Hughes Family Vineyards
Sonoma County region
Exceptional wines that continue to garner prestigious awards
It was simply a case of two successful professional people trying to find a business that they could enjoy together. That rudimentary notion formed the basis for the successful boutique winery that enjoys the name of Hughes Family Vineyards.
Keith and Cherie Hughes first met at Miami University of Ohio. Both later enjoyed extraordinary careers, Keith in the investment business and Cherie as a clinical psychologist in private practice. Her specialty was helping children, adolescents and their families. She also acted as a consultant to schools where she developed a school violence prevention program.
In the year 2000, the Hughes bought a home and property in Sonoma County that included a Zinfandel vineyard that had been neglected for some time. The property was located at the intersection of three separate appellations: Bennett Valley, Sonoma Mountain and Sonoma Valley.
“Our property proved to be an ideal site for growing grapes,” explained Keith Hughes. “All the soils are high in minerals. We also benefit from evening breezes and some fog in the mornings. All of these factors produce a really nice microclimate.”
The property sits at about 850 feet above sea level just above the storied Sonoma town of Glen Ellen. The Hughes acquired an adjacent piece of land and now sit on a vineyard of just over 10 and one-half acres. The property is planted in Syrah and Zinfandel, in a ratio of 70% to 30%.
Hughes Family Vineyards first saw the light of day in 2003 with a release of just over 100 cases of Zinfandel. The production has grown steadily and will exceed the thousand case mark for the current year.
Keith Hughes has a no-nonsense approach to the wine business. He stated simply, “Our goal has always been to stay in a wine quality zone. Sure, we want to be successful, but we really want our customers to enjoy our wines.”
The fact that the entire vineyard operation is organically certified is another definite plus for Hughes Family Vineyards. “We wanted our operation to meet certain standards and by making everything organic, we have fulfilled our goal,” Hughes further clarified.
While the greater proportion of the Hughes Family Vineyards is devoted to red wines, Keith Hughes is enthusiastic about another varietal that is white. “We located an excellent vineyard in the Sonoma Mountain appellation that produces some marvelous Chardonnay. It was an old cow pasture and the yield from the old vines is very lite, but the quality is amazing. We will probably produce around two hundred cases this year and see where it takes us. Since we have made only reds so far, this should be an interesting adventure.”
While the Hughes Estate is not generally open to the public, a number of small events are planned annually. These events allow prospective customers as well as established clientele the opportunity to roam the grounds and enjoy the pleasantries of the Hughes Family Vineyards. The events are limited to between 25 and 30 and occur four or five times a year.
“Well, I must admit I go back and forth on that one,” he stated. “I love and drink both our Syrah and Zinfandel. I probably should be drinking some of our competition’s wines, but I have to be honest and say that I love our wines more.” Hughes also points to winemaker Rolando Herrera for much of his venture’s successes. Herrera’s resume seems like a who’s who of fine wineries. Included are a ten year stint at Stags Leap Wine Cellars (seven years as Cellar Master), assistant winemaker at Château Potelle, winemaker at the prestigious Vine Cliff Winery and another stint as Director of Winemaking for Paul Hobbs Consulting.
Herrera is also the owner of Mi Sueño Winery, a top caliber winery that has garnered more than its share of international accolades and awards.
Also, the vineyards at Hughes Family are under the guidance of Phil Coturri, considered the dean of North Coast organic farming. As such, no synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, fungicides or pesticides are ever employed. Weeds and pests are controlled with integrated cover crops that attract beneficial insects and bring unwanted populations into balance. The result is healthy soils, today and for generations to come. It would seem that Keith and Cherie Hughes have found the ideal pursuit for their energies. They work together and produce truly exceptional wines in a near perfect agricultural environment.
It is our pleasure to present the wines of Hughes Family Vineyards.
Dear Platinum Wine Club Members,
We are delighted to provide you with our 2007 Syrah, made exclusively from the grapes we grow in our certified organic Savannah vineyard. As a single vineyard wine, each bottle tells us the story of the vintage from bud break in the spring (it was late in 2007 after a cool and damp spring), through the long growing season (we had a heat spike and exceptionally warm weather in late July and August), through harvest in the Fall (we had to hurry to hand pick all of the grapes to beat the rains that came back in mid-October).
Our picturesque Savannah Vineyard is situated at the crossroads of three exceptional appellations, Sonoma Valley, Sonoma Mountain, and Bennett Valley. At an elevation of 825 feet, we are blessed with volcanic soils and our microclimate provides the perfect combination of cool morning fog that gives way to long, warm and sunny afternoons. We farm our vines to produce the highest quality fruit with the most intense flavors, focusing solely on quality not quantity. Our winemaker, Rolando Herrerra, oversees the growing of the grapes and then artistically crafts our fine wines with minimal intervention.
As we do with all of our wines, we waited patiently for the 2007 Syrah to reach perfection before making it available. Although we are a bit biased, we think you will find it ranks among the very best Syrahs you have experienced. The Gold Medals and numerous awards are flattering, but the most significant event is what you taste and you feel about our wine. We love it, and hope you will too.
Keith and Cherie Hughes