Get the Dirt about Dane Cellars from winemaker Bart Hansen

7 Oct

danepeopleMy career in the wine industry began as a summer job. During that first harvest, my job was to deliver five tons of grapes at a time, down the mountain, in a one-ton truck. It was from that experience that I knew I wanted to be a winemaker. I began my professional career with Kenwood Vineyards in 1986, where we specialized in vineyard-designated Zinfandels and Cabernets grown in Sonoma Valley.

In 1998, I left my position as Cellarmaster for Kenwood and joined the wine-making team at Benziger Family Winery, just down the road in Glen Ellen. My focus was the production of wines for the Benziger Family Ranch including Tribute, Imagery Estate and Benziger vineyard designates, and in particular the Zinfandel wines for Benziger and Imagery Estate. It was at Benziger that I was introduced to biodynamics and organic farming. At the time, both practices were new to the industry and we developed winemaking methods to go along with the farming practices.

I loved the idea of bringing cutting-edge techniques to age-old winemaking processes. With a passion for creating small-lot, distinctive wines, I was thrilled to join the Lasseter Family Vineyards in 2007 and to have the opportunity to create premium vintages of Rhone and Bordeaux-inspired blends from organically-grown grapes.

1. What was your first vintage year? My First vintage was 1986, but I started Dane Cellars in 2007.

2. How many cases do you make per vintage? 300-500

3. Do you have a Tasting Room? No tasting room, but I have started taking some appointments. You can contact me at

4. How did you get your start in the winemaking business? I started with a crush job at Kenwood in 1986.

danevineyards5. What wine made you want to become a winemaker/start your own winery? I would say those first Old Vine Zinfandels I was introduced to when I started at Kenwood. When I began working at Benziger with Mike on the Tribute wines I really got inspired to start my own label.

6. What varietals do you work with? Which varietal/wine is your favorite to make? Why? Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chenin Blanc starting with some more Rhone varieties. I really love working with Zin because it has so many different styles to show itself differently depending on the vineyard site.

7. What vineyards do you source from? Why? With the exception of my Chenin Blanc (sourced from the Clarksburg AVA) all my wines are sourced from Sonoma Valley. I have had the chance to work with some many great vineyards and growers right here where I work and live so there is no reason to drive all over the state.

8. What type of oak treatment do you use? Why? We use primarily French oak, and usually around 1/3 new oak to have a nice balance of fruit and oak.

9. What do you love about your winemaking region? What makes it different special? Well this year will be my 29th harvest in Sonoma Valley and it’s all about the great people we have here, our amazing history of being the birthplace of California winemaking, and have you visited here before? Spend a little time you will understand also.

danebottles10. What’s the story behind your name/label? I was working for the Benzigers when our son Dane was born in 2007. After long discussions we decided that with Teri my wife working in SF and working New York hours that I would quit and be a stay-at-home dad. Of course then I realized that after 20 years of crushing grapes I was really going to miss it. And from there Dane Cellars was started.

11. What’s the one thing you wish someone had told you about the wine business before you started your own winery? I don’t think there is any one thing that I can state there. For me it’s been about learning all the things that don’t have to do with making wine that I have to work the hardest at.

12. We’re curious…do you even get tired of drinking your own wine? I always enjoy drinking and sharing a bottle of my own wine, but we drink a lot of other great wines from all over.

13. Do you still have a day job? Dane is now 7 in second grade, so he still keeps me very busy and I also run the cellar at Lasseter Family Winery in Glen Ellen

To get more information about Dane Cellars, please visit their website or follow them on FACEBOOK and TWITTER.

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