his first vintage of Viognier and Merlot from the estate. While working on projects in France, he had envied the lifestyle of the small producers in Burgundy and thought it would be a welcome change of pace from the stress of running production at a large facility. John admittingly underestimated the amout of work it takes to start and run a small winery and vineyard. He single-handedly ran Hawley until 2005, when his sons, Paul and Austin, started helping full-time. This year John is taking a back-seat and letting Austin run harvest. He plans to take on more of a consulting winemaker role and let his boys take over the day to day winery operations. Of course, he still lives right up the hill from the winery so he can still holler at us from the deck. Nobody knows what the next 20 years will bring but it is sure to be celebrated with lots of great Hawley wines! See you at the 20th Anniversary Harvest Party!