Monday, July 28, 2014

7/28 Mitch and Tracey Hawkins, Hawk and Horse Vineyards

Mitch and Tracey Hawkins - Owners, Hawk and Horse Vineyards

Welcome to Hawk and Horse Vineyards. We are a small family-owned and operated ranch and vineyard estate located in the Red Hills AVA of Northern California. We take great pride in our farming practices which incorporate both organic and biodynamic methods. Additionally we are DEMETER BIODYNAMIC and CCOF Organic certified. Our wines are hand crafted in very small lots.

Mitch Hawkins
Mitch Hawkins was born on October 1, 1960 in Oakley, California. He grew up in a ranching family in California’s Delta region where his grandfather raised cattle and kept horses. As a boy, Mitch began working alongside his grandfather and learned about ranching and caring for the land.

After a successful bartending career in San Francisco’s East Bay, Mitch attended U.C. Berkeley where he completed a certificate program in Alcohol and Drug Abuse Studies. He was the director of Duffy’s, a substance abuse rehab clinic in Calistoga, for five years. When he met Tracey, his future wife, in 1998, Mitch had returned to his ranching roots and was running a Hanoverian horse ranch in Knights Valley. Tracey had just begun to manage the El Roble Grande Ranch property for her family. In 1999 Mitch and Tracey took over the daily operations of the ranch and began to plan the vineyard.

Mitch has studied wine grape growing extensively and is now an authority on Organic and Biodynamic wine grape farming. One of the things Mitch appreciates about biodynamic farming is the camaraderie of the biodynamic wine growing community. Mitch and Tracey are charter members of “Kids’ Table,” a Napa Valley-based biodynamic think-tank. Several prestigious Napa Valley wineries come to Hawk & Horse Vineyards for the ‘raw ingredients’ needed for biodynamic protocols – compliments of a small herd of Scottish Highlander cattle that Mitch and Tracey keep on the ranch. Mitch and Tracey also take pride in mentoring local youth in ranching, farming and vineyard and winery management.

Along with spending time with his family, Mitch enjoys ranching, farming, grilling and horseback riding on his dark bay Quarterhorse mare, Sandy Spark. He can most often be found in the vineyard where Red-tailed hawks scream their territorial cries.

Tracey Hawkins
Tracey was born in Fullerton, California on July 22nd, 1964. She grew up in Sonoma County, California, where, from a young age, she helped in the family's restaurant. Growing up in California's wine country, wine was a natural part of life. When the family purchased the 1,300 acre Lower Lake property which is now home to Hawk and Horse Vineyards, Tracey immediately resonated with the land and its rugged beauty.

Regular visits evolved and she and Mitch eventually began running the ranch and developing Hawk and Horse Vineyards with the support of their family. Tracey and Mitch work closely together in all aspects of wine production, from farming and harvest decisions to winemaking and cooperage. Tracey serves as Executive Winemaker, liaising with the winery's Consulting Winemakers and is involved in all the substantive winemaking decisions. She has had the opportunity to work with and be mentored by some of the finest winemakers in the industry.

Before starting Hawk and Horse Vineyards, Tracey worked in the wine industry for six years in sales and marketing. Tracey holds a degree in Creative Writing, summa cum laude, from San Francisco State University. She has also studied wine making through U.C. Davis and wine marketing at Sonoma State University.

In her spare time, Tracey enjoys spending time with her children, cooking, and writing poetry. She also competes in amateur rodeo and gymkhana events. Mitch and Tracey have three children whom they raise in close relationship to the land and the business they so love.

www.hawkandhorsevineyards.com

Monday, July 21, 2014

7/21 STEPHEN PEPE, CLOS PEPE VINEYARDS, LARRY VAN AALST

STEPHEN PEPE – OWNER, CLOS PEPE VINEYARDS LLC

Clos Pepe Vineyard was purchased by Steve and Cathy Pepe in 1994 as a horse ranch, and established the 9th vineyard in what would become the Sta. Rita Hills AVA. Specializing in cool-climate, small production, craft-based Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, Clos Pepe is now recognized as a leader in local and national wine culture, wine education and providing fruit to some of the best winemakers in California.

