Hartley Ostini Hitching Post Wines

Hartley Ostini Hitching Post wines are available by the taste, glass or bottle at the Hitching Post II restaurant where they are sold to take home. They can be found at several retail outlets and, of course, from our website order form.  When the winery is sold out of these wines, some may still be available elsewhere, we are leaving the descriptions here to assist you with your choice. Winery prices are listed on this site's order form.

Hartley Ostini Hitching Post Wines are the creation of Gray Hartley and Frank Ostini, two friends that began making Santa Barbara, California wines in 1979. Long before Hollywood discovered the winemaking landmark and its great wines,  Gray Hartley, a former Alaskan salmon fisherman and Frank Ostini, the Chef and owner of the famed Hitching Post Restaurant in nearby Buellton, were brought together through their love of wine and winemaking. Over the years their backyard hobby has turned into a highly acclaimed winemaking enterprise. 

Frank and Gray“It started in 1979 as a lark,” said Gray Hartley. “Frank called me and said ‘why don’t we make some wine? I’d like to bring some wine into the restaurant’. We had an old whiskey barrel and away we went – and here we are, nearly thirty years later. Started out having fun and we still have as much fun now as we had then!”

In 1981 they discovered the wonder of Pinot Noir grapes; since then Pinot has been their primary focus. A great example of these wines is the Hartley Ostini Hitching Post HIGHLINER. “Highliner” is one of the best fishermen in the fleet, and this name honors the great men of the Alaskan Salmon Fishery alongside whom Gray Hartley worked for 28 years. A special wine, HIGHLINER is meant to be the “best of their fleet” of Pinot Noirs. Along with ten selections of Pinot Noir, Ostini and Hartley produce a Dry Rose called Pinks, a Syrah, a Merlot, and a Merlot-Cabernet Franc blend named Gen Red. Gen Red started as just a house wine for the Hitching Post. “As a chef, I like to make blends by combining flavors and textures to make a whole complete and satisfying taste.  I do it with food, and I like to do it with wine” says Frank  “The base of Gen Red is from two very good vineyards that when blended, always gives me what I’m looking for. The Alisos Vineyard in the hills of Los Alamos has 25 year old Cabernet Franc that lends dramatic aromatics; Westerly Vineyard in Happy Canyon (the warm eastern end of Santa Ynez Valley) yields well-farmed serious Merlot that makes intense red wine with ample tannins and a full mouth feel.  We always add a touch of Syrah to round out and sweeten the palate with ripe fruit flavors, resulting in a great bottle of wine.”

Then came Sideways, the Academy AwardŽ winning film set in Santa Barbara wine country, prominently featuring The Hitching Post and Hitching Post Wines.Sideways gave us the opportunity to make more wines,” says Frank. “We could always make wine; the difficult thing was selling it. It was always popular in California, but beyond that it was a harder sell. We didn’t have the marketing surge to do it. Sideways gave us the chance to sell our wine because it became known.” From the exposure in the film, Hitching Post wines have gained in popularity. Currently, the winery has 800 barrels and produces about 14,000 cases a year.

Hartley and Ostini strive to create handcrafted flavorful wines that possess poise and balance, successfully complementing the red oak grilled foods of Ostini’s restaurant, The Hitching Post II.  Hitching Post Wines are enjoyed by an audience that reaches around the globe who admire Santa Barbara wines for their fresh fruit, complexities of spice and earth, and refreshing acidity.

Gray Hartley and Frank Ostini are two gentlemen from the country – Santa Barbara Wine Country.  Their mission is to put a slice of Santa Barbara in every glass and a piece of their soul in each bottle of Hitching Post Wine. 


2003 Highliner

• HIGHLINER 2007 Santa Barbara County

With this, our top-of-the-line bottling, we blend our best barrels from our best vineyards. Our goal is to achieve balance and complexity in a graceful and elegant, yet compelling and complete expression of Pinot Noir from our region.

"HIGHLINER" is a barrel selection (70% new French oak) of maritime-cooled vineyards in Santa Barbara County, combining the forward fruit and richness of the Santa Maria Valley, with the earthiness and structure of fruit from the Sta. Rita Hills. This blend includes these vineyards & clones: Rio Vista 777, 115, Fiddlestix 115, 667 & 777, Bien Nacido, 115 and Pommard 4, and Julia’s Pommard 4.


"HOMETOWN" is our early bottling of Santa Barbara Pinot Noir that showcases the   delicious  fruit of young Pinot, and the balance and seduction of the 2008 vintage. This three valley blend replaces the Cork Dancer 7.1, with grapes sourced from the same vineyards near Los Alamos, Santa Maria, and Sta. Rita Hills. We are excited with our first Pinot Noir that we made at the ultra-modern Terravant Wine Company in Buellton.

• CORK DANCER 7.2 2007

The "CORK DANCER" 7.2 is a different bottling than 7.1, and represents an UPGRADE in quality as the grapes are sourced from our finest vineyards. A blend of 75% Santa Maria Valley and 25% Sta. Rita Hills. Sixteen months aging in 50% new French and Hungarian oak, you will find 7.2 is balanced and focused, a more feminine expression of Santa Barbara fruit (when compared to the Highliner).


