SOUTH COUNTY — May 25 marked National Wine Day, honoring wines throughout the Salinas Valley. Two wineries in South Monterey County are Scheid Winery and Hahn Family Wines.
Scheid winemaker Marta Kraftzeck is in charge of the Scheid label and says that every year the winery produces approximately 30 different wines. The wines vary from red to white to dessert wine.
“I really like the harvest because everything is alive, it’s growing, it’s action packed,” Kraftzeck said. “To me, it’s where the winemaker has the most influence, when you’re actually doing the fermentation.”
The upcoming harvest will be Kraftzeck’s ninth with Scheid and her 34th year of harvest. Harvest runs from August until the first week in November.
“Our harvest season is long because not all our grapes get ripe at once,” Kraftzeck said. “Different varieties of grapes take different lengths of time to get ripe.”
According to Kraftzeck, California wines began with the Missions and was pushed backwards during Prohibition. Kraftzeck said what really made California wines take off was the “Judgement of Paris” in 1976. The Judgement of Paris is a wine tasting hosted by a British wine merchant and pitied French wines against California wines, Cabernet and Chardonnay blends.
“The California wines came in first and our very own Chalone came in third with the white wine that year,” Kraftzeck said. “If you look at a graph of California wine production after 1976, you could just see it just take off.”
An article about the tasting was featured in Time Magazine and the tasting was not covered by French media, according to Kraftzeck, because the French were a little embarrassed.
Scheid is located in Greenfield on Hobson Road.
During the late 1970s, another winery emerged further north in the Santa Lucia Highlands by the name of Hahn Family Wines. According to Tasting Room Assistant Manager Jessica Schmidt, the Hahn Family Winery started out as a Cabernet producer.
“After a few years, Nicky (Hahn) and Gabi (Gabrielle Hahn) put two and two together of realizing the Cabernet doesn’t necessary grow well out in this area just because it’s a lot colder and we are closer to the coastline,” Schmidt said. “We get a lot of winds in the Santa Lucia Highlands and that keeps the temperatures much lower during the day. We are now mostly known for Chardonnays and Pinots.”
The Hahn Family Wines is family owned and family run and S.I.P. certified. Phillip Hahn, Nicky and Gabi’s son, is the current chairmen of the board, and Caroline Hahn, Nicky and Gabi’s daughter, also is involved with the Hahn Family Wines.
“The Santa Lucia Highlands really started becoming a AVA (American Viticultural Area) in the mid-90s,” Schmidt said. “Rich Smith and Nicky Hahn petitioned to start the Santa Lucia Highlands. I think what most people know the Santa Lucia Highlands for is definitely the rippling winds that come through and Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.”
According to Schmidt, the thing that differentiates the Hahn Family Wines from other wines is the winds. The winds keep the temperatures down from the warm temperatures of the day and the cooler temperatures of the night, which Schmidt said beefs up the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
“They’ve got a beautiful backbone and thicker skins overall,” Schmidt said.
Hahn Family Wines is located in the Santa Lucia Highlands just outside of Soledad at 37700 Foothill Road. The Winery is also part of the River Road Wine trails.