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Hahn Family Wines Takes New Direction, Aiming Upmarket

November 22, 2013

Known mainly as a producer of accessibly-priced, entry level wines from the Central Coast, Monterey-based Hahn Family Wines is now seeking to reorient its portfolio in a more premium direction. Company president Tony Baldini tells SND that Hahn has been reducing its private label production over the past year and is eliminating some SKUs to streamline its range. The new emphasis is on the winemaker’s upscale estate bottlings, including its Hahn SLH Estate, Smith & Hook and Lucienne tiers, all sourced from the Santa Lucia Highlands.

“We’ll be at about 400,000 cases this year, and we might be about the same next year. But the sales mix is changing dramatically,” Baldini says, noting that the Hahn SLH Estate and Smith & Hook labels are both roughly doubling year-on-year.

Hahn SLH Estate, which includes a Pinot Noir ($35 a 750-ml.) and a Chardonnay ($25), will get a packaging update next year. Its new look will play up its provenance in the Santa Lucia Highlands appellation, where Hahn, Wagner Family’s Mer Soleil and others have been building a reputation for Burgundian varietals. Also sourced from the region—where Hahn holds 650 of its total 1,100 vineyard acres—is the company’s limited-production luxury label, Lucienne, which includes three single-vineyard wines retailing at around $50. Smith & Hook, meanwhile, specializes in Central Coast Cabernet Sauvignon at around $30.

Baldini says those wines, which skew more on-premise, present greater opportunities to have two or three placements per account, with Lucienne and Smith & Hook on the bottle list and Hahn SLH Chardonnay, for example, offered by the glass.

By comparison, the Hahn Winery tier, priced from $14-$18 and including a host of Central Coast varietals and blends, is more off-premise focused. The Hahn Winery range, which will be repacked for 2015, will be shedding some non-core SKUs, such as Syrah, looking ahead.

The changes at Hahn coincide with a generational transfer in the business, as proprietor Nicky Hahn transitions control to his son, Phil. Baldini, a veteran of Constellation, Kendall-Jackson and Don Sebastiani & Sons who joined Hahn in 2011 and became president in January, says the moves are part of a long-term plan to put the company on sound footing for the next generation.

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