The Italians say, ‘Il vino e' la Poesia della Terra.’  Wine is the poetry of the earth.  There is nothing that can obfuscate Pinot Noir’s ability to speak of a time and place.  Of every plant on earth, Pinot Noir is unique in its ability to show every angle of a vintage, every silt particle in the soil, and every drop of morning dew that wet its leaves. Tea, coffee, white truffles—these can tell a story and confound us with their deliciousness, but the uncontested Queen of Natural Complexity must be Pinot Noir. We anticipate each vintage with a proper mix of anxiety and hope, knowing Mother Nature and the Sta. Rita Hills have a plan that will allow time and effort to fill a glass.

CLOSPEPE.COM



LARRY VAN AALST - SOMMELIER / RADIO SHOW HOST

Host (The Sonoma Report), CRN Digital Talk Radio, Santa Rosa, CA
The Equus Restaurant wine list was judged "Best of Show" in the 1995 and 1998 Sonoma County Harvest Fair. The gallery of Sonoma County wines, nearly 300 bottles hand-picked by their winemakers, sets the tone--wine country splendor in a classic setting. Larry Van Aalst, Equus Sommelier, has been selecting wines for Equus for over a decade. Larry has been judging at the Cloverdale Citrus Fair/San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition for over a decade likewise, an opportunity for Larry to keep abreast of fine wines from California.

Monday, July 14, 2014

7/14 DAMIAN PARKER, JOSEPH PHELPS VINEYARDS, GARY PISONI, PISONI VINEYARDS

DAMIAN PARKER - DIRECTOR OF WINEMAKING JOSEPH PHELPS VINEYARDS

BIO:                                                                                                Born in Bismarck, ND, Damian moved around a lot in his youth, while his father was assigned to various hydroelectric projects with the Army Corps of Engineers. Damian grew up in Healdsburg and attended Santa Rosa Junior College. In 1977, he went to work for Souverain Winery in Geyserville. He began his career with Joseph Phelps Vineyards in 1981 as a bottling line supervisor and became cellar master in 1990, a hands-on job overseeing the day-to-day winemaking operations. In 1997, Damian was promoted to Vice-President in charge of production and in 2008 was named Director of Winemaking. He divides his time between both Joseph Phelps wineries, located in St. Helena and Freestone, CA. Today Damian lives in Napa with his wife, Carolyn. Between them they have five grown children: Graham, Sydney, Sarah, Samantha and Stacey.

HISTORY:                                                                                                                                                 In the late 1960’s, Joseph Phelps was running one of the largest construction companies in the U.S., Hensel Phelps Construction Company, when he won the bid to build Souverain Winery (now Rutherford Hill) located a few miles outside of St. Helena. Enamored with the beautiful Napa Valley and contemplating a career change, in 1973 Joe bought the 600-acre Connolly cattle ranch in Spring Valley, and began planting vineyards and construction of a winery. The first harvest in 1973 yielded Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Johannisburg Riesling bottlings, all custom crushed at nearby wineries. The Joseph Phelps winery was completed in 1974 in time for harvest, crushing grapes for the first Insignia and the first Syrah bottlings. It was a period of unparalleled activity, creativity, ingenuity, entrepreneurship and risk-taking. It put Joe Phelps and his Joseph Phelps Vineyards on the map of top Napa Valley wine producers.

Four decades later, the flagship wine, Insignia, is recognized as one of the world’s great wines. Thirty-one of thirty-seven vintages have been rated 90 or more points by various wine publications, including three perfect 100 point scores for the 1991, 1997 and 2002 vintages from Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate in Mr. Parker’s Historical Tasting of Insignia report, published in November 2013. The 2002 vintage of Insignia was also awarded “Wine of the Year” by Wine Spectator magazine in 2005.

Over the years, the goal of becoming 100% estate grown resulted in carefully planned acquisitions of prime vineyards in the Napa Valley. Today, the Phelps estate consists of the Spring Valley Home Ranch outside of St. Helena, Banca Dorada in Rutherford, Backus Vineyard in Oakville, Las Rocas and Barboza vineyards in Stags Leap, Yountville Vineyard in Oak Knoll, Suscol Vineyard in South Napa and beginning with the 2011 growing season, Larry Hyde & Sons Vineyard in Carneros.

Estate-grown wines include Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Insignia, Cabernet Sauvignon Backus Vineyard (the single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon from Oakville) and Eisrébe, a dessert wine made from the Scheurebe grape. Additionally, estate-grown Syrah was produced from the Larry Hyde & Sons Vineyard in 2012.

