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The Old Vineyard

The story of The Old Vineyard is the story of Hirsch. 

In 1978, David Hirsch purchased a sheep ranch perched atop the remote ridges of the Sonoma Coast. Two years later, he planted his first three acres of vines on a gently sloping field overlooking the Pacific Ocean. 

David was encouraged to plant by his friend and drinking buddy Jim Beauregard, an early viticultural pioneer in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Visiting the property shortly after David purchased it, Jim proclaimed it an ideal site for Pinot Noir, and gifted David with the cuttings for his first vineyard. Those cuttings likely originated from Oregon, and a later analysis revealed them to be a field blend of Pommard (a French clone of Pinot Noir) and W├Ądenswil (a Swiss clone of Pinot Noir).  This planting would later become the source for cuttings to plant many of our other blocks, including Block 8 and much of the East Ridge.  

This original 1980s planting is what we now call The Old Vineyard, and just one acre of it remains. We farm it with painstaking love and attention, coaxing tiny yields from these gnarly old vines buffeted by fog and wind from the Pacific Ocean.

Planted on its own roots, the vines are highly devigorated, and yields are extremely low. Eutypa, a fungal trunk disease, appeared in the vineyard around 2010. Instead of tearing out the vines, new trunks were grown, thereby renewing the above-ground wood, while preserving the old 1980s root structure.  This process has taken upwards of 10 years. 

Old vine with a second trunk.   After the old trunk has been removed.

For many years we sold the fruit from the Old Vineyard to Siduri Winery. In 2012, the contract expired and we kept the grapes at the winery for the first time. The Old Vineyard produced an extraordinary wine that year, and we decided to bottle it on its own. 

We did not feel that the vineyard produced a wine worthy of its own bottling in 2013 or 2014. In 2015, the Old Vineyard gifted us with just one, extraordinary barrel of wine. As is characteristic of that vintage, the 2015 Old Vineyard Pinot Noir is dark, concentrated and structured. 

In 2016, The Old Vineyard yielded a whopping two barrels of wine. The 2016 Old Vineyard may be the finest wine from that vintage. The bright red fruit and complex aromatics are matched with an incredible depth of palate.

The Old Vineyard produces a wine of noble and austere character that is unlike anything else at Hirsch.