2008 Hook & Ladder Vineyards and Winery Russian River Valley Cabernet Franc

Mission Codename: Fire for the mind as well as the body

Operative: Agent White

Objective: Revisit Hook & Ladder Vineyards and Winery to secure their 2008 Russian River Valley Los Amigos Ranch Vineyard.

Mission Status: Accomplished!

Current Winery: Hook & Ladder Vineyards and Winery

Wine Subject: 2008 Russian River Valley Los Amigos Ranch Vineyard Cabernet Franc

Winemaker: Jason De Loach

Winery Backgrounder: Two generations and 30 years after entering the wine trade, the De Loach family are still making extraordinary wines. Cecil, a retired San Francisco firefighter, and his wife, Christine, purchased their first 24 acres of grapes in the Russian River Valley. When the tired of seeing others making award-winning wines from their grapes, they launched their own wine label, under the De Loach family name. The De Loach Winery became synonymous with the Russian River Valley. After selling the De Loach label, the family launched the Hook & Ladder winery, whose purpose it is to ”craft exceptional wines, from the highest quality grapes, that people love to drink.”

Regional Backgrounder: The Russian River Valley, in Sonoma County, produces a range of wines of of remarkable distinction. The cooler maritime conditions of the region make the RRV ideal for growing a variety of grapes. This AVA was officially designated in 1983, but many of the wines in the region used the designation as early as the 1970s (early in California’s wine history) with the many of the vines having been first planted in the early 1900s.

Wine Spies Tasting Profile:

Look – Dark garnet that extends to edges with a clear but densely hued core. When swirled, this slightly viscous wine leaves slow fat legs many of which hang on the side of the glass for several moments before descending to the wine below.

Smell – Rich and aromatic with lots of spiced dark fruit including cherry and blackberry framed by toasted oak. Notes of wild anise, bittersweet dark chocolate, soft green herbs and tobacco adds complexity and depth.

Feel – Generous and plush, this wine is initially cool and smooth until mid palate when its finely grained tannins, lively acidity and textured minerality make their appearance. As this wine opens it becomes very smooth and round on the mouth but remains well structured into the finish.

Taste – Ripe and sweet dark fruit and especially ripe cherry, raspberry and blackberry blend with toasted and spiced oak, soft earthy and mocha, sweet cigar tobacco and bittersweet chocolate notes. A subtle meaty and minerality also lingers underneath the fruit flavors.

Finish – This wine’s ripe and expansive fruit lingers long into the finish, and while the fruit gentle fades, the well structured tannins linger.

Conclusion – The 2008 Hook & Ladder Vineyards and Winery Russian River Valley Los Amigos Ranch Vineyard Cabernet Franc is a delicious, and value, Cabernet Franc that is rich and inviting on the nose, smooth but well structured on the palate and has plenty of great fruit, especially ripe cherry on its approachable but pleasantly complex palate. Enjoy this wine with grilled steak tips or a rustic cheese plate now or for the next five years.

Mission Report:


SUBJECT: Jason DeLoach

WINE EDUCATION: This year will be my 15th harvest, I just turned 31. Most of my education is all hands on experience, I also did an internship in Chile, took viticulture at the Santa Rosa Jr. college and I did a winemaker course with the UC Davis Extension program. I also worked at a custom crush winery for almost 4 years as a cellar master.

CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: Head winemaker at Hook and Ladder winery

WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Make the best wine you can with the tools that are given.

WINEMAKER QUOTE: “Too much oak in a wine is a crime”

FIRST COMMERCIAL WINE RELEASE: At Hook and Ladder – Spring 2010


AGENT RED: Greetings, Jason. We are thrilled to be showing your 2008 Russian River Pinot Noir today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.

JASON DELOACH: Glad I can help.

RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?

JASON: I was lucky enough to grow up in the wine industry. When I was 14 I started working for my Grandfather Cecil DeLoach every summer for half my summer vacation – but I couldn’t start working in the cellar till I was 18. So as soon as I turned 18 I started working in the cellar full time. I really liked the controlled chaos of harvest. I really like to work hard, I like team work and I love science. My dad got me hooked on science early on. So really at the time I just figured I would work towards someday being a cellar master..

RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?

JASON: I worked with a lot of wine makers. The 3 years before I started working for Hook and Ladder I was a cellar master at a custom crush winery. Dan Goldfield of Dutton Goldfield, Jeff Mangahas of Hartford Court and Dan Cederquist which was the wine maker for DeLoach vineyards for a long time. He also was a consultant at the custom crush winery where I worked. The thing that was great about working at a custom crush winery is that you work with Winemakers that have really different styles/approaches to what they do and want. There are Winemakers that are super proactive and others that kind of just let the wine do its own thing. I spent the first 6 years of my time just working in the cellar, so I have a pretty good feel for what can be done at a realistic level. I guess I lean towards being realistic but also I’m proactive and expect a lot of what we can accomplish at Hook and Ladder. I know this doesn’t make any sense, but I consider myself a realistic perfectionist.

RED: Who do you make wine for?

JASON: I make wine for Hook and Ladder Winery ha ha ha. No, really, my goal at Hook and Ladder is to make the very best wine I can with the tools that are given. I want to show case the best wine I can make, so I guess I answer to myself first – then Cecil.

RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.

JASON: The vineyards for the 2008 Cabernet Franc are located on our familys Los Amigos Ranch in Healdsburg, part of the Chalk Hill sub-appellation of the Russian River Valley. This is a wine that has very nice deep color, has flavors of intense cherry vanilla, dark berry and spice. It is a very full bodied wine that has a very long lasting raspberry spice finish. There is also a very nice acid to tannin structure, and just the right amount of oak to compliment the wine. The wine is aged for an average of about 14 months in a combination of American and French/Hungarian oak, between 20-25% of which is new wood; keeping in mind we also consider first, second and third year wood as relatively new. We make sure to compliment the wine, not over power it and we usually only produce a small amount of this wine for the 2008 vintage we made only 291 cases.

RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?

JASON: I have two favorite pairings for our Cab Franc: Veal Parmigiana and spaghetti, or a grilled steak with roasted rosemary red potatoes.

RED: In your opinion, what makes the Russian River Valley so special?

JASON: On the border of the Chalk Hill/Russian River area the temperature is usually ten to fifteen degrees warmer then where we are in the heart of the Russian River Valley and just like the Russian River Valley in the morning there is a nice layer of fog that burns off mid to some – times late morning. Then later in the afternoon comes the heat, followed by the fog moving back in during the evening. This type of weather pattern is great because it extends the growing season allowing the grapes to mature at a slower rate allowing for much great fruit complexity and great fruit forward wines. Also because that region is ten to fifteen degrees warmer it is a great place to grow fruit like Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese and Merlot.

RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?

JASON: Well right now we are working on cleaning up and putting to rest the wines from the 2010 crush, also we are always doing monthly maintenance to the wines keeping up with our quality control program. In addition now is the time we start building blends and switching gears into our bottling

RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?

JASON: Well for our wines, really like people to take their time and let the wine open up, really take in the nose and when you taste the wine try to let your pallet guide you through the wine. At Hook and Ladder we make premium had crafted wines and we really put our full focus on everything we do. When we build a blends, by design the wine should take your pallet on a little journey, from the front of the pallet, to the mid pallet and on to the finish and take note of all the things that you can pick up along the way. We spent a great deal of time building wines that have a pallet that isn’t one sided or strong in one way and weak in another. We want the pallet and noise to be complete and full of character.

RED: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

JASON: I just really hope everyone enjoys our wines. I encourage you to take the time to learn about Hook and Ladder winery and its history. We really do have a great story and I just want to continue to make the best wines I can. Our wines really just keep getting better every year.

RED: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!

JASON: Thanks I really appreciate it, here at Hook and Ladder our mission is to make the best wines we possibly can with the tools provided and for a great value, of course I can’t forget to mention that we have approximately 375acres awesome Estate grown fruit farmed by Cecil DeLoach for over 30years. We have a great hard working wine making team, we try to keep things as “real” as possible and I couldn’t do it without them…..hope you enjoy the wine.

Wine Spies Vineyard Check:

The Hook & Ladder Vineyards and Winery, in the Russian River Valley region, can be seen in this satellite photo.

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