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Muir Hanna Vineyards

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John Muir Hanna vineyard SignJohn Muir Hanna Vineyard:
Block JMH:

This vineyard is on our family’s first property in Napa Valley. It was originally a dairy, then planted to prunes in the 1930’s. John and Virginia Hanna purchased the property in 1950 and farmed the prunes until 1969, when they began a two year replanting to vineyard. After numerous consultations with farm advisors, other farmers, and Mike Grgich, they decided to plant Chardonnay. The rootstock was St George and the clone was what is known as “old California” sourced from Stony Hill Vineyard near St. Helena. Bottle Shock, the movie opens August 2008The first crop of this vineyard, 1972, and every successive crop, has gone to Chateau Montelena Winery where Mike was the founding winemaker. This is the only vineyard that was in the 1973 Chateau Montelena that won the 1976 “Paris Tasting” that is still in their blend. We continually modified the trellis system from 1978 until 1990 to improve quality and yield until the vines began losing vigor due to various vine diseases.

We began replanting the vineyard in 1996 and narrowed the spacing from 8’X12’ to 6’X10.5’. We continued using a modified “V” trellis system which we had developed for the old vineyard. The western 4 ¼ acres is a selection of the “old California” clone taken from Swanson Vyds based on its “muskaty” character. The eastern 5 ¼ acres was planted in 2001 and is clone 17 which is derived from a virus free vine from the Robert Young Vineyard, originally from the Wente “old California”. The rootstock is all 110R.

We also planted .1 acre of cabernet franc and .13 acres of petit verdot, both on 110R rootstock, in 2001.

The majority of the chardonnay still goes to Chateau Montelena but we reserve up to six tons to use in our Muir’s Legacy Chardonnay. The cabernet franc and petit verdot are used in our “Reserve Cuvee”. The vines are drip irrigated but only when necessary as we follow “deficit irrigation” practices.

We began using only “Organic Certified” (OMRI) fungicides, fertilizers, and cover crop seeds in 2007. This vineyard was sprayed with an insecticide only once – in 1974. We tolerate low levels of damage by birds and insects as part of a sustainable approach to farming, which means there is a balance of beneficial and destructive organisms.

The vineyard is bordered on the south by riparian habitat which contains some very old valley and live oak trees, buckeyes, and bay laurels. (One is very large and hollow and as a child I spent many hours playing in it.) The east is bordered by a horse farm that was once a prune orchard but is now mostly valley oak savannah. Both provide wonderful raptor nesting areas (hawks) and we have a yearly crop of barn owls in the old “hay barn”.