Visit the gorgeous Hahn Family Wines in the Santa Lucia Highlands near Carmel-by-the-Sea and you may get lucky enough to take an ATV up to one of the highest points overlooking the estate. Trying the spectacular single-vineyard Lucienne wines while perched above the vines is a unique lesson in how climate and terroir influence the fickle Pinot Noir grape.

On our press visit, we had the opportunity to prowl the barrel room and taste samples of the 2014 wines and the recent 2015 vintage. However, even a delicious lunch of Sablefish and pork medallions with even more Pinot Noir and some fantastic Chardonnay does not prepare you to find a set of bagpipes propped on a barrel.

Hahn Pinot Noir in the glass with their signature rooster. Photo by Barbara Barrielle

When asked, jokingly, to play the complicated instrument, winemaker Greg Freeman didn't hesitate to picked them up. Wow. This talented winemaker has also spent time in a rock band and learned to make wine after he found a job as a chemist in Hahn’s lab. What a journey for Freeman and the winery.

Hahn winemaker Greg Freeman plays the bagpipes. Photo by Barbara Barrielle

Hahn winemaker Greg Freeman plays the bagpipes. Photo by Barbara Barrielle

Hahn invested early in the Santa Lucia Highlands and the wines show it. The winery was instrumental in getting the appellation its AVA status and, in fact, has branded a series of small production wines as SLH. These mid-range wines reflect the early morning fog that burns off to clear skies which ripen the grapes over a longer than usual hang time. The wines reflect a ripe and fruity profile and even the winery’s entry-level Hahn wines are well-made quaffers.

The Lucienne Pinot Noir “Doctor’s” vineyard with its blackberry, strawberry and blueberry notes with touches of rose and spice was a standout. The Lucienne Pinot Noir “Lone Oak” Vineyard is more caramelized and baked fruit with smoky and pretty tobacco.  Both wines retail at a reasonable $50 and truly deliver. Hahn also makes a Lucienne “Lone Oak” Chardonnay and Lucienne “Smith Vineyard” and “Hook Vineyard” Pinot Noirs. All sophisticated and elegant special evening wines which are also highly rated by Wine Spectator and other publications.

Tasting the gorgeous single-vineyard Lucienne wines. photo: Barbara Barrielle

Creativity in winemaking, adherence to terroir and climate conditions when planting and a true spirit of camaraderie and joy exudes in this large-but-feels-boutique winery. I visited again with a friend and the tasting room employees were kind, generous and more than knowledgeable. They go the extra mile in every sense. In fact, when my friend bought eight wines and the shipping was a bit more than they quoted her, they added two additional wines to the order. And not the basic ones. The highly-coveted single vineyard Lucienne wines were her compensation!

Visit Hahn Family Wines in the Santa Lucia Highlands and discover the great wines from this unique terroir and climate. Be sure to check out more great things to see and do on the gorgeous Monterey Peninsula and in the charming town of Carmel and experience wines that over deliver and maybe meet a few unique winemakers along the way.

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