Hawk & Horse Blog

Just two hours from San Francisco - but a world apart!

There is so much to tell about the lifestyle in Lake County. To give you a taste of the culture I'll share this little vignette:

Central Park Middletown, CA. There is no baseball diamond, no soccer field. In Middletown, Central Park is a rodeo arena where most weekends in the summer you will find a rodeo or folks practicing horsemanship for the next rodeo to come.

One of the largest in the County is "Middletown Days," a three-day event with a rodeo, a carnival, a parade and a Rodeo Queen contest.

On Sunday, we were all watching as one of our top local riders - a young lady who happened to be crowned Rodeo Queen - competed in the Barrel Race. The teen girl and her horse executed a perfect pattern with a winning time - a beautiful and exciting thing to witness. The horse and rider race through a clover-leaf pattern of three barrels and then race home to the finish line. A race against the clock - sometimes referred to as "turn and burn!" As this young rider came off the third barrel she put her head down, held her hand forward with a loose rein as the horse pounded down the area toward the finish line (where an automatic timing light is waiting) The footfall of a powerful barrel horse is a stirring drumbeat as it pounds toward home! At the end of this exciting race, the rider must turn her horse in an arc to avoid hitting the fence as she slows her horse to a halt. In this instance, the horse's feet slid out from under her and she fell into the arc - onto her rider.

Fortunately, the arena dirt is carefully maintained as a thick fluffy sand which pads the rider in case of just this sort of accident. The real danger for a rider in a situation like this is if her horse gets up and spooks and takes off while the rider is on the ground with a foot still in the stirrup. As I watched this young rider last Sunday come into the arc time seemed to slow as the horse slid and landed on the rider - then got up with the rider's foot still in the stirrup.Just as quickly, the horse looked back at her rider, who was beginning to dangle with her foot and leg up, the rest of her body on the ground. It was obvious to everyone watching that the girl was in grave danger of being dragged by her foot should her horse spook! But it was soon just as obvious what real love can exist between horse and rider - and the intelligence of a well-bred, well trained horse. As soon as the horse realized her rider was hung up, the horse, ever so gently and with deliberation, slowly collapsed back down to the ground so that her rider could release her foot. Once she did, the horse gently rose and nosed her rider. As the young girl stood, dusting off the arena dirt, the crowd cheered - for both horse and rider! This girl competed in all of the rest of the events of the day with a knee brace - and won her division!

I recently shared this story with a friend. We both cried tears of emotion, realizing the depth of mutual love and caring we can have with our equine friends who are also our athletic partners - and realizing, as mothers of equestrians, the level of trust we give these kind and powerful creatures with our children! Blessings on the Horse! Blessings on the girl who trained it with care and compassion.

On June 21st, 2013 owners, Mitch and Tracey Hawkins, were delighted to be featured on iWineRadio. Radio show host, Lynn Chamberlain, was intrigued by the biodynamic practices that Hawk and Horse Vineyards engage in year round. Tracey explained the history of the property and their decision to have a biodynamic vineyard, while Mitch elaborated on what contributes to the fruit complexity. This fun, yet very informative interview is a must hear!

Listen to the interview now!

Written by Gabe Sasso

Hawk and Horse Vineyards was founded close to 15 years ago. It remains what it started as, a family owned and run winery specializing in a couple of small lot wines. I’ve become familiar with (and fond of) their releases over the last couple of vintages. So I was looking forward to tasting their newest Cabernet Sauvignon.

The Hawk and Horse Vineyards 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon is an estate wine. All of the fruit comes from the winery’s property in the Red Hills AVA of Lake County. They farm their 18 acre mountain property utilizing Biodynamic and Organic methods. The 2009 vintage is a 100% varietal wine. After fermentation this wine was aged over 23 months in entirely new French oak. 1,350 cases were produced and it has a suggested retail price of $65.00.

Rose petals, cherries and wisps of cinnamon all emerge with conviction from the nose of this 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon. Red fruits are prominent through the palate with black fruit characteristics playing a supporting role. Black pepper and hints of Bay are present as well. The finish is long and sustained with elements of Rhubarb, sour cherry, dusty chocolate and earth all in play. The well integrated tannins and solid acidity provide great structure and backbone for this offering. This wine works extremely well with hearty cuisine.

This is another solid entry from the folks at Hawk and Horse Vineyards. One vintage after another they’re shepherding their property so they can use it to craft well made releases such as this. While this Cabernet is delicious now I do believe it will benefit from a couple more years of bottle age. If you’re drinking it now, I’d recommend decanting it for a few hours. However if you can wait, lay it down for 2-3 years and reap the rewards of patience.


