From Humble Beginnings...
Hagafen Cellars is located in Napa Valley, the heart of California's premier wine country! Owned and operated by Irit and Ernie Weir, the Hagafen brand was founded in 1979 and the first commercially released vintage was harvested in 1980. Since those early days, the enterprise has steadily evolved from a humble partnership into a distinguished and highly regarded boutique wine brand.
Leveraging Ernie's viticultural expertise, the Weir's purchased a few acres of land of Napa's Silverado Trail in 1986. They envisioned this location as an ideal setting for growing Cabernet Sauvignon. Ernie and the Weir family gradually began shaping the entire property into the serene hidden gem that is today. Ernie, affectionately known as Don Ernesto, continues to fulfill the roles of Owner, Vineyard Manager, and Winemaker.
"Fine wine starts in the vineyard with careful vineyard management," says Weir. "I strive to take maximum advantage of the Napa Valley's natural geology and climate to produce the best wine varietals. I interfere as little as possible with the soil, creating a balance that minimizes the chemical and erosion impact by using modern farming techniques while maintaining the age-old wisdom of balance and the traditional values of conservation and land stewardship. Once harvest is completed, I undertake the second part of my job, winemaking. This presents an interesting challenge every time since each year the growing season and harvest are unique and different. I never seek to change what Nature has provided. My goal is to showcase the best that our land has produced."
Hung upon the walls of the winery you can also sneek a peek of some of Irit's unique artwork. Click here to learn more about Irit's artwork.
...To Whitehouse Involvement
Since 1981, Hagafen wines have been served to numerous foreign dignitaries at the U.S. White House on various occasions. With the finest Napa Valley fruit and a passion for high-quality winemaking, the Weir's have produced several varietals over the years that have been served and enjoyed from the Reagan administration onward!
Daniel Shanks, Head Usher at the White House, explains our nation's Capitol residence's philosophy of wine:
"A perfectly aged Cabernet may be great in a glass, but it can't stand up to the intense atmosphere of a White House state dinner. You have to have something with youth and vigor." Shank goes on to note that wine plays an important role in the White House: "A state dinner isn't about food and wine, it's bonding time." he says. "A country or issue is driving it, and the wine has to augment that." Only U.S, wines are served at all events, a policy since the Carter administration, and the wines selected must bring a sence of "presence" when they are paired with food. In fact, Shank's aim is to "showcase where American wines are going, not where they've been."
Dedicated to a Greener Napa Valley...
The Weir family is quick to embrace new and innovative practices. As a sustainable green winery, a respect for the values of conservation are essential! Hagafen Cellars belongs to several environmentally-conscious groups that focus on environmental stewardship, including, Napa Green, California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF), and Bee Friendly Farmers (BFF) just to name a few. For more details, click this link.
At the end of the day, the entire team at Hagafen is dedicated to sustainability. From recycling paper products from the tasting room to hosting composting demonstrations with Napa County officials, Hagafen is as green as can be.
Overcoming Obstacles...all part of the job!
While preserving the natural environment of the Napa Valley is vital to the world-famous wine region's success, there's only so much one can do to protect it from unpredictable acts of Mother Nature. From the occasional earthquake and wildfire, to operating a business during a pandemic, Hagafen has survived it all.
As a California native, Ernie Weir is no stranger to living with the occasional earthquake. However, in 2014, his resilience was tested when the Napa Valley was hit by a 6.0 magnitude earthquake! Between the collapsed buildings and surface road ruptures throughout town, the Weir's counted themselves lucky that that they only sustained minimal damages.
The other more notable challenge the Weir's have faced was the Atlas Peak fire of 2017, in which their property sustained significant damage. The more crucial losses were the cottage on the Southern end of the estate, about 5 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon vines, and over 90% of the red wines from the 2017 harvest! While a tragedy like this would have left many folks feeling like throwing in the towel, Ernie and Irit literally rolled up their sleeves, cleaned up the debris, and began to rebuild their estate.
Fast-forward a few years, and another treacherous wildfire decided to leave a mark on the beloved Napa Valley! While the wildfires of 2020 did not burn the property directly, the persistent lingering smoke from the nearby Glass Fire & Lightning Complex Fire is what impacted the Hagafen Estate the most. As the winemaker, Ernie was forced to make one of the toughest decisions of his career: does he harvest his grapes, knowing that there is a high chance that the wines will suffer from smoke taint? or does he take the loss, refusing to take the risk of producing subpar wines? Thankfully, he made the right decision and did not produce any red wines from the year 2020, protecting the prestigious reputation of Hagafen's award-winning wines.
Taking on the wrath of Mother Nature is a difficult task, coupling it with a global epidemic and forced closures takes the stress of running a business to a whole new level! Rallying their troops, the Weirs and their hospitality team persevered, taking the temporary closures of their business as an opportunity to rethink guest experiences at Hagafen Cellars. Between their website redesign and the upgrades made to their guest experiences offered at the Silverado Trail property, it's safe to say that the Hagafen team made the most out of the pandemic. When asked how Ernie felt about the challenges his business has endured over the past few years, he responded with...
"We are farmers first, and farmers are resilient!"
50 Years and Counting...
And through it all, the story continues. The 2023 Harvest marks the 50th Harvest for Ernie Weir in Napa Valley! A milestone that a very select few have accomplished. Hagafen is proud to have a leader with such great experience, wisdom, and humility at our healm with no signs of slowing down!