Hawk and Horse Red Hills Estate Petite Sirah

A bottle of 2015 Hawk and Horse Vineyards Red Hills Estate Petit Sirah

You may remember Hawk and Horse, as I espoused the virtues of their Cabernet not long ago. Now, along comes their petite sirah, which is equally worth ranting about.

The featured wine of Episode 94: Pairs with Hawk and Horse Petite Sirah and The Summer Mix (With DJ White Chocolate).

Mostly known for their incredible Lake County Cabernet and a petit verdot-driven red blend, Hawk and Horse hits another one out of the park with their Petite Sirah. How do they get this kind of consistency? Let’s review.

The Hawk and Horse Winemaker, Dr. Amazing

Well, his real name isn’t exactly Dr. Amazing. It’s Dr. Richard Peterson. Heard of him? If you’ve heard of Screaming Eagle and Heidi Barrett, you have. Before Heidi came on board it was Dr. Peterson who led the first four vintages of Screaming Eagle into cult stardom. Then his daughter, Heidi Barrett, took over. That’s not all. Richard also took André Tchelistcheff’s post at Beaulieu Vineyards, helped develop Atlas Peak Vineyards, and he presides over numerous institutions including the American Society for Enology & Viticulture, The Wine Institute, Society of Wine Educators, and American Institute for Wine and Food. Oh, and he wrote an award-winning autobiography, The Winemaker.

Dr. Peterson began his career as a home winemaker in 1948 in Iowa. He received his B.S. degree in Chemical Technology from Iowa State University in 1952, M.S. in Food Technology (1956) from the University of California, Berkeley, and Ph.D. in Agricultural Chemistry from the University of California. Dr. Peterson’s pioneering winemaking and development career began with E & J Gallo Winery in 1956 and has gone on to influence some of California’s best known and loved wine brands, including Beaulieu Vineyard, The Monterey Vineyard, Screaming Eagle, and Atlas Peak.

At Atlas Peak, Dr. Peterson developed 450 acres of vineyard from the virgin, volcanic soil—just one of the reasons that he is so knowledgeable about the high elevations and volcanic soil composites at Hawk and Horse Vineyards. In 1995, Dr. Peterson led a group of investors in purchasing the Folie a Deux Winery in St Helena and remained Chairman there until the winery was sold in 2004. He is now sole proprietor of Richard Grant Wines in Napa, California.

Red Hills and Lake County: The Upcoming AVA

Another heap of the mojo comes from the up-and-coming Red Hills region, named for its red volcanic soils, just north of Napa, in Lake County. Just about 10 miles north of Howell Mountain in fact. Here you’ll find some exceedingly high-quality Cabernet without the “Napa tax”. There’s a good reason why visionaries like Fred Schrader, Stéphane Derenoncourt, and Andy Beckstoffer have been quietly investing in land here. This gem comes from a small 18-acre Demeter Certified Biodynamic® Vineyard perched at 2,200 feet elevation.

The Critics Go Nuts For Hawk and Horse Wines

94 Points, Platinum – Winemaker Challenge International

92 Points – Wine Enthusiast “Intriguing oak spices add special interest to this full-bodied and firmly tannic wine. Light aromas of wood smoke and white pepper are followed by concentrated blackberry and blueberry flavors to yield a big, rounded mouthfeel. Best through 2027.”

Double Gold – SF Chronicle Wine Competition

Production Notes

VARIETY100% Petite Sirah
APPELLATIONRed Hills, Lake County
VINEYARD100% Hawk and Horse Estate
SOILSCortina (gravel), bale loam (sand), Pleasanton loam (clay)
AGING24 months
BARRELS100% new French oak
Two riders on horse survey The Hawk and Horse Vineyards at sunset

About the Hawk and Horse Winery

Hawk and Horse Vineyards was really the dream of owner David Boies. His love of wine and of California’s North Coast wine growing region drove him to seek out a unique property that would support a vineyard of world-class distinction. In 1982, after exhaustive searching, he purchased what was then known as the historic El Roble Grande Ranch in Lower Lake, California. At that time, El Roble Grande was a rather run-down abandoned horse breeding facility situated on 900 acres of wilderness.

David’s vision of perfect growing conditions, such as rich soil, fresh water, and clean air, transcended preconceived notions about county affiliations. David saw the high elevation sites, red volcanic soils, on-site water sources, pristine air, and the rugged natural beauty of this most special place, and realized this was a land of great potential. His vision saw the opportunity to create something unique and authentic from this wildland and that vision has now come to fruition. Mitch and Tracey took over the daily operations of the ranch in 1999 and began to plant the vineyard. The vines were planted in 2001 and the first release, 2004, was met with an International Gold Medal.

Mitch has the final say on all vineyard decisions while Tracey has final say on all winemaking decisions. That said, in this industry, there are many, many people who have been at this much longer than we have and we feel very fortunate to have access to some of the greatest minds in the world of wine. We are thankful to all those who consult with us on a regular basis to make our wine an outstanding expression of each vintage. They range from winemakers to growers and scientists.

And yes, there are horses

It was important to the family that they maintain the original feel of the property. Lake County is still cowboy country and Hawk and Horse Vineyards takes advantage of a local workforce of young men and women – true cowboys and girls – who understand the value of a good day’s work.

The rustic elegance of El Roble Grande has been maintained in the development of Hawk and Horse Vineyards. The tasting room is in a part of the former horse trainer’s residence and is kept as a tack room with antique saddles, tack, and memorabilia from the property’s storied past. The horse pastures now house a handful of American Saddlebred and American Quarter Horses which the family uses to ride the fence line and for play at amateur rodeo events. Some of the pasture lands are also home to Scottish Highlander Cattle which provides the necessary elements of the biodynamic farming used in the growing of Hawk and Horse Vineyards wine.

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