Category Archives: Blog

Behind the Bar Series: Rick

Rick Leiti of Cape May Point has only been on the Hawk Haven staff for two years but his interest in wine runs deep.

Leiti is originally from Delaware County, Pa., and spent a lot of his twenties working in an office. Eager for a change in scenery, he took some time off to work in Peru.

“That was where I really discovered wine,” he said.

Leiti eventually returned to the Philadelphia area to be close to friends and family. At the time he returned to the area there was a burgeoning wine scene.

“I wanted to be a part of what people were growing and learning about the industry,” he said.

He went to Auburn Road Winery, where he started working part-time in the tasting room. As he gained experience there, his interest in the wine industry grew, and Leiti decided he wanted to invest more time at the vineyard.

Eventually he increased to full-time, working in the vineyard, as a liaison between their wine retail locations, in the wine cellar, and managing the tasting room on weekends.

When Leiti met Seneca Reiley, they moved to Cape May County to start their life together (and will soon be married in Costa Rica, April 2017!).

Leiti asked the advice of the owners of Auburn Winery where they thought he should pursue he wine career locally. They pointed him in the direction of Hawk Haven Vineyard.

“The first thing that I really connected with was their amazing wine,” said Leiti. “The next thing was the vibe there. Todd and Kenna are working tirelessly to create amazing wine and surround themselves with a staff that is as passionate about their vision as they are.”

At Hawk Haven, in addition to working in the tasting room, retail outlets and working in the vineyard, he also does the winery tours.

“I love interacting with the public and educating them about all the amazing wine that is made here,” he said.

Leiti said that on the top of his list of dreams is to one day own his own winery. But for now, he is enjoying learning all he can and helping make great wine at Hawk Haven. He recently received a certificate from Wine & Spirit Education Trust and noted that there is always something new to learn.

“For the better part of my twenties, I spent so much time not knowing what I wanted to do. Then I found my passion is wine and it gave my life a direction,” he said.

When he isn’t working, Leiti enjoys relaxing with his favorite Hawk Haven bottle, Quill. 

Cheers Rick!

Behind the Bar Series: Celine

We at Hawk Haven firmly believe that you should find something to celebrate in every day, and as it is her birthday, today we are celebrating  the hat-wearing, wine-loving, people-charming Celine!

Hceline-winetastingailing from Northeast Philly, Celine met her chef husband of almost 30 years when she was still an Archbishop Ryan Ragdoll.  A graduate  of West Chester University, Celine went to work for the railroad, marketing transportation to food & agriculture shippers.  It wasn’t  long after Celine moved to Warrington, Bucks Co., PA that she  suddenly found herself facing a breast cancer diagnosis .  A mother of two little boys then, she  was determined to turn lemons into lemonade.  Immediately focusing her attention on cultivating a healthy lifestyle, she pursued her master’s in health education and her health & wellness coach certification.  Now, when Celine’s not in the Tasting Room or mingling on the crush pad, you’ll find her teaching healthy eating classes at Bucks County Community College or hard at work for a leading healthcare company.

Celine fancies herself a world traveler, and what makes her hair 35944_144287892264787_1938330_nfly back the most is following her rock star heroes around the globe to take in concerts in exotic places.  One lucky lass, she’s had the good fortune to be in Dublin, Ireland twice when Bruce Springsteen was performing.  And, as Rod Stewart’s #1 fan, she’s even traveled to Scotland to see him perform at Edinburgh Castle!

Celine achieved “rock star” status herself when she landed every college kid’s dream job!  She had the honor of strolling Sesame Street as the first Big Bird character during the Sesame Place Theme Park’s debut season.

Thrilled to become one of the cast members of Hawk Haven’s Season 5, Celine started pouring in our Tasting Room in April 2013. A desire to learn about all things wine set Celine on a path of discovery.  She toured many wineries until she found just the right mix of vino & vibe.  When she met our proprietors, Todd & Kenna, she knew Hawk Haven was the real deal!

Hats off to Celine! You may notice that she dons a hat every weekend. In fact, you'll never see her wear the same hat twice. So where does a lady keep 100 hats? In the bathtub, of course!
Hats off to Celine! You may notice that she dons a hat every weekend. In fact, you’ll never see her wear the same hat twice. So where does a lady keep 100 hats? In the bathtub, of course!

