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.
Hitching Post Highliner Pinot Noir 2017
The fruit jumps out of the glass onto your palate and gives a very juicy, ripe fruit profile initially. When you allow air to open the wine up, it will showcase layers of herbs, baking spices, and the smoky, savory qualities Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir is known for. Crazy smooth finish that leaves you wanting more.
For this, top-of-the-line bottling, the team blend their best barrels from the best vineyards. The goal is to achieve balance and complexity in a graceful and elegant, yet compelling and complete expression of Pinot Noir from our region. This wine is a barrel selection (45% new French oak and 45% new Hungarian Oak) of maritime-cooled vineyards in Santa Barbara County, combining the forward fruit and richness of the Santa Maria Valley, with the earthiness and structure of fruit from the Sta. Rita Hills. The blend of vineyards can change with each vintage depending on which ones produce the best of the best for that particular growing season. This 2017 is 30% Sanford & Benedict and 15% Rio Vista from the Sta. Rita Hills, 30% Bien Nacido from the Santa Maria Valley, with a smattering of Quinta del Mar (15%) from San Luis Obispo County that adds a dash of racy acidity, ideal for food pairing. This blend includes the following vineyards & clones 777, 667, and 115.
The grapes were gently destemmed and the must chilled to 50 degrees F. After a 3 day cold soak, there was a long slow fermentation. There were many punch downs early, and just a few late, to maximize extraction of flavor and color while minimizing bitterness. Once the new wines were dry the juice was pressed off and moved them to barrels with their lees. The separate lots were barrel aged in the 60 degree F, 85% humidity controlled cellar. In early 2018, the team started blending trials to find this specific blend that represents the best wine we could make from Santa Barbara in 2017. These separate lots were racked off their lees, assembled into this blend, and bottled in May 2018.