SAVE THE FAMILY FARMS CHRONICLES: RAHN ESTATE
Originally Published on Small Matters on AUGUST 28, 2020 as part of a 4 part series.
by Joe Campbell
Part 3: We’re All in This Together
For Hannah and Dylan Rahn, growing grapes is all they have ever known as their father has been working in vineyards since they were very young. Several years later, their father would purchase 20 acres in Angwin, located in the Napa Valley. He designed and planted about 4 and half acres of vineyard, which is now Rahn Estate. Growing up on the estate property, the Rahn children would spend their summers opening grow boxes and checking irrigation—hard work was a way of life, but more so a sense of togetherness and familial bonding.
After completing an enology degree and doing several internships, including one in New Zealand, Hannah Rahn returned to the family operation while also working as a lab manager at myEnologist, a wine analytics lab in Napa. “My dad and brother remain at the helm of vineyard operations and continue to grow ultra-premium Cabernet Sauvignon grapes,” said Rahn. Rahn Estate utilizes different clones and across different soil compositions and microclimates to create wines that are balanced yet complex, avoiding big tannic wines with overpowering oak flavors. Barrel selection is done carefully to complement each vintage.
The vineyard is situated at a high elevation, on Howell Mountain offering more nuanced and concentrated flavors than the valley floor of Napa Valley—the wines typically express a nice balancing act between fruit and tannin. The vineyard was designed over twenty years ago with a fine tune focus on aligning Cabernet Sauvignon rootstocks and clones to specific soil types to maximize flavor profile and extract complexity.
“Mountain vineyards have more diverse soil types and lower water holding capacity which helps concentrate flavors—these vineyards are usually less vigorous which will help mitigate green flavors which can sometimes be a concern for valley floor vineyards,” said Rahn.
For the Rahn family, business is very much a personal endeavor as Hannah will spend most mornings with her father walking their dog, Parker, during which some of the best ideas flourish regarding strategies for creating the best wine brand. This family closeness transcends in how they engage with their customers.
The wine program was initially started in 2008—for five years, the family released their wines, but sadly determined it was not feasible to keep making wines unless there was a low cost, direct to consumer (DTC) channel the family could utilize. Several years went by when the family heard about Save the Family Farms, who are making great strides in changing the county legislation to allow for small producers to host guests and establish a DTC channel in the Napa Valley.
“Consumers want something more like how it was before Napa became the adult Disneyland it is today. They want connections, like meeting the growers—experiences like vineyard tours,” said Rahn. “They are looking for something different than a tasting room with a host or hostess that recites the same script from one consumer to the next. Small family growers are exactly what consumers are looking for today.”
The Rahn family is not rich nor are they looking to build a giant winery— they are regular people– partnering with Save the Family Farms to pass a “Micro-winery Ordinance” in Napa County that will enable an easier pathway for the Rahn family and other small producers and vineyard owners to host guests and have a sensible business path forward for future generations of families.
“There’s room for all types of producers in Napa—tourists are looking for a variety of settings to choose from where they taste wines. Many of them are looking for niche small producers that provide exclusivity without having outrageous bottle prices,” said Rahn.
2012 Cabernet Sauvignon- Estate grown wine with flavors of black cherry, cassis with a slight touch of chocolate. Muscular tannins with bold yet complex flavors at 14.8%, this wine would go great with a nice, juicy filet mignon. Indulge yourself.
2013 Grenache and Mourvedre blend- beautiful aromatics with fresh flavors of strawberries and cherries with a little bit of cocoa touching on the palate. A blend of 50% Grenache/50% Mourvedre—this wine would go great with a braised lamb shoulder.
2013 Petite Sirah- beautiful dark inky purple in color with flavors of black currant as well as plum coming through on this wine with nice tannins to round it out. At 14.6% abv, this wine would complement a roast pork.
For more information on Rahn Estate, please visit: https://www.rahnestate.com/