(Contributed by Jennifer Schiff) In October the SSU Wine Sense Club put on an extravagant field trip to Hanna Winery in Alexander Valley. Driving up the long and beautifully landscaped driveway, everyone was very impressed with the Spanish style architecture of Hanna Winery and the sweeping views of the valley. Our tasting took place under the large oak tree below the tasting room, and was facilitated by Shelby Lozinto, an intern at Hanna and also our Wine Sense Club president.
About Hanna Winery
Hanna Winery was first started in 1985 by Dr. Elias Hanna. Then Christine Hanna, president and daughter of Dr. Elias Hanna, took over operations of the winery in 1996. At that time, the annual production was less than 10,000 cases per year, but now the winery produces up to 55,000 cases annually and is growing steadily. Out of the 55,000 case production, 35,000 cases are solely Sauvignon Blanc, which has become the signature wine of Hanna. This is primarily because they consistently win best of show medals on this delicious wine with notes of grapefruit, grass, and a refreshing acidity.
Wine Tasting at Hanna
It was only fitting that we started with the 2015 Hanna Sauvignon Blanc from the Russian River Valley. This wine took best in class during the San Francisco Wine Competition and received a double Gold medal during the Sonoma County Harvest Fair.
The second wine presented to the club was the 2014 Hanna Rosé, which was produced in more of a French fashion meaning it was light, crisp, and not very sweet; a dry taste of the wine was emphasized. The Hanna Rosé is almost a 50/50 blend of Pinot Noir and Malbec. The Malbec is produced in Alexander Valley, whereas the Pinot Noir comes from the Russian River Valley. A fun fact about this wine is to achieve the beautiful light pink color, the skins of the grapes are only in contact with the juices for at most 4 hours.
The third wine the club tasted was the 2014 Elias Chardonnay. The Elias brand name is derived from Dr. Hanna’s first name, he is also a renowned heart surgeon. During Dr. Hanna’s career, he was known for having the “Quickest hands in the West.” Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are some of his favorite varietals to grow and consume. This Chardonnay is grown in the Russian River Valley near the Santa Rosa tasting room. It is also barrel fermented in French and Hungarian Oak which gives the wine its smooth texture.
After the Chardonnay the group went on to sample the 2014 Hanna Malbec, which had recently received, the Gold Medal in the San Francisco Chronical. The Malbec came across as the perfect Fall wine as it resembles pumpkin pie spice, “jammy” cranberry sauce and an essence of sage; the perfect complement to any Thanksgiving meal. Overall the wine was very lively on the palate.
The last wine the group experienced was the 2013 Hanna Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. This bold wine was given 94 points by Robert Parker and retails for $62. It is grown in Alexander Valley where the valley has the perfect warm and sunny climate to produce Cabernet Sauvignon.
Big John’s Market, Grape Tasting in the Vineyard & Horse Carriage Ride
During the Wine tasting the Wine Sense Club enjoyed refreshing and delicious sandwiches and goodies from Big Johns Market in Healdsburg. At the end of the tasting Shelby escorted the group into the vineyards where everyone was able to sample a few grapes straight off the vine. In the area, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec were available to taste. The group was astonished with how sweet the grapes actually tasted and were amazed at the transformation they go through to transform into wine.
To continue with the tour of the property, Brett Roland, a local wine tourist guide was kind enough to take the wine club on a horse and carriage ride down to the ponds. To end the tour of the property, Shelby took the group into the cellar room below the tasting room to show off the barrels and tanks.
Hanna Winery – a Truly Magical Place
Enjoying the wines, the education, the beautiful scenery and clear blue sky above, the group was enamored by the wonderful experience. Overall, Hanna Winery had been a great destination to take in the beauty that Alexander Valley has to offer and enjoy some premium wines of Sonoma County.