The Winemaker: Hunter & Hill
Vann Slatter is a straightforward man who loves wine and the process of winemaking. What began as a hobby in the basement has bloomed to an all-encompassing passion. A self-taught winemaker, Vann is consumed by the challenges and rewards of bringing out the best in his grapes.
The change in seasons and each varietal bring something new to learn about, a fresh task to master. With a lifelong dedication to hard work and consistent results, Slatter has built a reputation for carefully crafted, well-balanced wines.
Hunter Hill now produces three estate wines. How does that affect your approach?
It's fantastic. This appellation is ideally suited to produce outstanding Syrah, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Zinfandel. I am passionate about red wines, and in truth, I make wine to please my own palate. We live on this property and I see the vineyards out the window every morning. I can farm these grapes exactly as I want them cared for, and this fruit will be here every year for me to make wine from. As I get to know the vines better, their results become more predictable and the wines I can produce will always be exceptionally high quality.
Is there a mystery to winemaking?
Anybody can be a winemaker. Here's the formula: get the best, cleanest fruit you can get, put it on the best wood you can afford and hope you don't have to do anything else. If there's a problem with any of those elements and you have to fix it by putting in something that nature didn't, things tend to deteriorate quickly.
Why do you dry farm?
Because the things you hope for as a winemaker don't come from watered grapes. The vines have to be stressed a little bit to produce exceptional fruit. Without water the grapes are smaller and we get less tonnage, but the color and flavor are much more intense.