Hawk & Horse Blog

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“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.

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.

1 cup basmati rice

2 cups water

1 medium shallot, diced

12 button mushrooms, chopped fine

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tbsp olive oil

¼ cup chopped walnuts

Sea Star Sea Salt, pepper, nutmeg


Sautee shallots, mushrooms, and garlic until soft

Add salt, pepper and nutmeg

Add water and rice

Cover and bring to boil

Reduce heat, stir and cook covered until all water is absorbed

Sprinkle with walnuts

Fluff with a fork and serve hot or chilled


Serves four

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:


 On February 18, Mitch and Tracey had the honor of pouring our wine for ASHA (American Saddlebred Horse Association) at their Annual Gala and Youth Conference in Lexington KY as a benefit for youth scholarships. We also participated in their fundraising auction by donating a weekend at Hawk and Horse Vineyards - we look forward to welcoming the winning bidder! Thank you Kentucky - for your warm welcome, beautiful weather and endless hospitality! Please read about our adventures below:

Part Two - those Southern Estates!

The next day we were guests at two of Lexington’s most renowned horse farms. First was Hillcroft Farm, owned and operated by Misdee Wrigley. Upon arriving, Misdee met the group in person and showed us into her beautiful barn and trophy room. She shared with us personal stories about her awards, her life and how she fell in love with KY and the very special property where she designed and developed her operation. This charming, creative woman was the embodiment of Sothern charm. One of the stories she told nearly brought me to tears: one of her earliest experiences with horses was a little black pony that she drove in front of a miniature stage coach as a child.carriage As happens to us all with precious play things of youth, this coach had settled in the fabric of memories for Misdee and she had not seen it since childhood. Just a few years ago, while looking through some advertisements she saw an ad for a miniature coach that reminded her of those early days. Misdee telephoned the seller and eventually bought that coach - the very same one she had driven as a child! This she displays in a special part of her barn along with a collection of carts, buggies and carriages ranging from a coveted 1910 Vanderbilt pony coach to the two very special carts Misdee inherited from her grandparents. (Read more about her purchase of the Vanderbilt coach here: http://www.kentucky.com/2011/11/19/1965974/auction-of-high-class-carriage.html

Misdee also introduced us to her champion American Saddlebred horses. Just beautiful! Learn more at: http://www.hillcroftfarm.net/about.html

Next we went to Clairborne Farm, famed for producing such notable racehorses as Secretariat, Sea Biscuit and Bold Ruler. We were given a walking tour of this historic facility including the breeding barn and the stalls where famous race horses - contemporary and historic - live and have lived. We were shown the resting sites of some of America’s most beloved racing mounts - Nasrullah, Bold Ruler, Secretariat (photo below) and more. 


We were introduced to two champion race horses - now standing stud: Blame and Arch. One begins to dream of blood lines and conformation - imagining what potential purchasers of the $60,000 - $500,000 stud fee are considering when they select a sire. (photo below: Arch)

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Clairborne Farm boasts over 500 horses on site. They range from broodmares to stallions to potential racehorses of tomorrow. In the history of horse racing in the United States, there have been just nine winners of the coveted Triple Crown. Six of the nine winners have come from Clairborne Farm. The farm’s racehorse history goes back to Civil War cavalry veteran, Richard R. Hancock of Virginia’s Ellerslie Farm. It was Richard’s son, Arthur Hancock, who developed Clairborne Farm in Lexington. It is now 100 years old and still owned and operated by the Hancock family - Seth Hancock of the Secretariat movie fame. Trainers told us that Seth Hancock knows the name and blood lines of each of the over 500 horses currently on the farm! Inspiration and dedication like this remind us of the family-owned wineries and vineyards in our own California. That same hands-on dedication translates into our industry and proves that perfection is earned, not inherited.

Hawk and Horse Vineyards