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


"HOMETOWN" is an early bottling of our Santa Barbara cuvee and showcases the delicious fruit of young Pinot Noir. This three valley blend is made from grapes we source from vineyards near Los Alamos, Santa Maria and Sta. Rita Hills.


A blend of Santa Maria Valley and Sta. Rita Hills vineyards, our Cork Dancer displays a rich, dark fruit profile with balanced structure and body that pairs perfectly with our grilled meats.

Sta. Rita Hills

Fiddlestix and Rio Vista Vineyards comprise this vintage that exhibits earthiness and Christmas spice undertones typical of the Sta. Rita Hills.

Santa Barbara County

For 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. The blend of vineyards can change with each vintage depending on which ones produce the best of the best for that particular growing season.

Sta. Rita Hills

"PERFECT SET" is our top barrel selection of the Fiddlestix Vineyard in the Sta. 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.

Sta. Rita Hills

A cool summer followed by a warming trend at harvest time generated a ripe flavor profile with firm structure. Juicy and delicious from Fiddelstix Vineyard in the Sta. Rita Hills.

PINOT NOIR - Vineyard Designates

In addition to our Pinot Noirs Cuvees our vineyards designates express and highlight some of the premier vineyards in Santa Barbara County. Look for these bottling’s on our restaurant wine list and on our sales page. 

Bien Nacido Vineyard
Santa Maria Valley

Julia's Vineyard
Santa Maria Valley

Sanford and Benedict Vineyard
Sta. Rita Hills

Cargasacchi Vineyard
Sta. Rita Hills

Rio Vista Vineyard
Sta. Rita Hills


Santa Barbara County

"BIG CIRCLE" is our Santa Barbara Syrah that features the fruitiness and acidity of our cool climate, combined with the body and broad flavors brought on by warm days during the ripening season, creating a full bodied and lively wine.

Santa Barbara County

"GEN RED" is our blend of grapes from several vineyards along the Central Coast. This vintage is mostly Merlot that lends roundness and drinkability, with Cabernet Franc for aromatics, Syrah for richness, and Valdiguie for spice & fruit.

Central Coast

A delicious blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc with rustic fruit and firm tannins.

Merlot 2011
Santa Barbara County 

Young aromas of currant and berries with medium body stands up well to BBQ.

Cabernet Sauvignon 2006
Paso Robles

Well aged with a soft and elegant texture, cigar box bouquets and currant flavors on the palate.


2012 Highliner, Pinot Noir Santa Barbara County
92 points, Wine Enthusiast - Matt Kettmann, October 2014

The Hitching Post team of Frank Ostini and Gray Hartley hit a home run on this Highliner, with a nose that features fried shiitake mushrooms, violet and sizzling balsamic vinegar. It boasts an elegant mouthfeel, with very round and widely expressive fruit, characterized by orange peel, olallieberry and more violet.

2012 Hometown, Pinot Noir Santa Barbara County
89 points, International Wine Cellar - Josh Raynolds, November 2013

Light, bright red.  Vibrant red berry and peppery spice scents are reminiscent of a youthful Beaujolais.  Taut and linear on the palate, offering tangy redcurrant and bitter cherry flavors and a hint of cracked pepper.  Closes on a smoky note, with silky tannins and emphatic red fruit character.  Drinking very nicely, and easily, right now. (Includes 9% Valdiguie)

2012 Hometown, Pinot Noir Santa Barbara County
88 points , Burghound - Allen Meadows, October 2014

Santa Barbara County, bottled under screwcap, 13.5%. This is quite restrained aromatically and I would guess it's due to the recent bottling though aggressive swirling does liberate pretty plum, spice and violet suffused aromas. There is a lovely texture to the rounded and generously proportioned flavors that offer perfectly good if not truly special depth and length. This agreeably rich and balanced effort was clearly fashioned so as to be approachable young. Great value. Drink: now+.

2011 Cork Dancer, Pinot Noir Santa Barbara County
91 points, International Wine Cellar - Josh Raynolds, Nov/Dec 2013

Bright ruby. High-pitched strawberry and Asian spice aromas show very good energy and clarity. Silky and sweet on the palate, offering lively red fruit flavors and a touch of spicecake. Finishes silky and long, with soft tannins that fade quickly into the wine's lively red fruit.

2011 Highliner- Pinot Noir Santa Barbara County
91 points, Vinous -  Antonio Galloni, July 2013

Dark cherries, flowers, savory herbs and tobacco all take shape in the 2011 Pinot Noir Highliner. A pretty, resonant Pinot, the Highliner shows gorgeous purity, inner perfume and density, all in the trademark, medium-bodied house style. Floral and savory notes add lift on the finish. Drink: 2013-2019. (Jul 2013)

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