California Old Vine Pinot Noir Vineyards: San Luis Obispo County
“What is special to me about the old vine wines is broader than just the wine in the glass.
It is the context and history of the old vines that are so important.
I’m moved just thinking about all the seasons that the vines have lived through, all the
people who have cared for them, and all the vintages they have offered us fruit.”
Eva Dehlinger, Dehlinger Winery
Hoffman Mountain Ranch - HMR Vineyard
Location: Adelaida District AVA in western hills of Paso Robles
Owner: Adelaida Vineyards & Winery
Initial Planting: 1964
Acres: 34.94 (and 4 acres of Chardonnay)
Scion: Mount Eden or Martini
Producer from this vineyard: Adelaida Vineyards & Winery
The Hoffman Mountain Ranch (HMR) and Winery were developed by Stanley Hoffman MD, a
cardiologist who practiced in Beverly Hills and later in north San Luis Obispo County. He had a
special affection for Pinot Noir and initially intended to grow and sell wine grapes as a business
adjunct to his medical practice. He sought the advice of Jack Foote, the Agricultural Advisor for San
Luis Obispo County, who advised Stanley to plant Pinot Noir. He also traveled to the Napa Valley to
consult with André Tchelistcheff.
23 of the 34 acres are original Pinot Noir vines planted in 1964 with the remaining 11 acres
established in 1999 and 2011 with cuttings from the original vines.The scion material, according to
John Haeger is probably from Mount Eden Vineyards then owned by Martin Ray. That said, current
winemaker, Jeremy Weintraub told me the rootstock and clone are unknown but the leaves and cluster
morphology suggest Martini clone on St. George rootstock.
HMR Estate Pinot Noir vines
What was believed to be .93 acres of Gamay Noir also planted in 1964 has been found by UC Davis
to be Pinot Noir. There was also Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay established at HMR in 1972
but the vines did not survive. Chardonnay was replanted from those original cuttings around 2006.
The Hoffman Mountain Ranch originally consisted of 1,200 acres when the Hoffman’s acquired the
property in 1961. Located at an elevation of 1,600-1,725 feet, the site is 14 miles inland from the
Pacific Ocean and cooler than most vineyards in the Paso Robles area. The chalky, limestone-rich
subsoils present here are ideal for Pinot Noir. The original Pinot Noir vines are south facing on the
lower part of a steep slope, own-rooted and low yielding (less than one ton-per-acre).
In 1973, Dr and Mrs Hoffman left Southern California and moved to Paso Robles to establish a
winery on their property and produce premium estate wines. The original HMR winery is considered
the first modern commercial winery in Paso Robles. That same year, Tchelistcheff joined HMR as a
winemaking consultant and HMR began producing HMR wines, including Pinot Noir. Through
Tchelistcheff’s guidance in the vineyard and winery and the help of Hoffman’s sons, David and
Michael, HMR produced wines that garnered high honors. The winery was at the forefront of modern
winemaking, using stainless steel fermenters and French oak barrels. The cover of 1979 Wines &
Vines magazine featured Andre Tchelistcheff and Stanley Hoffman:
Cover of 1979 Wines and Vines magazine
Financial difficulties led to the Hoffman family losing the Hoffman Mountain Ranch in 1982 to
IntraLeisure Inc. In 1989, HMR was sold to Japanese investors who changed the name to San Luis
Winery, Inc. The HMR vineyard suffered neglect until it was acquired by the Van Steenwyk family in
1994. They had launched Adelaida Vineyards & Winery in 1981 using fruit from nearby vineyards
along Adelaida Road. A string of winemakers followed the purchase and worked to rehabilitate the
The current HMR winemaker is Jeremy Weintraub who has been at the ranch since 2013 and has
provided stability and devotion to the HMR vineyard. One example is that he insisted on farming
organically upon arrival. His reverence for the HMR vineyard is clear, “ I have worked with Pinot in Central Otago, Martinborough and Santa Ynez and the HMR Vineyard stands apart. It has its own
character. I want the Pinot to be making great wine into the next century.”
