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The 2002 Vintage

Dear Friends,
Welcome to the initial release of Hirsch wines. We’d like to share with you, a founding member of the mailing list, the reason we decided to make estate wines. For twenty plus years our sole concentration rested on developing an understanding of this site so appropriate farming practices could be found and used. When we started in 1980, there was only a handful of acres planted in this area. No one realized the potential it held for growing excellent pinot noir. Hands on experience taught us which applications were effective from one vintage to the next. The weather here is so varied, as are the soils, that there is little consistency from year to year. {Old timers when asked to forecast the weather would say it will be whether it rains or whether it will be dry.J This, of course, increases the degreeof difficulty to find and apply practices that work in the vineyard.

So, for the past 25 years we focused our efforts in the fields. Fàrtunately, some very fine winemakers have purchased our fruit, and these partnerships greatly helped us to discover better viticultural practices for the production of fine wine. By 2001 we realized that even these relationships had their limits in giving feedback to the farming. Thus, the decision was made to make our own wine as the final step in the viticultural process. The 2002 wines offered here are the first products of this decision.

Attached are some of the thoughts generated over the years as we pursued development of the vineyards. Always the goal has been to grow fruit that expresses most profourtdly the site’s characteristics. Additional notes are given on the vintage, and on the blocs and vines that are the wines.

And lastly but not leastly: these are real wines from a dynamic site for growing pinot noir; as such, the wine is for drinking and heartfelt gustation; and we wish you well in your enjoyment of this labor of love and bounty of nature. May this be the beginning of a long running relationship between you the bibbler and this remarkable site and the wines it produces.

Best Regards,
David Hirsch

4B MT. EDEN 45% SEPT. 10, 2002
5 POMMARD 34% SEPT. 12,2002
8 POMMARD 21% SEPT. 13,2002

2002 began with a warm spell in late Feb. and early March. Bud break came between March 1-5 in different blocs. Spring temperatures were normal. There was enough spring rainfall on top of the ‘normal’ 80” the area receives to provide adequate soil moisture for the growing season. There was no irrigation in the blocs until the heat came on at the end of veraision. Flowering began on May 20 and reached 90% bloom by June 12. Set was complete by June 22. The temperatures rose up into the 90’s for most days between May 24 and June 13. The heat resumed in late June and lasted without much relief through most of July. It was 107 degrees on July 10 (It does get hot here!). First color was sighted July 15 and reached 10 % by the end of thç month. By Aug. 10 the fields were at 50% veraision.

After a brief respite, the heat returned on Aug. 8 and then again on the 27th, reaching 96 by Sept. 4. This final heat spike quickly drove up the sugars as much by dehydration as by photosynthesis (vines shut down at high temperatures). Part of the reason for the hyper- increase in soluble solids was the thinning done, during veraision. For some years the vines had been acutely green thinned at the request of our winery customers. We now feel that imbalance can come with undercropping as well as over cropping. Fortunately it cooled off for three days between Sept. 7 and 9 allowing us to quickly organize the harvest which began on the 10th.

Ranch wide, the per acre yield was 1.8 tons. The three blocs that provided the fruit for .the Hirsch Winery wine gave exactly two tons to the acre. The moving five year
average yield for all blocs is 2.1 tons.

The Mount Eden grown on Hirsch Vineyards came from the old Martin Ray bloc now part of Mt. Eden Vineyard and Winery in Saratoga,. Ca. These old and heavily virused vines were propagated from ones brought from Burgundy by Paul Masson in the 1880’s. We grafted the Mt. Eden in 1989 onto S04 rootstock in the Old Vineyard that had been budded to riesling originally. A lot of work has been done in our Mt Eden blocs to select the least infected wood which helps with even maturity of the fruit at harvest. We like the Mt. Eden for its spicy aromas, wonderful structure, and its individuality. This is not commercial, cleaned up “plant material”. Wonderful vineyard designate wines based on our Mt. Eden have come from Littoral and Kistler, among others.

The pommard comes from 1000 self rooted vines we planted in 1980. When some years later I asked the friend who gave us the plants where they were from, he thought they came from Oregon, but wasn’t sure. A few years back, Lucy Morton, an amphelologist, identified the vines in the mother bloc as being both pommard 4 and wadensvil. She said the Oregon state nursery mixed the two when they filled their orders in he 1970’s with the1result that many of the older Oregon (and Ca.) wineries have both clones. We used wood from the original 1000 vines to bud rootstock in many of our fields, including #8 and # 5 which gave us the fruit for the 2002 estate wine. The pommard over the years has been the significant clone in many of the signature Hirsch Vineyard designates, especially from Williams Selyem.


The 2002 (and 2003) wines were made by Vanessa Wong, formerly of Peter Michael Winery, and now with Peay Vineyards and Winery. We consider ourselves very fortunate to have had he benefit of Vanessa’s experience, expertise, and commitment for these initial vintages.



Produced entirely from the original old vineyards and heritage pinot clones, the 2002 Hirsch is 45% Mt. Eden clone from Block 4B, 34% Pommard from Block 5, and 21% Pommard from Block 8. This is a real wine from a dynamic site for growing pinot noir; as such, the wine is for drinking and heartfelt gustation.