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The 2008 Vintage

Farming can be stressful. Especially for wine grapes with high quality potential as you work at the whims of both Nature and the marketplace. And 2008 provided stress for several generations.

A cold, wet January was followed by a mild February and a very windy, cold March-April, with snow, fog, and killer frosts. We had only minimal losses from frost damage, but later learned that the cold had wounded many of the vines’ tender, growing shoot tips (these are your stem cells) so their vascular structures were impaired, interrupting the orderly flow of nutrients. This led to very uneven maturation and ripening in 2008, which provided an intense challenge for thinning and at the sorting table.

But May was beeyoutoofull with clear skies, lovely weather, the calm Pacific nestling beneath the redwoods a few miles away: Ah! Life in Paradise! The crop set just fine around June 20. That night we awoke to a spectacular display of lightening: Northern California was on fire. The heat shot up and the winds fanned the flames. Heaven to Hell in a month! Our paradise was filled with smoke for a good ten days.

It was a year of contrast and contradictions: Blocks that were routinely picked early came in late; tiny berries nestled next to large ones, some green and some ripe. Sorting in the field was akin to a ninja exercise. July saw intermittent heat and smoke. Veraision kicked off on July 12. August was hot/cold/clear/foggy-smoky. When it hit 100 on the 27th, the harvest was at hand. We started on the 31st and picked for a week in record heat. It cooled off radically on the 8th and we finished up on September 16. Thirty-eight individual lots were fermented to provide small batches of site-specific wines for our pinot cuvees.

Of course, out of this cauldron of chaos came spectacular wines. Dark plum and smoked meat fruit flavors are bound to our classic complex of acids and expressive tannins. The result is dark, lusty complete wines that combine the wonderful fruit of our ‘06’s with the structure of the 2007’s to make a comprehensive and profound expression of the site. If you want terroir, you will get the whole hog, its sty, and even the lard with this wine.


In 2008 we produced the following wines at Hirsch Vineyards:

2008 Hirsch Vineyards Estate Chardonnay

As with all the wines from Hirsch Vineyards, the purpose of our Chardonnay is to act as a vehicle to express the vineyard site. Through our farming and winemaking, we strive to bring the acidity and minerality of the site forward, with fruit and oak playing a secondary role. We picked the grapes September 19-20. Fermentation was done 11% in fourteen-gallon glass demijohns; 53% in stainless steel tanks; and 36% in oak. Total new oak was 16%. When the ferment went dry, half of the stainless wine was racked to neutral oak for aging. This is a unique wine with an intense individuality derived from this place, especially the high gravel and sandstone content of the soils. Yet, it’s true to the variety.
596 cs, 15.05% alc, 3.56 pH

2008 Hirsch Vineyards “Family Blend Bohan Dillon” Estate Pinot Noir

In honor of the fifth vintage of the Bohan Dillon, we selected six outstanding barrels from the 2008 vintage to make our first ever Family Blend pinot noir. This is a mailing list only wine that represents a selection of the very best Bohan Dillon barrels from 2008
147 cs, 14.2% alc, 3.52 pH

2008 Hirsch Vineyards “Bohan Dillon” Estate Pinot Noir

From the start, the Bohan Dillon pinot noir has been the apple of our eye. This is an estate pinot noir, primarily from the fruit of our younger vines, and it is intended to be enjoyed young
2,450 cs, 14.3% alc, 3.60 pH

2008 Hirsch Vineyards “M” Estate Pinot Noir

The 2008 “M” is defined by ripe and juicy fruit, uplifted by the signature of the Hirsch wines: a seamless acidity. This wine is a selection of the twenty best barrels from the vintage, which is our top bottling in 2008. A wine that exemplifies farming at the extremities of weather, land and luck.
495cs, 14.6% alc, 3.57 pH