Hook & Ladder

2010 Russian River Valley Merlot

Merlot •Los Amigos Ranch

Russian River Valley

Offer Expired:Jan 15, 2014 at 11:59 pm
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Mission Briefing


The Engine is Red

Today’s Hook & Ladder Vineyards and Winery 2010 Russian River Valley Merlot is complex and delicious - but ultimately very approachable. And very food friendly.

Winery president Michael DeLoach joined our tasting panel when we reviewed today’s wine. We enjoyed his presence as he joked with us and guided us through this delicious Merlot. His personality was every bit as effusive as his wine.

Made in an opulent and fruit-forward style, this is one balanced and delicious wine. Flavors cascade all across the palate, with fruit, spice and earth each playing an equal part. The finish is elegant, with a slightly dusty and gently drying feeling that gradually spreads to the far corners of the palate.

We offer you this incredible Merlot with our boldest recommendation.

Tasting Profile


Vivid, midnight scarlet at its heart, transitioning to a lighter ruby edge.


This wine is truly beautiful on the nose, with plenty of dark fruit balanced against earth and warm herbal notes. Reduced black cherry, blackberry, and plum elegantly mingle with aromas reminiscent of a fresh spring garden, including red pepper, tomato stem, rosemary, and sage. These notes are combined with sweet cedar, dark chocolate, and a slight hint of minerality.


Very similar to the nose, and just as pleasing on the palate. Dark fruit of black cherry, blackberry, and black currant combine with espresso bean, sweet tobacco, and warm spices.


A cool, light entry, with just a touch of grip and drying at the very edges of the palate. This wine has a long and incredibly satisfying finish.


We recommend a hearty winter meal of wild boar shoulder, braised in a rosemary-infused port sauce.

What the Winery Says

Our hand-picked Merlot is gently de-stemmed and crushed to both closed and open-top fermentors. When the color, flavors and tannins are fully extracted from the skins, the wine is aged for a minimum of 17 months in both European and American oak. This Merlot is combined with 5% Cabernet Sauvignon from our adjoining vineyards to bring added structure and complexity. A full mouth of blackberry and chocolate-raspberry with hints of spice, plum and tobacco lead to a lingering black cherry finish.

Jason De Loach
Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, California
Fruit Composition
95% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon
17 months in European and American oak

About the Winery

In 1970, San Francisco firefighter Cecil De Loach and his wife Christine staked their claim in the wine grape business by purchasing 24 acres of old-vine Zinfandel in the Russian River Valley of Sonoma County. For several years they watched others make notable wine from their grapes before making the decision to produce wine under the De Loach label in 1975. More than three decades later, Cecil and Christine sold that label and have continued their winemaking skills at the helm of Hook and Ladder Vineyards, a small family winery that employs a simple philosophy – craft exceptional wines, from the highest quality grapes, that people love to drink. We consider each step of the winemaking process an opportunity to showcase the distinctive flavors contained within our carefully cultivated grapes.

Winemaker Jason De Loach

Jason De Loach was introduced to the wine industry in the customary way; physical labor. As a young man at De Loach Vineyards he eventually worked his way into the cellar. At the age of eighteen he became involved in harvest, crush, and later on became Production Coordinator as well.

After cutting his teeth at De Loach, Jason moved up to the title of Cellar Master for Balletto Winery, where he oversaw and operated a significant portion of the winemaking process. With commitment to his craft, Jason soon was named Assistant Winemaker under renowned winemaker Dan Cedarquist.

Keeping with the tradition of his grandfather, Jason attended viticulture classes, and then took courses in enology from the University of California at Davis. After helping produce a number of gold medal winning wines at Balletto, Jason returned to his family roots at Hook and Ladder in 2006. There he began as Cellar Master and soon became Winemaker.

Jason has been producing outstanding wines ever since; having his pick of the very best fruit from over 400 acres of vineyards farmed by his grandfather Cecil De Loach for over 30 years, Jason continues to generate exceptional wines.

Vineyard Notes

On 375 acres situated in Sonoma County’s Russian River Valley, our vineyards produce cool climate grapes widely recognized as some of the finest in the world. Grape growers of the early 1900’s recognized the sites of our vineyards as being uniquely suited for wine grape growing. Building on their knowledge and experience, we have matched the soil and climate of each parcel with the varietals most likely to achieve its full potential.

Sustainable Framing Practices

Hook and Ladder Winery has taken a number of steps not only to preserve but also to promote the natural environment of Sonoma County.

Cecil and Christine De Loach have included 118 acres of their vineyards properties in the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District. These properties include an oak woodland which, unlike many parts of Sonoma County, are regenerating well.

A number of years ago we started an oak tree nursery to provide an in-house source of native oak trees to be used in our environmental projects. Along with our infant oak trees we do not cut down healthy, mature oak trees, we simply make them an integral part of our vineyards.

In dealing with the animals that share vineyard land with us we have implemented a number of creative and environmentally conscious techniques such as barn owl boxes and raptor perches which promote natural predator-prey relationships and reduce the need for environmentally harmful pest control techniques.

We practice integrated pest management and use only the most environmentally safe chemicals, those that kill the pest and do not affect any other life.

Hook and Ladder Winery makes a special effort to preserve our most important agricultural resource, water. We are constantly vigilant of the creek, stream and river ways and their ecosystem, never allowing the vineyard edge to impose on them. We take steps to avoid the contamination of waterways with soil, sediment, or pesticides.

Offer Expired:Jan 15, 2014 at 11:59 pm
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