Cal Poly alumnus and owner of Hope Family Wines Austin Hope was named the Paso Robles “Wine Person of the Year” on Jan. 18.
“The past recipients of this award are icons in this industry and to be recognized along with them is a bit overwhelming,” Hope wrote in an email to Mustang News. “We have been hard at work trying to propel Paso [Robles] into the best wine region in the world that frankly we don’t really look around much and see what all we are contributing.”
In 1978, the Hope family moved from Bakersfield to Paso Robles. Austin Hope was 8 years old at the time. The Hope Family was one of the first to plant wine grapes in the area.
“My family were one of the pioneering families to start planting wine grapes in 1978 and I grew up in the vineyards hoeing weeds and learning about farming,” Hope wrote.
Hope wrote that his childhood experiences living on the vineyard heavily influenced his passion for the art of winemaking.
“But, growing up in the vines was an unbelievable thing and I feel being rooted in the farming side at such a young age has helped me be a better winemaker today,” Hope wrote. “I started working with my father and uncle in the vines when I was in fourth grade and continued through high school and college. It really helped me understand hard work and ingenuity because we did everything ourselves. I definitely learned respect for people, land and the value of hard work at a young age which I feel has helped shape my career.”
In 1995, Hope pushed for the company’s further involvement in the wine making industry. Hope is currently a board member as a secretary of the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance (PRWCA) and a member of the Board of Directors for the Paso Robles CAB Collective. PRWCA overlooks over 450 wineries, vineyards and businesses.
Currently, the largest struggle that Hope faces is the race to keep up with evolving technology and the unpredictability of the environment.
“Technology is continuing to evolve not only in the vineyard but in the winery also and this is challenge to keep up with. Mother nature is always a factor as it seems no two growing years are the same,” Hope wrote.
Over the past 7 years, Hope has focused heavily on perfecting levels of tannins in his Cabernet selection. The texture of tannins in wine give Cabernet it’s signature “dry” taste.
“We have spent the last 7 years really focused on tannins; trying to make them analytically as high as possible but as supple and not drying in the bottle. We have learned so much and we have finally achieved that with the newest brand Austin Hope Cabernet Sauvignon.”
To Hope, the best thing an aspiring winemaker can do is talk to more experienced winemakers and learn from their mistakes and successes.
“New winemakers have to remember the ones that have been around awhile have made those same mistakes but have learned from them, or they would not still be around,” Hope wrote. “Don’t be to hard headed and take advice from honest, smart, hardworking people that have been around the block a few times. We will all fail at some point but if you don’t learn from it; that is where the problem come from.”
Hope credited his drive and inspiration for his art to his family and genuine curiosity.
“For me, I am driven by so many different things from music, nature, children, my wife and my constant curiosity to explore,” Hope wrote. “But to sum it up in one sentence , I would say I find great joy in creating an honest product for all to enjoy!”