"PERFECT SET" is our barrel selection of the Fiddlestix Vineyard in the Santa Rita Hills, a cool maritime influenced region in Santa Barbara County, one hundred miles north of Los Angeles. With 100% new French oak barrels, we have combined clones 115, 667 & 777. Each clone was fermented separately. This cuvee was created in April 2008 and returned to barrel, where it rested a total of 22 months before bottling in July 2009. Our best grapes, best vineyard, & best barrels, poised to develop over many years.

• ST RITA'S EARTH, Santa Rita Hills

Dark fruits, good structured blend of Sanford & Benedict, Fiddlestix and Clos Pepe Vineyards.

PINOT NOIR - Vineyard Designates

• Bien Nacido Vineyard, Santa Maria Valley

Young and rich with cherries and spice.

• Julia's Vineyard, Santa Maria Valley

Sweet cherry fruit and natural earthiness, bold and forward.

• Cargasacchi Vineyard, Santa Rita Hills

Oozing with raspberry, young with tannins and acidic structure, from one of the coolest sites of this cool AVA.

• Fiddlestix Vineyard, Santa Rita Hills

A mix of clones 115 and 667, rich and full bodied, tightly wound and barely showing its deep dark fruit and earthiness, promising a very complex future.



"BIG CIRCLE" is our Santa Barbara Syrah that features the fruitiness and acidity of cool vineyard sites, combined with the body and broad flavors from warmer vineyards, creating a complete wine of balance and complexity. We had a small crop averaging 2.25 tons/acre, grown at Alisos, Purisima Mountain, Great Oaks, Tierra Alta, and Cottonwood Canyon vineyards.

• Purisima Mountain Vineyard, Santa Ynez Valley

Mid-valley in Ballard Canyon, well planted and meticulously farmed by Tom & Steve Beckmen, who are successfully shooting for the highest quality.


• GENERATION RED, Santa Barbara County

"GEN RED" contains grapes from several Santa Barbara vineyards: Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Syrah from Alisos, Merlot from McGinley and Buttonwood. Also included here are Cabernet Franc and Valdiguie from the French Camp Vineyard in San Luis Obispo County. The Cabernet Franc adds the intense aromatics, the Merlot adds body and roundness, and the Syrah and Valdiguie add color, richness, and fruitiness.


Some very nice raings from Robert M. Parker Jr.'s THE WINE ADVOCATE:

Hitching Post 2002 Pinot Noir Santa Barbara.  [A] sexy, seductive effort possessing a medium ruby color, sweet currants, plums, and raspberries, a round, elegant texture, and a long supple finish. Enjoy it over the next 3-4 years. - 88 points

Hitching Post 2002 ST. RITA'S EARTH exhibits sweet currant, plums, and strawberries, along with notions of barbeque spice and sassafras. Medium-bodied, attractive, and lush, it begs to be consumed over the next 2-3 years. - 88 points

Hitching Post 2002 Cargasacchi Vineyard - Sweet cherries and currants along with more animal/meaty notes, austere tannin and structure are present. With some spicy, herbal undertones, it will benefit from another year of bottle age, and drink well for 4-5 years. - 87 points

Hitching Post 2002 Fiddlestix Vineyard  [A]a wonderful aromatic display of strawberry jam, cherries, spice box, dried herbs, and background notes of loamy soil and oak. Medium to full-bodied and elegant as well as authoritatively rich, this beauty can be drunk now and over the next 5-7 years. - 90 points

Hitching Post 2002 Highliner - Gorgeous aromas of raspberries, currants, cherries, oak and earth are followed by a fleshy, dark ruby-colored, broad, expansively flavored Pinot Noir that manages to be both substantial and delicate....it will provide immense pleasure over the next 5-6 years. - 90 points

Hitching Post 2002 Julia's Vineyard - Aromas of smoke, cherries, currants, flowers, spice box and earth are accompanied by a full-bodied, juicy, succulent, layered, multi-dimensional wine with a sexy, heady finish. Enjoy it over the next 5-7 years. - 91 points

Hitching Post 2002 Bien Nacido Vineyard - [A]n attractive , ripe, well-made medium to full-bodied offering displaying Pinot's more animal/muscular side. Give it another 12 months of bottle age, and drink it over the following 5-7 years. - 88 points

Hitching Post 2002 Syrah Santa Barbara is a mouthfilling, substancial, fleshy, juicy Syrah with terrific fruit as well asloads of cassis, licorice, underbrush, and leathery characteristics presented in a slightly monolithic, but satisfying manner. Drink it over the next 3-4 years. 88 points

Hitching Post Syrah 2001 Bien Nacido Vineyard. [R]eveals a cooler climate character than its two siblings, along with more Crozes-Hermitage-like herbaceousness, and a bevy of red as well as black fruits. It almost feels like the fruit is being compressed, but it has good weight, purity, and ripeness. Drink this elegant Syrah over the next 7-8 years. - 88+ points

Hitching Post Syrah 2002 Purisima Mountain. Reminiscent of a top-flight Cote Rotie, it is no wimpish wine at 14.9% alcohol, but I loved its raspberry, cassis, floral and tapenade notes, medium to full body, fine ripeness, and supple tannins. Enjoy this seductive Syrah over the next 6-7 years. 89+ points