It’s an important time of year at Soaring Hawk Vineyards – it’s winemaker Joe Fariss’ time to shine.
These past few weeks leading into spring, the job is twofold: transferring juice from last fall’s harvest into barrels for the aging process and bottling wine that has been aging.
It’s Joe’s “little way of being an artist,” he likes to say.
What it means for you are some exciting offerings for the upcoming spring release. Here’s a peek at what you can expect from Joe's own tasting notes and also a look back at harvest and how we see those wines shaping up.
2015 RESERVE SYRAH
“Our patience really paid off with this one,” Joe said.
This has a lot of earth, minerality and forest floor with deep, dark black currant on the nose. This fruit is from the Oyster Ridge block at Margarita Vineyard, and you can really taste that ancient sea bed and brininess.
“This one was so big before; it wasn’t approachable,” Joe said. “Now, it’s got the classic granite on the finish with all the deep, dark fruit. It’s big, fruit driven; it’s got a nice Bing cherry or a really ripe black cherry... This is a 100 percent French-style Syrah here.”
2016 RESERVE SYRAH
Even though it's been in the barrel for a long time and was recently bottled, it still has a little bit of acid to it, which Joe said he’s amazed by for being in the barrel for three years. You can still get a little bit of vanilla, some nice cherry, a little bit of plum.
“I think it’s going to get even better in the bottle,” Joe said.
It has some spice, a little bit of pepper, and minerality that comes from Oyster Ridge.
“I think it has a classic Syrah flavor, instead of overripe, extracted and jammy, this is more like a cool temperature Syrah, so it has a little bit more acid, it has more of a French style,” Joe said.
This is one of our traditional blends that this year has some Grenache, Zinfandel, Syrah and Petite Sirah.
This one has a little bit more jamminess to it, is a little brighter with a bit more dark fruit like a black plum or cherry, with almost a fig-like taste on the finish. It also has some funkiness, and the back part of your palate almost gets a bacon fat profile to it. It has a hint of licorice on the finish, too.
“This one you can drink soon,” Joe said. “It’s a good happy hour wine, or you could do this with pork or maybe lamb chops, something that is a little fatty.”
This is one of our classic Rhône blends, and this year it comes in at 54 percent Grenache, 32 percent Petite Sirah and 15 percent Mourvèdre.
It has a brick-like color in the glass, which is from a little more age on it. On the nose, there’s minerality and forest floor while the taste has a nice, peppery finish.
“This has a nice hangtime and finish,” Joe said. “It starts off spicy, then the mid-palate you get cherries and plum and then you get the blueberry from the Petite.”
Barrique Blanc, which is French for "white barrel," is our Viognier done in a three-year-old French oak barrel with oak staves.
It has “just a hint of oak and has been aging for about nine or 10 months, and it’s just perfect,” Joe said. “It hasn’t been overdone with vanilla or too “woody”, it has a really nice soft oak flavor and the fruit still comes through really, really good."
It still has a lot of fruit, a little more straw color than the stainless Viognier, with that classic creamy, buttery profile.
“The oak just kind of softens it on the finish,” Joe said. “It’s not over the top.”
This is done in 100 percent stainless, and it was just bottled. It really creates a bright, crisp, fruity expression. You get minerality and also lighter flavors of apricot, mango and honeysuckle on the middle of your tongue.
“It’s been my favorite white wine and we’ve done it every year we’ve been in existence,” Joe said.
We did the Whitehawk a little different this year. It is a white Rhône blend with 40 percent Viognier, 31 Marsanne and 29 Roussanne. Our previous blend of Whitehawk was all stainless. This time, we have aged the blend in a French oak barrel to give it that soft, buttery finish.
“I wanted to give it a little different flavor profile, with just a little creaminess, more acid and a little more fruit,” Joe said. “That’s the one thing that I really enjoy about being a winemaker, I can change things, and what I feel this year will probably be completely different next year, because to be honest with you I don’t want to go to the same place on vacation every year. I love variety, and that kind of comes with wine, too.”
2019 HARVEST NOTES
“It was much better than last year,” Joe said.
While last year saw big temperature swings, this summer was a little more even as far as the ripening went. We didn’t get that big heat spell in the end; that kind of shuts down the vineyard, the vines want to go into defensive mode.
