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 he shares his passion for flying and wine by bringing you Volatus!

Hal "Bull" Schmitt

A graduate of Notre Dame and a 2-time TOPGUN instructor Hal has a serious demeanor and a wonderful smile behind the tasting room bar. He loves to make wine and he loves to make incredible food that pairs deliciously with Volatus and Midnight Cellars' wines. 


Kevin Schmitt- Quality Control, Sales

Also in the Navy for some time and a graduate of Duke, Kevin has a passion for wine and food just like his older brother. Together they decided to start the Volatus adventure and are able to come together and share their happiness they find in good food, family and awesome wine. Based in Virginia with his growing family, Kevin helps bring this succulent juice to those in need of good wine on the East Side.



Victoria Schmitt- Quality Control, Sales and Marketing

A California girl from the start, Victoria met Hal at Midnight Cellars when he was just starting his new wine label. Unable to resist his charm she fell for his stable personality and similar passion for wine and food. She also introduced him to photography and art which has been incorporated into the lifestyle of Volatus. When they aren't conducting quality control they are photographing the beauty of the Paso Robles wine country, teaching clients photographic techniques, or traveling the county with their wine and photography tours.