Hawk and Horse Vineyards Red Hills Estate Cabernet Sauvignon shows up to the interview with the perfect resume. Beautiful AVA, rock star winemaker, glowing critical reviews. Alright, you’ve got the job already, buddy. Now get in my mouth.
The Featured Wine of Episode 91: Pairs With Hawk and Horse Cabernet and The Soapbox Marathon
It All Starts With The Hawk And Horse Winemaker
Ever heard of Dr. Richard Peterson. Probably not. But you’ve definitely heard of Screaming Eagle and Heidi Barrett. Before Heidi came on board at Hawk and Horse Vineyards, it was her dad, Dr. Peterson who led the first four vintages of Screaming Eagle into cult stardom. That’s not all. Richard also took André Tchelistcheff’s post at Beaulieu Vineyards and helped develop Atlas Peak Vineyards. He also 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”
And Then There’s The Appellation
Second, we have the Red Hills AVA, a little-known (for now) region named for its red volcanic soils. It sits just north of Napa, in Lake County, about ten miles north of Howell Mountain in fact. Here you’ll find some 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.
It all results in a smooth, creamy, raspberry jam & cassis wave, with cocoa, spice, savory bacon fat, and pencil shavings all served up in an understated, balanced style somewhere between New and Old World. It has dusty, fine-grained tannins and can definitely age for another 5+ years. A textbook mountain-grown cabernet.
The Critics Go Wild For Hawk and Horse Cabernet
Gold Medal / 93 Points – Tastings
Gold Medal – New York International Wine Competition Gold Medal – Denver International Wine Competition
CONSULTING : Dr. Richard Peterson
VARIETIES: 97% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Petite Verdot
APPELLATION: Red Hills, Lake County
VINEYARD: 100% Hawk and Horse Estate
SOILS: Cortina (gravel), bale loam (sand), Pleasanton loam (clay)
AGING: 19 months
BARRELS: 80% new French oak
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 very 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. 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.
Yes, There Are Horses
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.
We make the majority of vineyard preparations on-site – compost and manure are vital ingredients. The vineyard is also home to numerous Red-Tail Hawks who help keep rodent populations in check. A visit to Hawk and Horse Vineyards is a step back to the gracious ranching life and family-based hospitality of a bygone era.
While many wineries tout a single winemaker, at Hawk and Horse Vineyards we see things a little differently. It may be almost a cliché, but we genuinely believe that wine is made in the vineyard. We have made decisions from the early days – from planning and planting the vineyard to selecting the finest French oak barrels to complement each vintage – which influences the quality of the wine in your glass. Decisions are made throughout the year – during the growing season, at harvest, crush, as well as the nuances of barrel aging and blending (or as is often the case…shall we blend?) Though all of these decisions are fluid, Mitch has the final say on all vineyard decisions while Tracey has final say on all winemaking decisions.