Hawk & Horse Blog

With the approach of the long, hot days of summer, Hawk and Horse Vineyards is seeing the unfolding of life and the hum of plant, animal and insect activity on the ranch and in the vineyard. The vines have been pruned and tied. We are now safe from the threat of hard frost. 

Barrel Compost has been sprayed on the vineyard floor. This is a combination of processed cow dung, basalt powder and eggshells. Barrel Compost - or BC - is beneficial for humus formation and healthy plant growth.

The vineyard is transitioning from bud break to what we call new shoot growth. This is a time of rapid growth of the vines prior to bloom. The vineyard floor is exploding in color - a blanket of green punctuated with crimson and ochre, violet and pastels of every hue.

Surrounding the vineyard is a five acre insectary - a green border planted in beneficial insect attractants - a wildflower mix including yarrow, plantain, crimson clover along with volunteers from the surrounding forest. This is our way of increasing biodiversity, providing an ecological way to control crop destroying insects even when the vine rows are mowed. Hummingbirds, bees and butterflies add to the loveliness of the wildflowers. This beautiful green expanse extends up to the surrounding forest providing a transition from vineyard to wilderness.



 Guest Blogger: Autumn Turley

“Come for a great meal, leave with an unforgettable experience.”

This is how the evening was advertised– and it is just how we felt when we left.

Last Saturday my mother, Tracey Hawkins, founding partner at Hawk and Horse Vineyards, drove down from Lower Lake to San Francisco where we attended a dinner with The Stag Dining Group. The Stags host clandestine dinners at various locations around the Bay Area. This dinner was hosted in partnership with The Bold Italic, a publication based out of San Francisco highlighting urban living and city culture. The theme of the evening’s dinner was “Microhood By Design” and was a bringing together of people from the Hayes Valley neighborhood – and beyond - to meet and gather and share – food, wine and experiences. (Full disclosure: I do not drink alcohol – I know, odd for the daughter of a vintner - so mom will chime in on the cocktail and wine pairings.)

The event featured local chefs Jordan Grosser and Ted Fleury, a wine selection from, Two Mile, a winery based out of Oakland, and guest speakers Douglas Burnham of the Envelope A+D Architecture Firm and interior designer Kelly Malone.

The dinner was hosted at the headquarters of The Bold Italic. Kelly Malone has converted the space into a two-story art gallery, gathering place and office. The space was eclectic, fun and open. It featured creative work and designs by local artists including live plants nailed to the walls, stools made out of recycled wood that Malone created herself using a chainsaw, and chairs that looked like they came out of a movie theatre. Alongside Kelly’s work was an installation by Douglas Burnham highlighting an architecture project he is working on called The Proxy Project. We got to see blueprints for plans to convert the Hayes Valley Green into a space for commerce, dining, art, gardening and other community-based uses.

The evening began with casual cocktails by Cocktail Lab – an exotic rum punch, delicious!!!. We had the opportunity to wander around the space, meet new people, check out the original eclectic urban art and the recently designed space, and browse through the latest publication by The Bold Italic. After cocktails, everyone was called to be seated in two rows of long tables, seating somewhere between 80 – 100 people – a large crowd yet a most intimate experience! My mom and I ended up sitting across from each other, she next to an Ob/Gyn doctor and I next to a graphic artist who had come with a small group of other women. An evening of lively and enriching conversation punctuated by introductions to our food courses, wine pairings and speakers ensued.

Once everyone was seated, the first course was served – a small salad featuring fresh greens, vegetables and goat cheese. My mom and I agreed that it was the best goat cheese we had ever tasted. The salad was paired with our first wine of the evening: Two Mile Dry Riesling. The wine was bright, crisp and clean with acidity and a slight citrus note which complemented the sweet oiliness of the cheese and light dressing of the salad beautifully.

The second course was “Green Gazpacho” with fresh bits of shrimp and clams highlighted by citrus undertones. Paired with Two Mile 2007 Central Coast Viognier, this course was refreshing and nourishing after the hot day – and a perfect transition from the salad to the next course - miso glazed duck breast.

This third course featured tender slices of miso glazed duck breast garnished with beautiful dark purple carrots, black trumpet mushrooms, and fava beans on top of a pureed carrot sauce. The textures of the different foods complemented each other well, as did the natural sweetness of the carrots with the mild saltiness of the duck. Two Mile 2007 Sangiovese Grosso, with earthy, mushroom notes, played off the richness of the duck, making an intriguing play of flavors and textures.

The main course was roasted pork belly with amaranth and asparagus. Again, the textures of all the foods were a beautiful combination; the rich tenderness of the pork with the graininess of the amaranth and the asparagus cooked to just the right consistency – not too crunchy or too squishy. Paired with Two Mile 2008 Founders Rock Red Blend – hearty yet balanced with notes of cocoa, deep black cherry and white pepper spice – this course was indeed a crescendo to the meal!

Desert was yuzu curd with fresh strawberries, sorbet, and a sprig of tarragon. The presentation was quite artful. I really like the idea of pairing dessert with fresh herbs. Served with the final wine of the evening, Two Mile NV Blanc de Noirs, the dessert was light, spritely and revitalizing.

The food was gorgeous; the environment was thought-provoking, and the people very warm and friendly. I enjoyed being in a new environment and seeing elements of San Francisco that I had never experienced before.

