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Estate Wines

Photogallery rendered here.


The idea of Hourglass was born from a place, yet ultimately would become a journey of human discovery. The interplay of terroir and artistic intention yields wines of unique personality that possess an intriguing dialectic: rich with layers of concentration yet vibrant with a tensional edge; classically structured yet silky in texture; unquestionably modern but with traditional stripes. 

So how does that come about?

Tony Biagi Tony Biagi The Winemaker

Tony Biagi is a postmodernist, in life and how he applies his craft as a winemaker. Among his many unique talents is his ability to synthesize traditional techniques with cutting-edge theory—a classicist/modernist yin and yang. He approaches winemaking as an artist informed by science, accepting there is certain alchemy in winemaking that may never be fully understood.  

Tony explains, “Think of making wine as assembling a complex puzzle, and each puzzle piece has a synergistic response to the other. Change any one of the pieces and you change the entire picture. We want the picture to have particular focal points and counterpoints. Within each vintage, we make minute decisions in our farming and winemaking based on the differences each year brings—shaping each puzzle piece—to give us the most vivid, multidimensional picture: with our Cabernet Sauvignon, for example, a pure black fruit piece for depth, a tangy acid piece for lift, a color piece to fit with a tannin piece to influence refined structure; one to smooth texture, one for length, one for aromatics, and so on…Then, we go about marrying the individual pieces together as early as we can and give them 22 months in French Oak, allowing them to integrate into a whole.”   

As demonstrated in his debut 2012 vintage with Hourglass, Tony approaches the puzzle from the center, building his wines from the inside out. He first establishes a classic structural core, using the most cutting-edge means possible to encourage tannin and color to bond in a tight weave. “That tannin/color relationship is critical to everything else we do; we go to great lengths in our vineyard practices, maceration protocols and cellar procedures to encourage that,” he explains. Once the weave is refined, Tony builds mouthfeel around it with layers of silky textural depth, emphasizing the purity of fruit expression. “I want my wines to be rich, but if that’s all they are they become one dimensional and monotonous,” he outlines. To that end, Tony wires richness against acidity and minerality, bringing energy into the equation. This counterpoise results in a sum that is alive on the palate while deep in concentration. 

Meeting through a tasting group of Napa’s most promising young winemakers, Jeff and Tony discovered a synergy of ideas and quickly developed a “mutual mentorship” as they call it. “We both had 20 years under our belt and had followed the pendulum swing of ripeness Napa experienced. We have learned a great deal in the process and have very clear ideas about what we want to retain and what we want to refine,” Jeff notes.

Jeff continues by pointing out, “We’re in a refinement phase of what we started some 20 years ago. Our objective is to farm to very precise moments when grape chemistry is in balance. The goal is not to chase some mythical ideal of a vineyard’s ‘ultimate expression of terroir,’ as if that occurs magically. The objective is to find our ultimate expression of that vineyard. Terroir is real, but it’s subject to interpretation. We drive to find a balancing point where the vineyard delivers the dialectic puzzle pieces we are looking for. If we get that right, Tony has what he needs to work his magic.” 

Visualizing Winemaking

Science, art and intuition merge to create the wines of Hourglass. Starting in the vineyard and ending in the glass, the process is a seamless continuum; the wine, a beautiful, ever-evolving entity.

Peering through the microscope offers a glimpse of an Hourglass Cabernet Sauvignon's delicate molecular architecture--a mosaic assembly yielding color, depth, complexity and viscosity.

The full range of opportunity
for a wine is locked in
the berry.

grape berries and people picking
vines through trees
While chemical readings provide the cues, the ultimate decision of what and when to pick relies on observation, intuition and artistic vision.
hose hanging on wall
The human element brings the wine into being. Each decision, each interpretation, no matter how seemingly insignificant, contributes to the whole.

The latest techniques
are not always the most
fitting, the traditional
methods not necessarily
the bible.

barrel with hose attached
"If you’re not 'in it' in every way, you aren’t able to detect the small nuances that inform good decisions. My hands are involved in every single step so there is continuity in the process, start to finish." - Tony Biagi
microscopic image of wine
"You learn so much by seeing and smelling and feeling, but you also need to look inside the juice at a microscopic level to understand its chemical web.” - Tony Biagi

Tony ascribes to no
dogma, marrying
Old and New World
in creative and
compelling ways.

wine being drawn from stainless tank
Through the modern technique of hot fermentation, color bonds with tannin capping it into shorter chains. These shorter tannin chains pack together more tightly to create a tighter weave, a more refined structure.
bottles and glasses on a table
A wide range of micro-lots—subdivided blocks picked in multiple passes at strategic points of ripeness form the “puzzle pieces.” These puzzle pieces are evaluated and blended very early in the aging cycle to encourage better component bonding.

The ultimate decision...
relies on observation,
intuition and artistic vision.