The HMR Vineyard is the oldest producing Pinot Noir vineyard in the Central Coast. Jeremy told me
that >98% of the original HMR vines are still producing as are the replants taken from the original
cuttings in 1999 and 2011. An HMR Estate Pinot Noir from the original old vine plantings has been
produced since 1996.
Brothers Georges and Daniel Daou of DAOU Vineyards & Winery, owners of nearby mountain
property with mostly Bordeaux varieties planted, purchased the remaining 112 acres of Hoffman
Mountain Ranch in 2012, renamed it Daou Mountain and began a restoration of the old HMR
redwood winery. Adelaida retained the HMR Vineyard.
Stanley Hoffman passed away in 2017. More information about the history of HMR can be gained by
consulting the Wine History Project of San Luis Obispo County at www.winehistoryproject.org.
I recently had the opportunity to review a mini vertical of Adelaida HMR Vineyard Pinot Noir,
2014-2018, all crafted by winemaker Jeremy Weintraub. This was an eye-opening experience and my
deepest respect goes to Jeremy and his crew including long-time vineyard manager Mike Whitener
for preserving this historical vineyard and crafting wines that so beautifully express the uniqueness of
this cherished terroir. With over 98% of the original vines in production, the HMR Estate Vineyard
Pinot Noirs are a very pure expression of old vines and are some of the greatest California Pinot Noirs
being produced in California. To acquire Adelaida Vineyards & Winery HMR Estate Pinot Noir, visit
www.adelaida.com. For me, the wines seem more like Martini clone than Mount Eden clone.
2014 Adelaida HMR Estate Vineyard Adelaida District Paso Robles PInot Noir
Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Bold aromas of black cherry, raspberry and baking spice.
Flavorsome core of broad-flavored Bing cherry and black raspberry fruit with added hints of cola and
licorice. Glossy in the mouth with polite tannins and some finishing pizazz. Nicely balanced, with a
shadow of toasty oak in the backgound, becoming livelier over time in the glass. Superb at age six,
and easily capable of offering another ten years of pleasure.
2015 Adelaida HMR Estate Vineyard Adelaida District Paso Robles Pinot Noir
Moderate garnet color in the glass. The nose is bit reticent, displaying aromas of earth-toned
blackberry, cassis and spice. The velvety mouthfeel seduces immediately as does the noticeable
richness and ripeness the purple and black berry fruits. There is a herbaceous note in the
background. The finish is remarkably long and lavish.
2016 Adelaida HMR Estate Vineyard Adelaida District Paso Robles Pinot Noir
Moderately light garnet color in the glass. embraceable aromas of black cherry, spice cabinet and
brioche. Somewhat earthy and rustic in a good way, accentuating the mid-weight essence of dark
fruits. Very polished, with a juicy vibe and a finish that lingers. This is a wine that shows presence and
interest without pronounced body. Even more delectable the following day when tasted from
previously opened bottle when the fruit came charging to the forefront. Liquid nobility.
2017 Adelaida HMR Estate Vineyard Adelaida District Paso Robles Pinot Noir
garnet color in the glass. A nose you could drink, with hitone
scents of fresh black cherry, cardamom spice and
sous bois. The layers of discreetly concentrated and
delicious black cherry and blackberry fruits are expansive
on the mid palate and finish. A riff of spice adds interest. A
bit of tannin tenacity adds to the buffed and welcoming
texture. This wine really infuses the palate with charm. A
2018 Adelaida HMR Estate Vineyard Adelaida District Paso Robles Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., $60.
Moderate garnet color in the glass. Fetching aromas of black cherry and earthy flora lead off. The
mid-weight flavors of black cherry and boysenberry are striking and exhibit exceptional length in the
mouth and on the finish. Hints of pastry crust, vanilla and baking spice add interest. A sophisticated
wine that is driven by well-integrated, crunchy acidity. The finish seemingly lasts forever and leaves
behind a memorable echo of dark fruited aromatic goodness. When tasted from an open bottle
several hours later, my notes say simply, “Wonderful!"