Story of the white hart;

Hart is an archaic word for deer, compare with modern Dutch “hert”.

Grazing quietly in the forest opening, this majestic creature seems oblivious of its radiance and beauty. With its antlers held high and its thick coat luminous in the morning light, the animal stops briefly among its fellow deer, and sniffs the air.

While his brown companions blend easily into the landscape, he stands out bright, bold and exposed. For the precious moments he is still, he seems to have stepped out of a stranger, more mysterious world.

Far from being just another deer, this is a white hart – an animal both rare and revered. Since time immemorial, the white hart has been a creature surrounded by mystery.

He is white – but not albino – as a result of a rare genetic mutation resulting in a condition called leucism, which changes the animal’s pattern of pigmentation. The parents of a white hart can both be brown – they just need to have the same gene to produce a white calf.

The white hart’s reputation in Arthurian legends, where its appearance was a sign to Arthur and his knights that it was time to embark on a quest – it was considered the one animal that could never be caught so it came to symbolize humanity’s never-ending pursuit of knowledge and the unattainable. Even today, white harts are seen to be lucky charms, and anyone who spots one is said to have a dose of good fortune just around the corner (so, the ‘white hart’ in this picture is indeed ‘photoshopped’).

Marcel van Stuijvenberg, owner of White Hart Wine

You can just pull off California’s State Route 1 or U.S. Route 101 anywhere along the Central Coast mountains and instantly feel ― in your head and in your heart ― the purity of nature.

My search for a Chardonnay vineyard partner brought us to a small certified sustainably farmed vineyard in the Arroyo Seco AVA in Monterey County. This region is known for its cool climate that makes it ideal for producing crisp, clean, and fruity Chardonnay.

My passion for Pinot Noir brought me to another certified sustainably farmed, single vineyard property located on the adjacent rolling east-facing hillsides of the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA. This cool climate location allows for longer “hang time” on the vine for flavor development.

So, the vineyards for White Hart Wine are between Los Padres National Forest and Pinnacles National Park.

There always seems to be both comfort and mystery here. It is an odd combination, but when you feel it you know you’re there. The ‘golden’ hills nearly hypnotize you. The birds sing a little prettier, or swoop with more vengeance. People listen before talking. Here, what you see is what you get.

It is hard to explain it, but I just love this crazy business. Making a good wine and sharing its beauty is like the thrill of catching a glimpse of the rare white hart deer. I guess the two things we can offer, that make White Hart a little different, are experience and personal relationships. Hopefully, the difference shows in our wine.

I have worked about three decades in and around the wine business, pretty much in all facets one can imagine. After some basic education in Maastricht, the Netherlands, I started as ‘stagiaire’ (trainee) in Burgundy. From there I took off exploring the world of wine trade across the globe with a ‘new world wine’ focus. White Hart is my quest. Thanks for sharing!