Hitching Post – Santa Barbara
Hitching Post is run by Frank Ostini, whose family ran the original Hitching Post from 1952, and Gray Hartley, a former commercial fisherman. Back when they started in 1979, they had but one barrel produced in their garage. Later on they made the wines at the Au Bon Climat/Qupe winery, and now the wines are produced in Buellton just around the corner from the Hitching Post restaurant (yes, the one in ‘Sideways’). At the heart of Hitching Post is a focus on Pinot Noir from vineyards in Santa Barbara County, specifically Santa Maria Valley, Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Rita Hills and Los Alomos. These are traditional wines, aged in French Oak, bottled unfiltered, redolent in vibrant fruit with an intense vein of spice and earthiness but always with balancing fresh acidity.
Gen Red, from various vineyards along the Central cost, is a fascinating blend of Merlot, Valdiguie, Sangiovese, Tempranillo and Syrah all bringing depth to this sumptuous red, but with that Hitching Post hallmark freshness and spice. The Hometown Pinot Noir with its intense ripe cherries, earthiness and spice shows creaminess and crunchiness all at the same time. The Highliner is far more brooding and seductive. A wonderful generosity on the palate but with a bright acid backbone that will ensure this wine will live for many more years to come. At the pinnacle of this trio is the Perfect Set from a much sought after parcel of limestone in the Santa Rita Hills, the coolest part of the Santa Ynez Valley. Highly perfumed with hints of violets and cherries, the palate is a little drier with refined definition between fruit and acid. This wine is more chiselled with a beguiling but firm tannic structure.