Joe Phelps has had a life-long love affair with the wines of Burgundy and a desire to craft wines in that style. Originally Pinot Noir and Chardonnay were sourced from St. Helena, later from Yountville and then from Carneros. Through the years, however, Joe continued to search for the ideal spot to grow both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. His search ended when the perfect combination of climate, soil and location was found in Freestone, located in the Sonoma Coast AVA, a mere six miles from the Pacific Ocean. In 1999, Phelps began developing 100 acres of vineyards just outside of Freestone. In 2005, construction began on a new winery which was completed in time for the 2007 harvest. Today, 80 acres of Pinot Noir and 20 acres of Chardonnay produce remarkable estate-grown wines bearing the Joseph Phelps name.

WWW.JOSEPHPHELPS.COM


GARY PISONI – PISONI VINEYARDS                                                    

A special place, Pisoni Vineyards expresses the land and climate of the Santa Lucia Highlands and the spirit of the Pisoni Family. The site is a source of exceptional Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Syrah.

First planted by Gary Pisoni in 1982, Pisoni Vineyards consists of small vineyard blocks arranged on and around the ridges of the mountainous landscape. Ranging in size from one-half to seventeen acres, the vineyard blocks perch at an altitude of 1,300 feet in the granite-laced mountains of the coastal Santa Lucia Range.

Inspired by the Burgundy tradition of having several wineries source fruit from the same vineyard, Gary Pisoni has formed relationships with some of the most prestigious Pinot Noir producers in California. With agreements based on handshake alone, these wineries are guaranteed specific rows and blocks each year. They purchase grapes at a per-acre price rather than a per-ton price, which maintains the focus on quality and not yields.

In addition to supplying fruit to artisan producers of vineyard-designated wines, the Pisoni Family retains a portion of the vineyard for the production of Pisoni Estate wine.

THE PRACTICE
Vineyard management is meticulous. Under Mark Pisoni's leadership, a long-time permanent crew of 18 skilled individuals perform all the work by hand. Every decision implements sustainable farming practices and long-term considerations. This commitment, combined with the rocky soils and cold Monterey Bay weather, produce serious and compelling wines.

THE FAMILY
In 1952 Jane and Eddie Pisoni began farming vegetables in the fertile Salinas Valley. A celery-crop profit in 1979 provided the down payment for the Santa Lucia Highlands property that became Pisoni Vineyards. Their love for the land provided the place where their son Gary could realize his dreams. Gary developed a love of wine while attending college. He started collecting fine French and German wines, and he made his first wine in his garage in 1978 at the age of twenty-five. In 1982, Gary broke ground and planted the first vines at Pisoni Vineyards. He was up against many obstacles, including not having a water source at the time.

Mark Pisoni, the vineyard manager, completed a B.S. in Agricultural Economics at the University of California, Davis, and an M.S. in Farm Business Management at Cornell University. He oversees the meticulous care of both Pisoni Vineyards and Pisoni Farms.  Jeff Pisoni is the winemaker. He earned a B.S. in Enology at California State University, Fresno, and got hands-on experience at premium wineries before becoming the Pisoni Estate and Lucia winemaker in 2002.

THE WINE
The Pisoni Family produces one wine each year under the label bearing its name: Pisoni Estate Pinot Noir. Although actual quantities vary with fruit yields, typical production is a mere 500 cases annually. Often noted for their deep color and intensity, wines from Pisoni Vineyards offer complex flavors and layers of undulating texture. The rocky mountain soil and the long, cool growing season provide the fundamental character of the wine, and the tannin and acid structure contribute to the age-worthiness.

LUCIA
Lucia vineyard designated Santa Lucia Highlands AVA wines. Lucia is the sister label of the Pisoni Estate wines. Whereas Pisoni Estate is committed to a single expression of the Pisoni Vineyards, Lucia represents the collection of vineyards that the Pisoni Family farms: Pisoni Vineyards, Soberanes Vineyard and Garys' Vineyard (the latter two farmed in partnership with Gary Franscioni).

The wines of Lucia are vineyard designated Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Syrah from these vineyards and eponymous Santa Lucia Highlands AVA cuvées with varying percentages of each vineyard blended together. Lucia wines are made alongside the Pisoni Estate wines using the same exacting standards for quality. They are sold via mailing list and high-end restaurants and retailers. If you are on the mailing list for Pisoni Estate wines, you will automatically have the opportunity to purchase the Lucia offerings.

WWW.PISONIVINEYARDS.COM