Keeping our Forever Home
- Hannah Rahn
My love for viticulture and Enology (grape growing and winemaking) started at a young age before my family had our own vineyard. I have fond memories of my dad, Bryan, taking me out into the vineyards with him. He would show me one thing or another, teaching me along the way and it would always end with a race back to the truck. I knew then, that this industry was for me. As I continued to grow up, and my Dad’s dream of being a vineyard owner became a reality when we designed and planted what is now Rahn Estate. I began to realize this would not just be a profession for me, but a passion.
My brother, Dylan, and I had different household chores than most kids. We were sent out to check the irrigation during the summer days and open grow boxes for the vines as needed in the spring. We were taught at a young age that owning a vineyard was hard work. And yet, we did it laughing together, because I think even then, we knew we had something special … a forever home.
Fast forward to today, Dylan and I are young professionals in the wine industry and want to see our dreams come true. We want to share our story and our wines with you - made from the vineyard we walk every way and every day. Land stewardship is something that has been taught to us since we started planting the vineyard and is something we will always continue. You see, for us, this vineyard is not just another set of acres in some corporate spreadsheets. This is where we come from. You can spot us in the vineyard every morning walking Parker our ranch dog.
As we make our morning rounds, we make note of the resident animal friends we see (or their scat ha!) who are also enjoying our home. And they all have names: Carla the Coyote, Foxy Loxy, Gophy the gopher snake and so on. We see hawks, California jays and other various types of birds cohabitating in our vineyard with us. We enjoy mushroom identification and even try our hands at mushroom cultivation. We have resident bees that have made a home here as well, and we walk by and check on them, then watch them as they buzz by. This is what a small family farm is. It’s a farm that is also home, and it’s lived on by people who love so much they name the wild animals living there. We are Napans, we grew up here and graduated high school here.
The starting number of approx. 200 small family farms that have sold in the last 5 years to likely groups of corporations owned by people who will never “walk the land” is scary. They won’t notice or care about bees, birds and mushroom identification. Our home will, like many others, become another “managed asset” with a limited sense of the biodiversity also living there. Saving family farms isn’t just about my family’s dream of a viable wine program. It’s also about making sure that these farms that are the lifeblood of a farming family can stay with the 2nd and 3rd generation people so who lovingly and meticulously farmed it.
Direct to Consumer (DTC) sales made without a middleman will allow a wine program to become viable for generations to come for small family farms. We want to make and sell our wine direct to consumers, from where the grapes are grown without needing a distributor. Distributor programs don’t work as well for small wine producers as they do for larger wineries. We don’t yield enough cases to justify the cuts a distributor would take.
Without building a new winery structure, as currently required, small family farmers don’t have an avenue for direct-to-consumer sales. Under the Micro-Winery ordinance proposed by Save the Family Farms, small wine growers will be able to continue to use existing custom crush facilities for co-production of their wine and also to sell the bottled product on their property directly to consumers. The very limited number of future winery permits in Napa County can go to those “larger name competitors” or it can go to small family farm owners who truly care for the land they own and is our home Napa County.
WWW.SavetheFamilyFarms.com is a group that encompasses the idea that families should be able to make a living off the land they own, farm, and tend to. It will allow us to continue a legacy by establishing a Micro-Winery program that will provide the ability to do tastings and sales on our property. We want a shot at creating a consumer experience we can share from the land we farm with an incredible sense of admiration, and we want to enable this vision for future generations. We don’t want to line our pockets; we want to keep our "forever home"
Author: Hannah Rahn grew up around grape growing while she helped work on the family vineyard, Rahn Estate. Hannah pursued a career in Enology and graduated from California State University, Fresno with a BS in Enology. She now works as a consulting winemaker and lab manager at myEnologist. She and her brother Dylan, who graduated from Fresno State with a BS in Viticulture, both share a dream of making a wine program together from the grapes off of their family home and vineyard.