Hello! We are Young Hagen Wines started by Tim & Ali Beranek in 2013
We both grew up in Rice Lake, Wisconsin, a small farm town of 7000 people approximately 100 miles from Minneapolis. I met Ali in 6th grade, she had braces and liked Bob Dylan. We remained close friends throughout high school and, after we graduated in 1995, Ali went off to the University of Minnesota and I stayed in WI for a year to play JC basketball. Two years later, we moved to CA independently – Ali transferred to UC Davis to study English and I moved to San Diego to pursue golf – attending the San Diego Golf Academy (rigorous coursework), then playing professionally on mini-tours for a bit. It didn’t take long to realize how good the guys NOT on TV were and that I’d better get a job. I began working seasonally at country clubs as an Assistant Golf Professional in Palm Springs/ Minneapolis/ San Diego – helping run the business side of a golf operation as well as providing instruction to members.
In 2000, Ali and I decided to take a summer-long backpacking trip to Europe – as friends. As sometimes happens, we drank a lot of beer in Brussels and decided we were attracted to each other. We’ve been together ever since and now have two sons ages 9 and 5 – their middle names are Young and Hagen.
My interest in wine started while working at private golf clubs. Members would throw parties and we’d get to taste the good stuff. One guy often had Chi Chi Rodriguez as a guest and they would hit the range in the morning, hungover, talking about the wines they drank the night before. I began buying and drinking more and more wines starting with Napa and Australian Bordeaux varietals. It didn’t take me long to find pinot noir and I was hooked.
In 2009, I remember coming home from work one night in Minneapolis to tell Ali of my desire to learn to make wine. By this time we were on the mailing lists for a few Berserker favorites and were regularly discovering new small producers. Listening to winemakers discuss their philosophies and personal paths on Grape Radio became a daily occurrence. I enrolled at the U of M to study Chemistry and enrolled in the UC-Davis Winemaking Certificate program. Ali was 100% on board and her company created a job for her in Marin County. Through a Minnesotan friend, I was put in touch with Shane Finley at Kosta Browne and he offered me a harvest internship. We packed up with our two-year-old and moved to Sebastopol in August of 2010.
My first job at KB was to paint a post yellow, but it got better from there. Being on a crew of 14 interns, from all over, with differing levels of experience was incredible and I learned so much very quickly. The internship was extended and I stayed on to help in the business office, returning to the cellar during bottlings and bottling prep time.
I thought I’d stay for a second harvest until the opportunity to become an intern in 2011 at Outpost arose. I knew of the wines they were making and the chance to learn and work with so many different varietals could not be passed up. We had an amazing group, from the owners to the winemaking team. Post-harvest, I was kept on and earned the Cellarmaster job in Spring of 2012 through Spring of 2014.
June of 2014 I took a new job with the same leadership, helping build out a new winery in St. Helena – Mending Wall – and running day-to-day winemaking as the Assistant Winemaker. We are very fortunate to make the Young Hagen wines at this new state-of-the-art facility.
Starting in 2013, Ali and I were able to purchase 2 tons of fruit from Chenoweth Vineyards in Green Valley. In 2014, we began sourcing from Riddle Vineyard in Occidental, and still do. Starting in 2016, we added Chardonnay from the Platt Vineyard and, in 2017, some Anderson Valley pinot.
Stylistically, we go with a light hand in the cellar, using mostly indigenous yeast and bacteria to ferment the wines and then let them rest on the lees until we rack for bottling. Typical elevage is 15 months for pinot and 15-18 for chardonnay. With pinot we often take 5-15% of the fruit and ferment it 100% whole cluster and then use it as a component when making the final blends. New oak hangs in the 18-30% range.
Feel free to PM me with any questions, looking forward to participating in Berserker day!
The wines are available on our website: http://www.younghagen.com and at select restaurants in Sonoma County and San Diego.