Celine’s favorite Hawk Haven bottle is any one she has on  hand to give to a friend.  She used to give fudge from the shore as her calling card; now, she loves to give Hawk Haven wines and regale friends and family of stories from the winery.

Her favorite thing about working at Hawk Haven is getting to mix and mingle with our extraordinary patrons — every person, without exception, who crosses the threshold of Hawk Haven comes seeking pleasure.  When the day is done, Celine always leaves with a smile on her face, happy to have shared her passion for wine with fascinating, like-minded people.

Her advice to other wine drinkers: “Be adventurous!  Don’t be married to one varietal.  Love the wine you’re with, but keep trying new things!  And never take yourself (or your wine) too seriously! Drink whatever makes your hair fly back!  Sláinte!”

Hawk Haven Happenings

Winter is in full swing here at Hawk Haven.  Just a little over a week ago, we had about 7 inches of snow!(Don’t worry oenophiles, our vines lie dormant for the winter months.)  While the vineyard is at rest, the staff has some extra time on their hands.  What to do?  We think it’s the perfect time to host a few cold weather adventures in wine tasting!  It’s a chance to get to know our staff and really experience what makes Hawk Haven special!

This past weekend, we held our Annual Cellar Tasting.  Wine Maker Todd Wuerker took a short break from his winter wine making tasks to pour some of his favorite cellared wines, and wow, they are amazing!  These are wines that were released and almost sold out.  A few cases are stowed away for safe keeping and you guessed it, a rainy or snowy day.  Some favorites from the event were the 2014 Signature Series Reserve Chardonnay, the 2008 Merlot (a small taste of heaven), and the Governor Cup winning 2012 Signature Series Cabernet Franc.  Be sure to keep an eye out for this event in the future because you do not want to miss out on these hidden gems again!  We are extending the sale of these special wines online through midnight on Tuesday, January 17thSee our online store for details.

Now, we set our sights on the month of February for three very exciting weekends.  The first will be held over Valentine’s  Weekend, when we host the Wine & Chocolate Wine Trail Weekend.  Visit our romantic tasting room and enjoy a wine tasting paired with gourmet chocolates.   Since one weekend definitely is not enough for wine and chocolate, we will continue the wine & chocolate pairing through President’s day weekend as well!  See the Special Events page on our website for details.

The last weekend in February we will host the much anticipated Futures Sale.  We invite the public to purchase futures of our soon to be bottled wines at a discount.  The sale includes a selection of our 2015 reds and 2016 whites.  Limited quantities of the wines will be available for pre-sale at a DISCOUNT during the weekend of February 25th & 26th.   If you live in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, or Florida, we are offering the option to SHIP them direct to you before the official release date.  If you live outside those areas or if you prefer to visit our tasting room, we are offering a PICK UP option as well. 

Wine Club members are invited to participate in an exclusive barrel tasting during the Futures Sale.  Wine Maker Todd Wuerker along with his wine making staff will be using an instrument called a “wine thief” to offer samples of wine straight from the barrels where they are aging.  Learn about the wine making style of the Hawk Haven Vineyard dream team as they walk you through their process and labor of love.  If you are not a Wine Club member, you can become one by making a qualified purchase from our tasting room

If you can not make it out to any of these events, don’t sweat it!  The Tasting Room is open everyday from 11am-5pm and 11am-6pm on Saturdays.  Stop on by and get a taste of our newest release, the 2014 Quill.  Each vintage of Quill has provided new and exciting flavors and a different take on our Bordeaux-style blend.  This latest vintage is composed of 54.5% Merlot, 23% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Cabernet Franc, and 4.5% Malbec.  Wonderful aromas of cinnamon, blackberry, cherry, and tobacco leaf grace the nose, cherry and raspberry flavors on the palate and a nice finish of baker’s chocolate and vanilla.  The 2014 Quill is well worth a visit to the tasting room soon.

We are counting down the days until warmer weather, but until then join us for some fun this winter!

Healthy Eats and Fine Wine

Ah, the New Year is upon us and many are preparing their New Year’s Resolutions.  Whether that be to revisit an old friend (the gym) or start a restrictive diet plan, most health related resolutions are often not kept after a month or two into the New Year.

