Diamonds in Dirt: Hawk and Horse’s Biodynamic Wines and Bison Burgers #EarthMonth

If you walk the vineyards at Horse and Hawk in California’s Lake county north of Napa, you may just find that you’re wearing diamonds in the soles of your shoes!

Did you know …

  • that Lake County has multiple hiking trails, campgrounds, and parks with views of vineyards, Clear Lake, and mountains?
  • that if you hike in certain areas of Lake County, you’ll end up with diamonds (aka quartz crystals) in the soles of your shoes?
  • that Lake County Diamond’s are a lovely crystal-like stone of the quartz family that is formed by volcanic processes and found nowhere else in the world?
  • that Lake County’s Clear Lake at 2.5 million years old, is one of the, if not THE oldest lake in North America?
  • that Lake County was carved out of Napa and Mendocino Counties?
  • that Lake County has almost 10,000 acres of wine grape vines?
  • that Lake County has some of the darkest skies in the country making it great for star gazers?
  • that the Lake County Red Hills AVA averages elevations of 2000 feet and goes up to 2,600 feet?

As Earth Month and California Sustainable Wine Month come to a close, we are featuring Hawk and Horse, a newly Demeter certified biodynamic winery in the Red Hills AVA of Lake County.

But what about those Lake County Diamonds?

Okay so they’re not real diamonds, but they still sparkle from the sun where they stud the soil between the rows of grapevines.

Also known as Moon Tears or Konocti Diamonds, you’ll only find them in this part of the world, around the Mt Konocti volcano. Made from an almost pure clear silicon dioxide, they come in different colors including yellow, pink, and lavender. The name “Moon Tears” comes from a love story: a Pomo Indian and the Moon fell in love. When the Moon had to leave to light the night sky and mark the seasons, she was so sad she wept. Her “Moon Tears” fell to Earth for us to find today in the Red Hills AVA including the vineyards of Hawk and Horse.

Hawk and Horse  is the brain child of lawyer David Boies. He has partnered with fellow lawyer Christopher Boies who handles the finances, as well as his stepdaughter Tracey and her husband Mitch Hawkins as well as other members of the Boies family to create Hawk and Horse Vineyards.

In the vineyard, Mitch has the final word while Tracey does wine making decisions. Both are influenced by mentor and consulting winemaker, Dr. Richard Peterson, who began making wine at home in 1948, and has been key consultant for many important wineries, particularly those working with volcanic soils like those at Hawk and Horse’s 18 rocky acres of mountainside vineyards.

The ideas of Rudolf Steiner also guide Hawk and Horse: cattle and horses co-mingle with hawks and other wildlife to contribute to the complexity as well as to a distinct sense of place. They describe their wines as having an “old world style with minimal intervention in the cellar.” The vineyards are graced with plenty of pure air and spring water.

Menu

  • Cheese plate – aged 24 month and 18 month aged gouda, creamy blue cheese, 12 month aged cheddar , stove fried soprosetto, salt cured olives
  • Buffalo sliders and sweet potato/potato oven fries with rosemary and olive oil

Nothing makes Sue happier than when we nail it on a menu, and this menu did! All of the wines went with all of the cheeses and the sliders: what a fantastic idea for a gathering of good friends and family!

2014 – Hawk and Horse Vineyards – Red Hills – Lake County – Cabernet Sauvignon – 14.3% alcohol
1500 cases produced
sample for my review consideration

Color: Deep maroon, with a bright purple rim.

Nose: Cherry cola, Dr Pepper, spice, eucalyptus. In the stemmed Cab Sauv glass there was more fruit while in the stemless Reidel there was more forest. Dry herbal qualities, like a deciduous forest summer into autumn.

Palate: Cherry phosphate, bright bing cherry, balanced tannins, a richness that is not overwhelming, a plumminess but not a super ripe plum, more of a santa rosa plum with a tart skin. It also has a nice minty finish before the long mushroom earthy finish with cocoa.

The palate delivers differently in the different glasses: in the reidel glass more fruit is delivered. If you are going to open this sooner rather than later go with the stemless glass.

