Hawk & Horse Blog


With the season of wine giving - and receiving - behind us, you might be wondering about the best way to store wine at home. For those of you with a wine cellar, the answer is simple. For those who may be new to collecting, or just don’t have a cellar in your home, there are some excellent ways to help keep wines from spoiling as you age them to perfection.

Most California white wines are meant to be drunk young – the year of purchase is typically best. So, I’m going to focus on red wines.

First let’s discuss age-worthiness. Not all wines are created equal; not all red wines are intended for aging. If you are looking for a fabulous Wednesday night red, there are many wonderful options under $25 available at your local markets or wineries. These wines, while delightful, may not be the best option for aging. Remember that your storage real estate is valuable. Reserve it for wines that improve with age and value. If you’re not sure, ask your wine sales professional, or call the winery.

So now you have your collection of favored wines for storage. What is the best way to preserve the character and value of the wine while laying it down?

Light, heat, air and fluctuation of temperature are the primary agents which will age wine prematurely. Ideally, you will lay your wine down in a dark place which sustains a temperature of around 62 degrees Fahrenheit. Understandably this ideal is always not possible. The best many of us can do is to get as close to that ideal as is reasonable given our individual resources. When selecting a spot to store your wines, chose a place which won’t let the wine get too hot – or too cold. Storing wine on an inside wall, as opposed to an outside wall, is best. Avoid fluctuation in temperature; fluctuation in temperature will prematurely age – and can spoil - wine. The best option in a typical home is a cool, dark closet that isn’t near a heat source or window.

Consider the cork. Cork is a natural substance. It is cut from the bark of the cork oak tree. It is porous, so when wet, it expands slightly. This helps it to keep a tight seal. If the cork becomes too dry, it may shrink and allow leakage. Store your wine bottles on their side. This will keep the cork wet while not putting too much pressure on the seal (as storing upside-down may do).

While it can be attractive to store wine on open shelving or racks, if you don’t have a cellar with uniform temperature and controlled humidity, it is best to keep the wine that you wish to age in the box in which it was shipped. These boxes provide an added level of protection for your wine. It is perfectly acceptable to stack several boxes on top of each other. Just be sure to consolidate wines as they are used. Avoid emptying a box on the bottom of a stack as it may collapse and cause a mess! Simply rotate bottles as you use wines to keep your stacked boxes full.

It might be fun to keep a log book and track your wines. Keeping notes on your experience of how the wines developed with age might be useful in understanding your personal preferences and in selecting wines to purchase in the future.

When you open wines you’ve stored, don’t be alarmed to find a bit of sediment. This is merely solid material from the wine which has settled to the bottom of the bottle. (If you are laying your wine on its side, it will form on the side until you shift the wine to the upright position. Handle your wine carefully so as not to disperse the sediment. If wine has sediment, you may like to decant it. But, if you pour carefully, decanting is not necessary. Just try not to re-incorporate the sediment by unnecessary movement or shaking of the bottle. Avoid pouring the last drops in which the sediment is suspended. If you do get a bit of sediment in your glass, or drink some, don’t worry! It is harmless. The worst is that it feels gritty on the palate and doesn’t look pretty in the glass.

Above all, remember to have fun and enjoy!

For more information, call or email Tracey at the winery: 707/481-6941; This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

California Wine Country Open for Business!

Northern California wants you to know that wine country is open for business. While, for those who suffered damage and loss, things are not entirely back to “normal,” a drive through the lovely roads of Lake, Napa and Sonoma Counties are mostly as you remember. Sections of road reveal fire damage but already signs of clean-up and repair are evident. Charming towns, and the vast majority of wineries that you know and love, look forward to welcoming you. Visiting and buying wine is a delightful way to support our local economy and help wine country recover.

Crush 2017: Our 2017 vintage was entirely unaffected by fire or smoke. In fact, we brought in our single most bountiful and one of our most beautiful harvests to date. Harvest was put on hold for a couple of days in the first week of October, but this was due to road closures. There was no fire near our vineyard this time. Things quickly got back on track and crush progressed in earnest. The fruit was not only beautiful, it was exquisitely scented with the entire crush pad flooded with aromas of ripe berries, black fruit and earth. The wine from the vintage will deliver saturated color, layers of flavor and richness of texture. 

