Monday, September 5, 2011


Mike with the Press
 Mike and Lisa Schnell began planting their Warner Springs vineyard in 2001; in 2008 they opened Hawk Watch Winery to the public. We’ve always liked their wines, but were especially impressed on our visit over Labor Day weekend. Mike started us off with a crisp 2010 “Vortex” blend (90% Sauvignon Blanc, 5% Semillon, 5% Viognier) from the estate’s grapes. Next we tried a 2010 dry Muscat that would perfectly complement a fruit tart; the wine’s fruit is all in the nose. Before moving on to the reds we happily tasted the 2010 “Sequoia” dry Zinfandel rosé – a perfect picnic wine named after the Schnells’ oldest cat. They donate $2 from every bottle to a local animal shelter. Now for the reds… The 2008 Cabernet Franc is redolent with cocoa and spices. There’s a 2008 Estate Syrah made in Côte Roti style with a little bit of Viognier and a delicious 2008 Signature Reserve Cabernet with grapes from Rolling Hills Vineyard in Temecula.  But the day was won by a fabulous earthy, spicy 2006 Signature Reserve Syrah. 

Alpha-Cat Zena
  The Schnells dabbled in winemaking at home before it became their vocation.  Eventually Mike quit his day job and started pouring at a winery in Temecula, where in time he became assistant winemaker and cultivated valuable connections with the best vineyards in the area, which now supply some of Hawk Watch’s grapes. Mike’s winemaking philosophy is that wines need to stand on their own, and his certainly do.

Hawk Watch’s wine club is currently closed to new members; interested parties can join a waiting list.

Hawk Watch is open Friday 12-5, weekends 10-5. 951.326.4692

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