“We had a lot of unbalanced fruit last year with lower acid and lower sugar,” he said. “This year was even. We only had a few really hot days.
As I mentioned, I like to change things up so we went with mostly Burgundy and Bordeaux varietals in the 2019 harvest: Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot - and we did Zinfandel, always a favorite. Some of the Bordeaux varietals take a little longer to ripen in terms of harvest, where the Rhone varietals are a little bit early.
“We’re going to do more blends,” Joe said. “We’ve got a lot of fun stuff on our agenda.”
We’re also going to do two Rosés from the harvest, one from Cabernet Sauvignon and the other from Zinfandel.
Both are done in stainless. The Cab Rosé sat on skins for 30 minutes, while the Zin sat for an hour on skins, which created a much darker color in the glass.
“We’ve very excited about the Rosé,” Joe said. “It’s one of my favorite wines to do because I love to drink it all year round, even though some people like it as a summer wine and drink it ice cold, I’ll drink it all year round.”
We're excited for our upcoming release, and we hope you are, as well. We'd love to see you up at the winery to sample them for yourself, so don't be shy about scheduling a tasting. Cheers!
It all started over a round of beers. Odd, considering this is a story about wine.
But it was the moment four close friends took a leap of faith and bought a winery together. It’s the crux of the story of how Soaring Hawk Vineyards came to be, but there’s a lot more to it than beers.
It started with – and if you really think about, continues to be about – friends enjoying life together. Good wine, yes, absolutely. Finding just the right piece of land, yes, there may have been some luck there. Throw that all together and mix in a little cosmic influence, and there you have it – the best kept wine secret on the Central Coast.
Let’s start from the beginning.
Joe Fariss had been making wine with his wife Jill in the Los Angeles area for years, and they started Soaring Hawk with a small vineyard and his good wine that quickly was being enjoyed by more than just a handful of acquaintances.
One pair of particular close friends, Richard and Ann Gayou, became such big fans they all decided to go into business together and start a winery in the middle of what was fast emerging as the crown jewel of California wine country, the Central Coast and specifically San Luis Obispo County.
They began traveling to the area from LA to look at property, frequently. They looked at hundreds of places, and nothing was right.
After years of that routine, they got a call from their optimistic real estate agent talking up a beautiful spot in the hills outside of the quaint town of Santa Margarita next to the lake – a little off the beaten path, yes, but beautiful, the agent said.
“We really liked the property, and we hiked up to the top of the hill overlooking the lake and started thinking, ‘This is really cool,’” Joe said. “All of a sudden, these four hawks flew over and were flying around. Nobody said anything.”
Fate, it seemed. But Richard felt there was more to it, and he was the first one to say so.
The group finished looking at a handful more properties that day and convened back at the RV park where they were staying.
“We sat down and cracked a beer, and Richard says, ‘Is anyone going to say anything because that first property we looked at, I think we should buy it, and if you have any questions those four hawks up there for Soaring Hawk, those are our parents up there saying buy the property,’” Joe said recalling the moment.
“So we did.”
And if you believe Soaring Hawk was born by fate or a message from beyond, they probably wouldn’t argue with you. What’s kept it going since is the passion the four friends had that drove them through years of searching for the right place to build their dream.
It’s a passion easily felt at the tasting room they built themselves, where at least one of the four proprietors are sure to be there whenever you decide to visit. It’s a passion easily felt as you hear Joe speak about the art of making wine or Jill’s pride in the food pairings she creates for special events or RIchard and Anne talking about good times and close friends – no matter if you’re a longtime club member or first-time taster – as the reason they did it all.
It’s a story that may represent a group of friends who actually did the thing and because of it are now living the dream – and they’re all eager to share it with you around a glass of amazing wine.
Greetings and Happy New Year, Soaring Hawk members and fans!
We know it’s been awhile since we’ve talked, online at least. So we wanted to take this opportunity to introduce you to the winery's new online presence highlighted by a redesign of our website.
The bread and butter of what we do is the amazing in-person experiences we all share together at our little slice of heaven in Santa Margarita, and we wanted that to shine through online, as well. We also hope the new design creates a better experience for you for those times you can only visit us online.
The new website allows for:
soaring hawk news
All the latest from Soaring Hawk Vineyards