The Steve Jobs of Wine

Today’s Story: Paul Hobbs Winery

Paul Hobbs Winery was founded in 1991 by Paul Hobbs with his initial release of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Sauvignon from purchased fruit. Paul grew up in upstate New York on a working family farm and orchard, so one could say agriculture was in his blood from an early age. Though Paul helped plant, harvest, and sell crops at nearby farmer’s markets before school each morning, his first foray into wine (if you will) was helping his father achieve his dream of replanting some of the apples, peaches, and nuts in their orchards to wine grapes.

When it came time for Paul to go to college, his father encouraged him to study viticulture and enology but instead Paul followed in his great-grandfather’s footsteps by studying medicine and graduated with a BS in Chemistry from Notre Dame. His father’s persistence paid off, however, and Paul moved to California after graduation and studied viticulture and enology at UC Davis where he received his Master of Science degrees three years later. Fresh off his new degree, Paul was hired by Robert Mondavi for his advanced knowledge of oak aging and he was quickly promoted to the inaugural Opus One winemaking team. Following his experiences at Robert Mondavi and Opus One, Paul joined Simi Winery as their winemaker before beginning consulting roles for Peter Michael, Lewis Cellars, Bodegas Catena, and soon other wineries around the world.

Throughout these experiences with wine, Paul Hobbs crafted a dream of his own to produce vineyard designated wines under his own name. In 1991, Paul spoke with Larry Hyde in Napa and Richard Dinner in Sonoma about purchasing some of their fruit, and the resulting 5 tons of fruit from each vineyard culminated in the first Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Franc of Paul Hobbs Winery. Paul’s dreams entered their next phase in 1998, however, when he purchased his family’s first estate vineyard and established the Katherine Lindsay Estate (named after his great-grandmother) in Sebastopol, CA. The first vintage of this wine came with the 2003 harvest, and today Paul Hobbs consists of seven estate vineyards in some of the preeminent Californian regions for Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Paul Hobbs practices sustainable farming in caring for his vineyards and a minimalist approach in producing his wines. To sustain the integrity of his fruit and each vineyard block, Paul demands a constant flow of communication and knowledge from the vineyards to the cellar. When it comes time for harvest, all Paul Hobbs fruit is hand-harvested using hand sheers to keep the fruit in pristine condition. During the winemaking process, all wine is fermented using only native yeasts that originate in the vineyards and the cellar and the wine is aged in finely grained French oak barrels. With his finished product, Paul bottles the wine unfined and unfiltered in an effort to display the purity of the fruit and the place of each wine with elegance and transparency.

Fun fact: Paul Hobbs is widely known as “the Steve Jobs of wine” thanks to his “ardent exactitude” and immensely high demands for quality.

Today’s Wine: 2015 Katherine Lindsay Estate Pinot Noir

100% Pinot Noir; 14.3% ABV

The 2015 Katherine Lindsay Estate Pinot is pale to medium ruby in color and is moderately transparent. This requires about 30-45 minutes to open up, but once it does the nose showcases aromas of cranberry, cherry, dried strawberry, cola, violet, clay, leather, baking spice, and a hint of oak. Once in the mouth, this Pinot offers notes of black cherry, pomegranate, juicy ripe strawberry, black truffle, forest floor, and black pepper. The wine is medium-bodied with medium (+) acidity, light tannins, and a medium (+) length finish.

Price: $100. This is certainly an upper-echelon RRV Pinot but it needs some extra time in the cellar to fully come together. If you buy some, open some more reasonable Pinot in the $35 sweet spot I’ve mentioned before while this sits a few more years. Pair this with duck, pork loin, roast chicken, or charcuterie.

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