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“Once I tasted the first bottle of wine I ever made, I was smitten.”

Adam Popp

A Popp Notch Winemaker

In many ways, Adam was born for this. He grew up surrounded by some of California’s most renowned vineyards and wineries on the central coast.

After earning his Master’s in Psychology, Adam slowly grew to realize his true path in life was calling him – winemaking.

So, he started experimenting. In his little Huntington Beach apartment, Adam began to make small batches of homemade wine – and where he absolutely fell in love with the art of it.

Mastering Chardonnay

Today, Adam Popp practices classic winemaking techniques  while driving new initiatives such as sustainability  and transparency.

But it’s his love of the barrel that really sets him apart. He is one of the foremost experts in the wine industry on barrel fermentation, barrel aging (understanding oak influence on wine), and Chardonnay.​ Every bottle of Harken is proof that there’s no substitute for his know-how.

Q&A With Adam

  • I actually first started learning about viticulture, or the process of making wine, in high school. Growing up in the California wine valley, it’s pretty standard that high school students learn about their environment in depth like that.

    But it wasn’t until after I got my Master’s in Psychology when I realized I wanted to get back to the roots of my environment. That’s when I went back to school to learn the ins and outs of the winemaking process.

  • In my first internship at a winery, I think I lost about 35 pounds. It was the product of doing the hard work in order to learn the intricacies of winemaking. The days were long, the sun was hot, and we would be moving for over 12 hours a day.

    That all said, it was an incredible experience and it’s what helped me solidify my path in life.

  • I know I’ve said it a million times, but it’s the truth: You really do get the best of both worlds when you use both American and French Oak to ferment and age your wine. You get the more robust flavors with the American Oak, and with the French Oak you get that elegance and spice. You just can’t get the same profile we’re able to create if you ferment them in each Oak separately.

    Using both of them at the same time, you also get a cost savings, which means the people that enjoy Harken get a top quality wine at a price point that feels good.

  • There are a lot of factors to control. Temperature, training, filtration, VA levels – but the thing is, sometimes things just can’t be perfectly controlled. My job as winemaker is to take the things that are uncontrollable and bring them back to a place that still creates that same wine our customers know and love.

    For me, I’ve come to learn that every single day, something will go wrong. When you expect the inevitable, it makes it a lot easier to adapt and overcome the challenges. I’ve heard people say “if you don’t love solving problems, you won’t have an easy time in the winemaking world” and I find this to be extremely true. You have to stay curious in the winemaking process and learn to take things as they come.