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The Story

Winemaking Philosophy
Hourglass has always been heavily influenced by a sense of place, what the French deem terroir. As we have expanded to encompass two dramatic vineyards (the original Hourglass Vineyard & the new Blueline Vineyard), our objective remains the same - to craft highly expressive wines reflective of their unique sense of place. But it is more than just a sense of place. It is the human interaction with that place that makes wine unique and special. Vines do not simply grow themselves into amazing wines. They must be coached and encouraged along the way by ever talented people such as our winemaking team of Tony Biagi and Efren DeHaro, and the vineyard management of people like Kelly Maher and Josh Clark, whose collective wisdom has a dramatic affect on the outcome on what you experience.

The convergence of soil, weather, geography and the human hand are what you taste every time you pull the cork from one of our wines. Part splendor of nature, part art, part science, wine is a complex web of relationships that yield the final result. Change the web and you change the profile. But what exactly does all this mean and how does human interaction work in concert in this dance with mother nature? What does that yield in our wines?

Working backward from the table where an open bottle first reveals itself, we seek to deliver a unique experience. Aromatically, any bottle of Hourglass must intoxicate and beguile. It must arouse your senses and draw you in. Aroma is a signature and a critical one at that. Whether it is the dark sour cherry and Mandarin of our Merlot, the floral violets and rose petals of Cab Franc, the earthy, minty, cassis and black licorice of Cabernet, the game and spice of Petit Verdot, or the high toned citrus notes of Malbec, all our wines are punctuated by dramatic aromas. This is both mother nature’s gift of rocky mineral rich soils as much as it is a concerted effort to manage the vines to deliver smaller berries (yielding higher skin to juice ratios and elevating flavor and aromatic concentration), the decisions regarding optimal ripeness, the thought process governing fermentation protocols, the nature of what barrels to use, how long to age, etc.

On the palate, a young Hourglass wine must jump and sing, an older wine must tease and intrigue. In either case, all things must be in their right place with the right dimension - balance, balance, balance. Explosive fruit must be framed, layered with earthy dimensions and polished textures, to create a seamless integration start to finish.

This is the art of winemaking and why Tony Biagi is so well suited to it. In our opinion he is one of the most balanced left brain / right brain individuals we have ever happened upon. His personality influences his decisions, which in turn flow through his wines. It is no accident that the younger wines exhibit explosive fruit driven flavors yet are balanced against the framework of acidic structure making them both intense and light on their feet at the same time. The grip of tannin is there, but polished on the edges for a silky texture, the result of patience in the field to allow seed and skin maturation to arrive at that perfect moment. We make no quarrel with modestly “higher alcohol” wines, as they are relative to deeper phenolic concentration and explosion of flavor and aromatics, yet this must be balanced against good natural acidity. Oak must be judiciously considered so as not to tread too heavily on the nuances of the vineyard. As it is with each decision, careful consideration is paid to balancing the web of complex relationships.

All of this sums to wines with beckoning aromas, a concentrated fruit core, structured and defined framework, depth of flavor, silky texture and an enduring finish, all in seamless balance. We are fortunate to have two very special vineyards uniquely suited to yield wines of this dynamic and a winemaking team experienced in walking the razors edge in their pursuit of balancing the complex relationships between mother nature, vineyard and winery. .

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Latest Pro-tasting notes

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Written Notes

There are two monumental wines in the lineup. First up, the 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Hourglass Estate offers an insane bouquet of pure black fruits, tobacco leaf, dark chocolate, and hints of mint to go with a full-bodied, incredibly layered and seamless profile on the palate. It has plenty of structure yet just glides over the palate, is perfectly balanced, and has a finish that won’t quit.

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Calistoga, Napa Valley


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