The grapes to produce the Pinot Noir Highliner Hitching Post 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.
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.