Pairing: Super fabulous with the soprosetto, so nice with both of aged gouda; I preferred the lesser aged over the more aged, and I also liked it with the 12 year aged vermont cheddar because it brought out a nice tart cherry fruitiness to the wine. This was a beautiful pair when hand in hand with the oven sweet potato fries. It loves the rosemary herbaciousness. Even though we fried the sliders in a pan, there is a bit of smokiness to the meat which went beautifully with the wine. We are not fans of sweet potato fries at a restaurant, but when done in the oven, slow roasted and then at high heat for a bit to crisp, they are so wonderful with the wine.

2014 – Hawk and Horse Vineyards – Petit Verdot – Red Hills – Lake County – 14.5% alcohol
130 cases produced from a one-acre planting
sample for my review consideration

Color: Maroon velvet curtains with a ruby red rim. There are times that a Petite Verdot can be compared to having the inkiness of a Petite Syrah, this is not that wine!

Nose: Gunmetal, steel, earthen, flinty, maybe iron from the red iron rich soil. Sue got black pepper, I found plum and cherry or grape koolaide before pepper. We both found violets.

Palate: Ripe cherry, bing cherry, not quite plum, rhubarb, there is a nice tartness, the gunmetal  and steel, comes out in the finish. I wonder if this is from the iron in the soil?

Pairing: I went straight to the super aged gouda. This cheese did not have a love affair with the Petite Sirah, but both of our aged gouda is a match made in heaven with the aged gouda  The aged cheddar was also quite nice, like they were quiet friends.  It is nice with the wine, but it is really about what the wine does to the cheese. With the salt cured olives, it was a most interesting pair, the wine brought out a lovely fruitiness in the olives, and the olives did the same thing for the wine. Sue did not care for it with the blue cheese, but both of us agreed that it was wonderful with the fried sopressito; that was our favorite pair. If you are pairing this with steak, make sure it is a bacon wrapped filet. So fantastic with the portobello blue cheese burger.

 “The Petit Verdot really absorbed all of the flavors and integrated them the best”

2014 – Hawk and Horse Vineyards – Petite Sirah – Red Hills – Lake County – 14.1% alcohol
215 cases produced from a one-acre planting
sample for my review consideration

Best in a big petite syrah glass but if you don’t have one, a big stemmed cab glass works. We did not like it as much in the stemless reidel. it does not let the character in this wine shine.

Color: Super dense, burgundy, bright ruby rim, the wine really sticks to the outside of the glass.

Nose: Carnations, clove, cinnamon, violets, lavender, chocolate.

Palate: So smooth on the palate, big bold tannins, leathery texture, red stone fruit up front, mineral and iron finish. The textural experience of this wine is really phenomenal.

Pairing: Sue went straight for the blue cheese, and I did too; what a wow moment. Sue fried up a little bit of soprosetto with the cheese plate, the crunchy spiciness and fat in the fried meat, completely tames the tannins. Then follow it up with a salt cured olive and you are in heaven. It also went nicely with the 12 year aged vermont cheddar. With the aged gouda there is a malty creaminess that comes out in the wine and more fruit in the wine. The bison cheddar burger was wonderful!

2013 – Hawk and Horse Vineyards – Latigo – Dessert Wine – Red Hills – Lake County – 17.5% alcohol
Made with Cabernet Sauvignon Wine Grapes
135 cases produced

Color: Maroon with a mauve rim.

Nose: Lots of alcohol, but is not overwhelming.

Palate: Super grapey, not much of a nose either in a dessert glass or a Stemmed Cab Glass.

Pairing: Sue just wanted a simple dessert of flavored nuts with our dessert wine tonight. In a small dessert wine glass, this was not fabulous, so pour it into a big cab glass (no not a giant amount!) and what a game changer! Simple spiced nuts and this wine were an out of this world experience. Give me some more wine, give me some more nuts, give me some more wine, and on and on…… This was a fantastic dessert pair.

At the end of the night we decided that all of our wines were so pleasurable, and all of them went with the food with the different cheeses working more or less with different wines making it super fun to experiment with. The portobello burger went with all of the wines, too.

Sue: ” I am so glad that we decided to go with a simple, yet complex meal to go with our wines tonight. The arugula, and the blue cheese and the tomato and the bison meat, all clean simple easy to assemble ingredients to go with clean non manipulated wine. The pairings were fantastic, the wine was fantastic, and the evening fantastic as well.”

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