Hidden in the hills of Lake County, CA lives 18 acres of a picturesque naturally wild vineyard of rolling hills that looks on to infinity. What once was overgrown and untamed land inhibited from growth is now a miraculous field of wildlife, greenery and vines.
I had the pleasure of meeting and having a lovely chat with the vineyard manager/partner, Mitch Hawkins, of this fascinating biodynamic vineyard, Hawk and Horse Vineyards. We met at the Plaza Hotel in NYC where he was just getting back from the New York International Wine Competition tasting. With his 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, a gold medalist at the 2011 Tasters Guild International Wine Competition, in hand, he poured me a glass and took me through his remarkable story of getting to where he is today.
Coming from stopping at a few parties way back when with the likes of Santana and the Grateful Dead and bartending in San Francisco to now living on this beautiful vineyard (owned by renowned attorney, David Boies and fam), Mitch and his wife Tracey (Boies’ step-daughter) have created an oasis so special that can only be established with tender loving care, which is what makes his wine SO perfectly balanced and delicious.
The farming is done by hand mainly with the help of their small herd of Scottish Highlander cattle to create natural preparations which omit chemicals. “The cornerstone of our Bio-dynamic program is production of our own vineyard preparations. Cow dung is the key ingredient in our most important applications. This necessitated the addition of cattle to our ranching operation. After careful research, we selected the Scottish Highland breed. The Highland is an ancient breed known to have grazed the rugged Scottish landscape since the sixth century. They are the oldest registered breed of cattle with the first herd book being established in 1884. These striking creatures are highly desirable animals and are noted for their ease in calving, high quality beef and superb hides. They are also known for their gentleness and intelligence as well as their distinctive and beautiful appearance. They add a sense of true loveliness and grace to the landscape” as Mitch describes in an excited and imaginary way.
They take pride in and treasure their old world practices and even take orders personally by offering their phone number on their website where either Mitch or Tracey will greet you hello and take your order. To add to the magic that happens at the ranch, his two lovely daughters Nina and Francesca Hawkins train in their indoor ring to compete in traditional rodeo’s in Northern, CA and beyond.
To end our lovely chat he exclaimed that they also make a stunning Port and I mentioned to him that I love a nice port paired with 80% dark chocolate! He told me to wait right there and went up to his hotel room and brought down a bottle of Latigo, a fortified wine produced in Port style, 2006 vintage. This wine is of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes fortified with varietal high-proof Brandy (he uses the best of the best). How nice and I can’t wait to try it! What a lovely boutique-y type winery that produce bottles filled with extremely special and elegant red wines!!
Be sure to visit their website and purchase a delicious bottle of what they are most known for, Cabernet Sauvignon. You will not be disappointed and will most definitely feel giddy and special when you sip on this wine! Spread the word!