Maggy Hawk: Anderson Valley’s Rugged and Remote Outpost of Exceptional Pinot Noir
“Adversity often brings greatness to Pinot Noir, the most difficult of grapes to master”
This 58.7-acre vineyard is hidden away in the Anderson Valley’s deep end among coastal redwoods at
elevations rising from 300 to 500 feet. For those familiar with the Valley, the vineyard is located west of the
Rock Shop on Highway 128. A remote, fog-cloaked and wind-swept setting, the site is unique for its complex
array of steep slopes and facings and well-drained, porous, decomposed sandstone soil. Maggy Hawk
winemaker, Elizabeth Grant-Douglas, revers the property, calling it her “favorite place on earth,” and
Maggy Hawk Vineyard has no neighbor issues to affect farming of the vineyard. No intensive viticulture
techniques are required as the vines are largely self-regulating and typically produce yields of less than two
tons per acre of beautiful fruit. That’s not to say that there are no challenges in farming this site. Dramatic
winds are common, and vines struggle throughout the season, threatened by early rains and frost, and ripening
so slowly that the vineyard demands patience.
Maggy Hawk Vineyard was planted in 2000 to distinct blocks with a variety of clones including Pommard,
Wädenswil 2A, and Dijon 115, 667 and 777, principally on rootstocks 3309C and 101-14. The vine spacing is 8‘
x 5‘ to 9‘ x 5’, with 978-1102 plants per acre on a VSP trellis with bilateral cordon. The vineyard manager,
Dennis Winchester, lives on the property.
Maggy Hawk is the name of Barbara Banke’s favorite, winning thoroughbred horse. Banke was a lawyer and
wine connoisseur when she met Jess Jackson and played a major role in the growth of Jackson Family Wines.
She established the Maggy Hawk label with the inaugural release in 2007. Before that, grapes from the Maggy
Hawk Vineyard had become an important component of the La Crema Anderson Valley bottling beginning in
In 2006, there was a bumper crop of more than three tons per acre from the vineyard, and two La Crema
Maggy Hawk Pinot Noirs were vinified (No. 5 Block and Blend) by the La Crema winemaker at the time,
Melissa Stackhouse. The following year the Maggy Hawk label debuted and three wines were produced by
winemaker Elizabeth Grant-Douglas (also the winemaker at La Crema, pictured below), each named after a
horse born to the mare Maggy Hawk: Jolie, Afleet and Stormin’. Afleet was a Preakness and Belmont Stakes
winner. With the 2009 vintage, four wines were produced, each named after the horses born to the mare:
Jolie, Afleet, and Unforgettable, and to her sire - Hawkster. The wines are all clone-designates from a specific
block within the vineyard.
Grapes were harvested October 5, 6 and 7, 2009, following a relatively cool, even growing season. Yields
were 1.85 tons per acre for Unforgettable block, 2.21 tons per acre for Afleet block, 2.30 tons per acre for Jolie
block and 2.44 tons per acre for Hawkster block. The wines received a 5-day cold soak followed by
fermentations driven by indigenous and proprietary yeasts. The wines were aged in 23%-35% new French oak
barrels for 15 months.
The 2007 Maggy Hawk Pinot Noirs were stunning wines, reviewed in January 2012 in the PinotFile
(www.princeofpinot.com/article/1169/). At the time, my comment was, “The trio of 2007 Maggy Hawk Pinot
Noirs are vinous treasures of uncommon pedigree much like their namesakes. They are truly special
connoisseur’s wines that defy appropriate description.....possessing a somewhereness that sets them apart.”
The 2009 Maggy Hawk wines were first offered for tasting at the Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival where I
again was quite taken by their uniqueness. A mailing list signup was offered at that Festival. Visit the website
at www.maggyhawkwines.com to join the mailing list (firstname.lastname@example.org). The complete website will
launch in January.
2009 Maggy Hawk Afleet Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
14.6% alc., pH
3.53, TA 0.52, 234 cases, $66. From 1.23-acre Block 4, Pommard
clone. Aged 15 months in 32% new French oak barrels.
dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Haunting aromas of spiced black
cherries and black raspberries creating an olfactory overload. Richly
endowed, with flavors of very ripe dark cherries, berries, currants and
sassafras enveloping the palate. An appealing wood spice and savory
herbal note add interest. Well-managed tannins create a round, polished
drinking experience. Very typical Pommard-based wine that is the richest in the
lineup. Still opulent the following day from a previously opened and re-corked
2009 Maggy Hawk Unforgettable Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
alc., pH 3.70, TA 0.51, 235 cases, $66. From 2.64-acre Block 5, clone
667. Aged 15 months in 35% new French oak barrels.
woodsy nose offering aromas of black cherries, spice and mushrooms
on the grill. Delicious core of fresh black raspberry and blackberry fruit,
nicely spiced. A veritable iron fist in a velvet glove wine with rich,
strikingly intense flavor, countered with seductive elegance and
silkiness. Flat-out great the following day from a previously opened and recorked
bottle. The name of this wine really fits.
2009 Maggy Hawk Jolie Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
14.6% alc., pH 3.62, TA 0.55, 237 cases, $66. From
10.03 acre Block 7, clone 115. Aged 15 months in 23% new French oak barrels.
Moderately dark reddishpurple
color in the glass. Showy aromas of red cherries and raspberries with a hint of forest floor, compost and
oak. Lushly flavored yet sleek and seductive with a core of deep raspberry flavor complimented by a whisper
of oak. A pretty wine yet endowed with good structural bones, finishing long and opulent. Still solid the
following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Very good (+).
2009 Maggy Hawk Hawkster Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
15.4% alc., pH 3.57, TA 0.54, 240 cases, $66.
From Blocks 12, 13, and 14, 6.18 acres, clone 2A. Aged 15 months in 32% new French oak.
hue in the glass. Very ripe fruit-driven wine offering aromas of black plum sauce, blackberry jam, and
spice, intensifying over time in the glass. Moderately rich with very ripe fruit flavors of red and black berries
and slight prune. Sturdy tannins with complimentary oak in the background. More fruity and spicy the following
day with a softer mouth feel. Tasted twice. Pushes the ripeness envelope too far for me. Good.