I’m not a foodie or a gourmand, but I have always loved to eat. I recently read a New York Times book review by David Kamp of a book entitled Salt Sugar Fat by Michael Moss. The review shares the book's author's view that many foods eaten by the masses in America are just plain bad for you due to too much salt, sugar and fat. The salt, sugar and fat have been added to make you hooked on the foods in question. While that may be a sinister truth of the packaged, processed foods market, I will admit to you here and now that I unashamedly love salt, sugar and fat! And, what's more, I think they are good for me. But I also agree with the author of Salt Sugar Fat - that disguising bad foods with highly processed and seductive additives, does make you delight in and crave them. Indeed, salt, sugar and fat have an addictive and unhealthy aspect.

I have always been health conscious. Influenced by a number of factors, from my Sicilian grandmother Frances' gardening and home cooking - to the health-food awakening of the small town America of my childhood in the '70s. I feel I have always made rather deliberate choices about my diet. That's not to say that I don’t eat processed foods - I do from time to time - and enjoy it! But I never feel good afterward and I know there are better choices which bring as much pleasure without the pain.

A number of years ago I was diagnosed with celiac disease (I refuse to capitalize that). This, as you may know, is an inability to digest gluten, the protein in wheat. So, I stopped eating wheat and any food with wheat in it. People often ask me if it is hard. The answer is, honestly, no - not at all. And here's my trick: I eat foods with a single ingredient: apple, eggs, rice, fig, almond, olive, sea salt, dates, cheese...salt, sugar, fat! Wait a minute! Didn't that guy say that salt, sugar, fat are bad for you? You'll have to read the book to find out exactly what he is getting at - but the message really seems to me to be a good one: refined salt, sugar and fats added to processed foods are not good for you.

So, how do I eat salt, sugar and fat and stay healthy? Simple - I eat those items in as close to their natural state as possible. Salt: Sea salt (Sea Star Sea Salt is a great brand). Sugar: Honey, maple syrup and molasses as sweeteners (molasses is for certain a processed item - but I include it in my diet because it is also a concentrated source of trace minerals and vitamins - and I use it sparingly - as a flavoring, not a sweetener per se). Fat: Cold pressed olive oil and fresh unsalted butter. I also make simple baked goods with a lot of nutrition blended in. Some basic additions to cookies and muffins, for example, are fresh-ground flax seeds, grated carrots, ginger, sunflower seeds.

I also add chocolate chips! Guittard bittersweet is my favorite. But I use a fraction of what is suggested in most recipes. Would I be healthier without them? Maybe. But life is too short to do without!

Here are a few of my favorite salty, fatty and sugary indulgences: fresh-poped pop-corn with organic butter and sea salt: I use a hot air popper so that the butter is pure flavoring. I melt the butter along with a bit of olive oil so that it covers more of the popcorn and gives a bit more complex flavor. Then I sprinkle with sea salt. Yum!

Chocolate-chip cookies: I don't use a recipe and I don't usually measure, but here is an approximation of what I do: one cube sweet, unsalted butter, one tablespoon molasses,1/4 cup honey, three tablespoons vanilla extract. Blend together to form a thick base. Blend in one egg. Add equal parts fresh-ground golden flax seeds and white rice flour (about half cup each), 1/2 teaspoon baking soda. One pinch sea salt. Blend until a nice cookie dough is formed. Blend in 1/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips. For crisp cookies use less flour/flax mixture. For more cake-like cookies, use more. Bake on a cookie sheet lined with unbleached parchment paper in 350 degree oven for a few minutes (I don't time things either - sorry! I just instinctively know when they're done. Check in five minutes).

By Gregory Dal Piaz

The Best of Both Worlds2

If port is sometimes too much for you, but the dried fruit of late harvest wines leaves you flat, consider something like this off-the-wall fortified wine from Hawk and Horse Vineyards. Lake County Cabernet fortified with grape spirits to only 16% alcohol, this is a dynamite bottle of wine. Not inexpensive, but damn is it good!

2006 Hawk and Horse Vineyards Latigo Dessert wine, Red Hills lake Co. CA 16% $45 Made with Cabernet Sauvignon

This is lovely, intense and rich on the nose, with notes of burnt sugar, dried herbs, wood spice, vanilla and date and dried plum fruit. Sweet on entry but not terribly heavy, this is open and broad on the palate and filled with red fruit. Strawberry, cherry and a touch of plum glide across the palate topped with gentle wood spice and toasted marshmallow notes. Lots of vanilla drives the wine through the long, red fruited, plum and caramel laden finish. Dangerously easy to drink and so well integrated. This is very aromatic on the finish, with licorice and strawberry popping out with air. I like! 92pts  Read more...

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