Hirsch Vineyards - Winemaking on the Edge

Published by Patrick Robinson on 12/08/2020

Hirsch Vineyards - Winemaking on the Edge

If California had a Burgundian style Cru system then Hirsch Vineyards would sit firmly at the top of the Grand and Premier Cru tiers.

David Hirsch established Hirsch Vineyards during the 1980’s in the Fort Ross Seaview AVA, a tiny appellation with challenging terroir and its own unique micro climates. His aim was to produce site specific wines, in a time when California’s style largely rejected this idea. Hirsch’s reputation grew and the likes of Kistler and Littorai were soon buying their fruit, then in 2002 he established the winery and kept the best parcels for himself.

Yesterday some of the team at Roberson were treated to a tasting with Jasmine Hirsch, David’s daughter who now runs the business. Over an hour or so we learned about the challenges they have overcome to produce the best wine to come out of the ‘True Sonoma Coast’. Over the 400 hectares owned by Hirsch, only 30 is under vine. The rest of the landscape is unforgiving, owing to its proximity to the San Andreas Fault.

Hirsch Vineyards

The vineyards themselves are set on the ridges and divided into a number of blocks. These have varying soils, clones etc and therein have brought their own challenges. A couple of plots suffer from leaf roll virus and another vineyard is planted on rootstocks that are suffering from Phylloxera. However, due to expert vineyard management, the fruit produced is still incredible. It’s almost miraculous, and the wines that come from these stressed vines are amazing.

Jasmine explained that each block is vinified individually. Once the final wine is made it is then blended into the right cuvee. These wines are incredibly site and terroir specific and have their own characters which can still be picked out each vintage. Jasmine described 2016 as “a classic Hirsch vintage, it allowed the individual terroirs to really stand out…Gorgeous wines”

Jasmine was not wrong, the purity of fruit, the fine acidity, beautiful tannins, the differing expressions in each cuvee, they really are gorgeous.

Hirsch West Ridge

Please see below a summary of the wines tasted:

2016 'San Andreas Fault' Estate Pinot Noir

Their flagship wine, what David calls ‘Hirsch Hirsch’, if you were only to ever try one Hirsch wine make it this one. A true expression of what they do made from a blend of 30 parcels. Lovely ripe red fruit, a fine line of acidity, very approachable. Jasmine likens this to a blend of Premiers Cru.

2016 'Reserve' Estate Pinot Noir

A super-charged San Andreas made from a blend from around 10 blocks. Much more structure and ageing potential than the Reserve, very ripe and intense. Jasmine likens this to a blend of Grands Cru.

2016 'West Ridge' Pinot Noir

A micro terroir from the western side of the property, a selection of 3 blocks, some vines affected by leaf roll virus. A very elegant refined expression of pinot, with lovely acidity. This is the most delicate of Hirsch’s wines.

2016 'East Ridge' Pinot Noir

A selection from the oldest parcels on the east ridge, the warmest site on the property with some vines stressed by Phylloxera. A rich intense offering with superb concentration and structure.

2016 'Raschen Ridge' Pinot Noir

From a plot in the middle of the property, this is a minute bottling from vines approximately 20 years old. Great structure, incredible purity of fruit with fine tannins, a very energetic wine.


“Hirsch is new world fruit and old world structure”

The wonders of Hirsch do not cease to amaze, they are a winemaker who manage to produce Pinots to suit every taste and they come highly recommended. Jasmine mentioned these wines show the Californian sunshine without the heat, the highest abv they produce is around 13.5%.

For our Private Clients; if you would like any more information or to place an order, please do contact Private Client sales manager Patrick Robinson: patrick.robinson@robersonwine.com

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