The Road Less Traveled
Clos de la Meslerie | Vouvray, France
Coming to France to make wine for love is not unusual. Many expatriates dream of making wine in France.
In Peter Hahn’s case, it was a woman’s love that brought him to own a French vineyard.
Having worked in finance in New York, Australia, London, and finally, Paris, Hahn came to realize that his calling was to be outdoors—in nature—not on airplanes and in meeting rooms.
He wanted to make wine, but while working in Paris, he met his wife, Juliette, a native of Normandy. He realized that his wine future was in France, not the United States.
Initially, he was drawn to Languedoc and the prospect of producing red wine.
“Through an odd set of circumstances, I ended up making white wine in Vouvray in the Loire,” says Hahn. “I think it was fate.
“And then I found Chenin Blanc. Now I realize that I’ll be learning about Chenin for the rest of my life. It’s complex, finicky and endlessly surprising.”
Now, he’s practicing organic wine production in Vernou-sur-Brenne, a tiny collection of houses in the eastern part of Vouvray, where he bought Clos de la Meslerie in 2002.
Despite his corporate background, the complications of the business of producing wine have astonished him.
“The biggest surprise for me was that after all of the blood, sweat and tears involved in making the wine, you have to sell it, which, in the beginning with no established client base, is tough,” says Hahn.
He’s already assembling a memory bank of wine production in Vouvray. His first harvest, in 2008, was his strongest.
“To see the results of the tremendous amount of work come to fruition, to see my first barrels filled with juice… I felt like a kid whose dream had come true,” Hahn says.
Asked what his greatest skill is in winemaking, Hahn answers like a true French wine producer.
“It’s the ability not to intervene. To me, the wine is made in the vineyard.”