Hook & Ladder – when a firefighter becomes a winemaker!

Before Hook & Ladder, the story begins in 1970 in the heart of the Russian River Valley. A San Francisco firefighter and his wife falls in love for the second time … Not for each other! But for this beautiful landscape of the Sonoma Valley and for its old vines of Zinfandel.

Cecil De Loach and Christine his wife decide to buy 25 acres of vines. They begin by specializing in viticulture by just taking care of their vines, and selling the grapes for other winemakers. After a few years they founded a successful winery De Loach Vineyard on Olivet Road. This same winery bought in 2003 by Jean Charles Boisset.

Then they decide to start another family winery: “Hook & Ladder” where the objective is to vinify a maximum of fruits coming from their 370 acres vineyard! Their son Joshua even became the winemaker.

love the atmosphere when you visit the winery… Even if that day there were a lot of people. The whole team tries to take care of each visitor without exception adapting themselves to their public. The other thing that struck me, and I loved it, is how well the firefighter universe is well integrated. A truck at the entrance, names of the wines, decorations, coats of arms, t-shirts, up to the spicy sauce “Fire fighter” on sale in the shop. The concept is there but not too much either. You just need to take your time and paid attention to the detail.

My favorites wines 

Chardonnay, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley – Hook & Ladder estate

2014: A wine both fresh and spicy with citrus fruits, green apple but also zanc (kind of licorice) and peach. On the palate we can found the roundness linked to a lively acidity and a bit of bitterness. The final, have maybe a little lack of length but it has subtle floral aromas.

2016 (barrels): A very powerful nose and mouth with yellow sun-ripened fruit a lot of body, brioche and woody while maintaining an acid pattern that helps to avoid numbness of the palate;) along the length there are a few exotic fruits and pineapples.

Sangiovese, Praeterea 2013, “Brunello Style”

I don’t know exactly its story; It does not really exist in bottle (??) but this Sangiovese was already a very nice wine in its barrels. Of course the spicy and roasted wood markers were there. But this wine was also composed of black fruits at different stages of maturity. The balance between acidity and structure was there, with this tension on the whole mouth evolving in the final notes of alcohol fruits.


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