The Making of Volatus
The Volatus story began with a chance meeting in the late 1990’s. LT Hal Schmitt, a young Navy Fighter Pilot, was out wine tasting in the rugged hills of West Paso Robles. While at Midnight Cellars, he met local winemaker Rich Hartenburger and offered his assistance during the upcoming harvest. Just two weeks later, Rich and Hal processed their first fruit together and forged a deep and lasting friendship. As Hal’s Navy career took him around the world and included twice serving as a TOPGUN instructor, he always spent his down time learning the art of wine from Rich. Whenever in Paso Robles, whether for a weekend or a month, Hal would be elbow-deep in grapes or wine.
After making wine with Rich for over 9 years, Hal enticed his brother Kevin, a recent Fuqua School of Business grad, to work with him to make a wine of their own. The single focus was to create wines of distinction that expressed the personalities and passions of the brothers. Bringing Rich into the mix was second nature. So, with the team in place and an initial purchase of a ton of Syrah grapes, Volatus, Latin for "flight or flying", was born. As a member of one of the world’s most exclusive clubs, TOPGUN, Hal thrives on meeting every challenge with nothing but complete dedication and a perfectionist spirit. It is with this spirit that shares his passion for flying by bringing you Volatus!
Friends of Volatus
Volatus grew out of long-lasting friendships and a passion for wine. Our friends are a major part of Volatus. Please be sure to visit them.