Wine Society Social: A great day of hawks, horses and wine was enjoyed by all who attended our annual Wine Society Social. West Coast Falconry did not disappoint. Everyone had an opportunity to get up close and personal with a visiting gyrfalcon, red-tail hawk and an owl. We learned how these majestic birds of prey hunt, live, and work together with the West Coast Falconry team to educate the public. 

Reminder to watch:

Our Executive Winemaker and Founding Partner, Tracey Hawkins on the TV show FarmHer on November 17, 2017 on RFDTV. Please check your local listings for time and channel. We love this program as it features women in agriculture and was founded by a young woman entrepreneur, Marji Guyler-Alaniz. You can find FarmHer on-line at farmher.com New Episodes every Friday 9:30/8:30C  DirectTV -345  /  Dish Network -231, 231HD / Mediacom - 51,56, and 793HD (some channel numbers may vary depending on your network provider).

On the roads in Northern California we are beginning to see the sure signs of harvest.   Trucks, brimming with luscious wine grapes deliver the bounty of the vintage from vineyard to winery.  Most of the white varieties are harvested.  These tend to ripen before the reds.  The very first to be harvested are the wine grapes for Champagne.  Champagne and all sparkling wines are harvested a bit early because this bubbly delight is crafted differently from still wine - winemakers want more acid and less sugar in the fruit. Next come the whites and then the softer reds.  

Finally, Cabernet Sauvignon, king of the wine grapes, wraps up the harvest season.  We expect to harvest in mid-September.  

By all measures, this will be an exquisite vintage.  We had a late, wet spring.  Summer started mild and slightly cool with our highs in the 90s.  Our first major heat spike came in early August with temperatures in the triple digits.  Then we saw a nice fluctuation from cool days to hot. Our evenings are always cool due to coastal influences from the Pacific.  All this variation in temperature lends quality to our wines.  We had another heat spike in early September - just last week with temperatures topping 111 degrees! During these days of extreme heat we use drip irrigation in the evenings to keep the vines strong and healthy while the fruit reaches maturity. Our vines are tough and rugged, producing small clusters of fruit with thick skins. The depth of color, flavor and phenols come from the skins as the flesh of most red wine grapes is "white" (actually a translucent, whitish ice green).  We are very excited about the way the 2017 growing season is wrapping up at Hawk and Horse Vineyards.

 We, at Hawk and Horse Vineyards, would like to thank you for your outpouring of support during this trying time.  We share your concern for all those impacted by the recent and ongoing fires.  Hawk and Horse Vineyards, our employees and family remain safe at present.  The vineyard is away from active fire, and the air quality is very good at the moment.  We are closed due to the danger in the region.

We would like to thank all fire personnel who are putting their lives on the line and all first responders for their tireless work.

We still have room for animal evacuees at the ranch.  Should you know of anyone in the fire region with access to Lake County needing safe haven for large animals, horses, goats or the like, please have them call Tracey Hawkins at the winery. As always, our website is open for business.

For updates go to the CalFire site:  fire.ca.gov

Please join us in keeping California in your thoughts and prayers.

As we move from winter’s cold to the warmer days of spring, the earth seems to come alive!

In the vineyard, renewal comes in the form of new life.  Small buds emerge and bright green leaves unfurl marking the start of the growing season; fruit trees are blooming and the ground is covered in a thick emerald carpet.  Hawks are sitting their nests, honey bees are beginning to emerge and make their presence known, and animal babies appear – from squirrels to mountain lions and every large and small creature in between.

Spring is a time to take stock of our lives.  We begin assess challenges and look forward to new opportunities ahead.  Spring is a good time to “clean house,” weed the garden, and check in to see if we are adhering to those New Year’s resolutions we set our intentions on when the year began.

Am I rambling…?  Maybe – but perhaps that is also a part of spring when the sun infects the senses and the perfume of flowers in bloom transport us into a new season.

May your spring bring you joy and enduring hope!

- Tracey Hawkins

Hawk and Horse Vineyards Winemaker

Hawk and Horse Vineyards