Mom and I both agree that The Bold Italic and Stag Dining Group’s emphasis on aesthetics won the night. “We know if something looks good you’ll feel good about it, so everything we present together is as much of a feast for your eyes as it is on your tongue.” Indeed!

Watch for the next in their series of Microhood Dinner – visit: www.dinestag.com

Autumn Turley is a musician, violin instructor, poet and, massage therapist who is currently living in San Francisco. She has been writing poetry for seven years, and hosts creative writing workshops around the Bay Area. Her first book, Ashes, was published in 2009. Autumn is currently working on a recording project called Of Dust And Dreams that combines poetry with experimental music. Her primary focus is putting energy into projects that combine sustainable living, multimedia arts, holistic health, and spirituality.

Autumn's writing can be found at creme-brulee.deviantart.com.

Red-Tailed Hawks in the Vineyard

Our friends, the Red Tailed Hawks, have begun nesting in our high elevation vineyard.

Beginning on around April 1st, one to five eggs will be laid in each nest. Nestlings will emerge around May first. For more on our Red Tails read on… 

Owl (640x427)Buteo jamaicans: At Hawk and Horse Vineyards, these majestic raptors are respected co-inhabitants working to keep rodent populations in check. They feed on gophers, squirrels, reptiles, birds and fish along with insects and their larvae. They are also willing to feed on carrion. They can be found perched high in trees and also appreciate the tall hawk perches we have placed in the vineyard from which they can easily spot and hunt their pray. These skilled hunters can pursue their prey into the surrounding forest and brush if necessary.

Red Tailed Hawks build their nests of sticks and bark in the tops of trees or, less commonly, on cliffs or outcroppings. Owls compete with the red-tails for nest sites. Sadly, each species is known to feed on the young of the other in order to take the nest site. We provide owl boxes in the vineyard as well - owls hunt at night, hawks hunt by day.

Red Tailed hawks mate for life - and they will often return to the same nest for many consecutive years - replacing the lining with fresh bark and pine needles to keep it clean.

Around the first week of April one to five eggs are laid in the nest. Both parents help to incubate the eggs. Males may bring food to the female while on the nest. After about thirty days, the young hatch at intervals of 1 to 2 days. Initially, parents tear food up for them, but gradually leave it whole in the nest. At around 45 days after hatching, the young become capable of flight - or are fledged. They then begin to hunt on their own - and so the cycle begins.

Glenn use for Blog


“We are delighted to add Hawk and Horse Vineyards’ wines to our portfolio,” said Glenn Albright, Owner of International Spirits & Wine, in making the announcement. “With the enormous interest in biodynamics, we are honored to represent one of its most distinguished practitioners,” he added.

“We’re thrilled to have our wines become part of International Spirits & Wines’ book,” said Mitch & Tracey Hawkins, partners/proprietors, Hawk and Horse Vineyards. “Working with a relatively small, privately owned distributor with such a great rapport with the New York market is the perfect match for a small producer like Hawk and Horse Vineyards. In addition, Glenn and his team have great energy and enthusiasm in today’s busy world,” Mitch added.

People have been asking us about wild or “natural” yeast….here’s how we answer:

Over the years this subject is brought up and answered - and then, it resurfaces again. We have had many conversations with our consulting winemaker, Dick Peterson, and others on this topic. Here are some salient points I would like to share:

There's no such thing as man-made, or chemical, or foreign or non-biodynamic yeast.

Over hundreds of years, winemakers worldwide have carefully selected yeast strains from nature that always produce the best wine and always without spoilage. One could almost think of these strains as heirloom.

All the other strains in nature have failed to ferment smoothly all the way to completion without allowing wild bacteria to take over the fermentation and produce spoilage. This is why you will find an inordinate number of “natural yeast fermented” wines which have off flavors and spoilage.

The yeasts we use from stored reservoirs in yeast 'reproduction factories' are simply "selected natural yeast strains" that can be relied upon to work well for the purposes of optimum winemaking. Bear in mind that the wild yeasts which are floating around in the air at any given time are the natural yeasts that have been borne by whatever rotting fruit is nearby at the time. Yeast is a spore. It travels on the air. 

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Thus, if you have a winery and vineyard which is centered in a region of France or Napa which has been using propagated yeast strains for decades the “natural” yeasts in the air will be primarily the exact same strains the guys next door added to their must. However, if you are near a fruit orchard, near a land waste disposal or an effluent treatment facility, guess what? The “natural” yeast which populates your fermenting wine is the same yeast which is in that nearby rotting fruit, garbage or effluent! It is romantic to think of all things being “natural” in winemaking. Let’s just be clear about what that means.

One final point - when a Biodynamic or “organic” wine is “stuck” during fermentation, the addition of yeast is then permitted. So, in truth, a wine labeled Biodynamic Wine may have had yeast additions - after a stuck fermentation which can lead to the growth of spoilage bacteria and off flavors. The addition of some form of food for the added yeast - sugar - is also needed at that point to restart fermentation. Using a proven yeast strain from nature - right from the start - ensures a clean, unspoiled fermentation virtually every time without the need for additional manipulation.

If you’re interested in reading more, here’s a recent discussion:


Hawk and Horse Vineyards