Hope Family Wines works with some of the best vineyards and viticulturists on California’s Central Coast, which stretches from Santa Barbara to Monterey. Paso Robles sits right in the heart of the region and includes some of the premier vineyards in the country. Over the years, Hope Family Wines has built long-term relationships with the people whose grapes fill the bottles, especially with the Liberty School and Treana brands. Many of these are special family-to-family friendships in a business that is too often corporate and anonymous. Winemaker Jason Diefenderfer and Grower Relations Manager Kristen Lane work with nearly 50 vineyards in an average year. Kristen spends as much time as she can in the vineyards in order to help make the fruit better and track the vine's progress, with Jason coming out time to time to look, feel and taste.. The collaboration stretches throughout the year, from winter pruning to the fall harvest.
"These are mature vineyards," says Jason, "and experienced winegrowers who know their business - we aren't here to train them." The reason for all the attention is to be a successful team – matching vineyard practices with each wine’s style. One key focus is careful limitation of crop yields to ensure concentrated flavors; another is spotting trends in the vineyards early - too much vegetation, too little water, pest and disease issues - and reacting swiftly to make corrections. Vineyards are tracked year to year to ensure the winemakers and vineyard mangers are learning from their practices and the vineyard.
Hope Family Wines’ outreach to its growers includes a commitment to encouraging sustainable winegrowing practices—techniques that promote vine health, raise wine quality, and ensure that growers can remain profitable over the long run. Spraying is only done when it’s needed, not on a calendar, and never after August first; the number of tractor passes through the vineyards is kept to a minimum, saving money and keeping the soil from getting compacted. Hope Family Wines works actively with the Central Coast Vineyard Team to promote best practices and utilizes the self-assessment tools put together by the Wine Institute and the California Association of Winegrape Growers (a workbook called the Code of Sustainable Winegrowing Practices) to gauge progress and identify areas for improvement over time. The estate vineyard, Hope Family Vineyard, has been certified sustainable SIP (sustainability in practice) since 2009.