Return to California 13: Hawk and Horse Vineyards, Lake County

Return to California 13: Hawk and Horse Vineyards, Lake County

Touring Hawk and Horse Vineyards

Together Mitch and Tracey Hawkins run the Hawk and Horse Vineyards, a name given to the wines and vineyard by their daughter. It is an entirely family owned property and business in Lake County, California, with Tracey’s stepfather, David Boies, helping to kick start the project.

100 year old Redwood water tank resting low on the hill side entering the vineyard property. All of the water is fed from natural springs on the mountain.

vineyard at 1800 feet

young French Plum trees (the property has more mature ones throughout as well). French Plum trees attract beneficial moths that help keep undesirable pest populations down throughout the vineyard.

an owl feather on the edge of the vineyard. Hawks hunt ground pests that would eat roots during the day, owls at night. Bird boxes and perches are found throughout the vineyards encouraging birds of various sizes and types to populate the area.

Cabernet was planted on the hillsides in 2000 and 2001, after walking the property and taking soil samples. Vine at 2200 feet. The Cabernet clones they grow–337 and 15–produce tiny clusters with lots of skin, and little juice offering good concentration of flavor. Set this alongside the heat and wind pushing through the area and you get wine that showcases distinct fruit flavors coupled with grounding spice and earthy notes.

Mitch Hawkins operates Hawk and Horse Vineyards as both Demeter Biodynamic Certified, and CCOF Organic Certified. Mitch and Tracey had agreed to start the vineyard as organic from the beginning, but after doing extensive research, Tracey realized she wanted to focus on Biodynamic practices as well. As a result, the vines have been developed as both from inception.

an important aspect of Biodynamic Certification is recognizing the holistic nature of the ranch and farm. As such, the entire facility is certified, not just the vineyard sites. Scottish Highland cattle are recognized as an important element of Biodynamic practices. Hawk and Horse has a beautiful smaller size (as in height) herd that I fell in love with.

the 2007 Red Hills Lake Country Cabernet Sauvignon carries a beautiful rose oil and cocoa nose alongside spice and dark fruit, with a palate that follows. The flavors here are well-integrated and well balanced. Across each of the wines tasted there is a distinctive red dirt-dust scent and light flavor that I find pleasing as well, and have tasted in other Cabernets grown on similar soils.

the red volcanic soil–an ultra fine powder

both award winning Cabernets. The 2008 has a slightly darker, and fuller bodied presentation to the 2007.

the family decided to try a Cabernet Sauvignon dessert wine made with Germain Robin craft brandy for fortification. The wine starts with 26 months in new French oak, with the 2006 arising out of Tracey Hawkins love for Port. The result was exactly what she’d hoped, and after a two year hiatus from the project (to see if the original was worth drinking), they now intend to keep making the wine. I was impressed by how well integrated the various elements of this wine are–the berries stand up to the brandy, the oak complements the alcohol, there is a nice cigar nose, followed by a dried berry palate, and caramel cream texture. The elements here are in harmony with each other.

the property is also home to horses with the family training and riding as avid Rodeo competitors. This year’s colt.

Tracey has spent a lot of time working with the colt to help make him comfortable with people and ready to train. He’s a lovely, friendly horse.

I was able to share the 2007 Cabernet later with my friends Robin and Dierk. We all really loved it.

Thank you to Mitch and Tracey Hawkins for your generosity.

Thank you to Julie Ann Kodmur.

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