But, we have a proposition for you…

Why not make a few healthier meals a couple times a week and start being a little more active each day and you can still live the life you want to live?  Perhaps a life that still involves wine…

We kicked off the healthy eats train a little early with a Roasted Chickpea Ratatouille courtesy of Love and Lemons.  To make it more interesting, we paired it with our 2014 Signature Series Tempranillo. Aged for 18 months in French Oak Barrels with mocha and cinnamon spice on the nose, chocolate-cherry flavors and long vanilla tannins on the palate, the Tempranillo is easily a favorite among staff and customers.  Naturally the Tempranillo was a perfect pairing for the ratatouille, which called for a medium-bodied Spanish red to compliment the fiery roasted vegetables.

What ingredients will you need for Roasted Chickpea Ratatouille?  I just about quadrupled the recipe, but if you’re not feeding an entire army, then these ingredients will be enough for about 2-3 meals.

  • 1 medium sized eggplant
  • 2 roma tomatoes
  • 2 zucchini/yellow squash
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion
  • 1/2 can of Chickpeas
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Red or White Wine Vinegar
  • Dried Oregano
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Fresh Basil
  • Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1 Cup Quinoa
  • Optional: Feta Cheese (I highly recommend a generous sprinkle on top of your plate) and/or Kalamata Olives
  1. To start off preheat the oven to 425 degrees, then begin chopping up the eggplant, tomatoes and zucchini/squash into 1 inch cubes.  Chop the onion into long strips.
  2.  Combine all of the chopped veggies and chickpeas onto a pan with olive oil, salt, pepper, and oregano.
  3. Roast the vegetables for 25-30 minutes.  In the mean time, put the quinoa and 2 cups of water on the stove in a medium sized pot.  Bring to a boil and then cover and let simmer for about 20 minutes or until quinoa is fluffy and all the water has been absorbed.
  4. Take the vegetables out of the oven and sprinkle the garlic and several pinches of red pepper flakes on top.  Then, splash 1-2 tablespoons of red or white wine vinegar over the vegetables and pop them back in the oven for another 5 minutes.
  5. Plate the quinoa and the veggies and sprinkle some fresh basil and feta on top of your plate.  Compliment the yummy flavors of the veggies with the 2014 Tempranillo.


Here’s to a happy and healthy New Year!

Looking Towards the Future, Looking Towards Wine

Regardless of who you voted for, we can all agree that this election season has been quite exhausting.  Right up until they announced the victor and our new leader, we were all feeling mentally drained and on edge.  Now, we can celebrate the end and here at Hawk Haven we choose to celebrate with the very thing that got us through this election season… Wine!  wine-meme

Wine has been a faithful friend during those late night debates and grueling conversations with certain friends and relatives that are never afraid to tell you their opinions of your political views.  Personally, I was gripping my glass throughout the night as reporters repeatedly exclaimed it was “Too Close to Call.”  That is all over now though, and therefore we should all rejoice that we are on the other side of what seemed like a never ending  tunnel.

For your sake and your sanity, we’d like to prescribe you with bottles and bottles of wine.  Stock up for yourself or take a peace offering, and by that we mean a bottle of fine wine, such as ourCellar20 2014 Talon, to a friend or relative that you might have butted heads with over the election.  Talk about things other than the election and laugh over the tension that was once interfering with your relationships.  A good bottle of wine and good conversation might be exactly what you need to happily move forward.

You could even cook a great meal to accompany your wine selection.  We suggest a nice and comforting hearty pasta dish for dinner, especially if you’re pairing with the 2014 Talon.  This Tuscan Styled blend will accompany a meaty dish such as a bolognese or a cheesy pasta bake such as this Italian sausage and kale dish.

Maybe you want to throw a small wine gathering with your friends to celebrate a return to normalcy.  Here are 3 quick suggestions and tips for your potential gathering…

  1. Make it a BYOB:  This way you don’t break the bank purchasing your favorite wine, but you can celebrate each other’s differences in tastes when it comes to wine
  2. Be Sure to check out great wine and food pairings (such as the recipes above)
  3. Find a really fun playlist to play at the party such as this election day distraction playlist or play a movie that you and your friends love that is sure to provide a good laugh

Hawk Haven WinesAs the election hype drags on, try not to stress over things you can not change.  In time, we will heal the nation’s divide, but what better way to start than sharing some wine and good times with those you love.  Whether, you are celebrating or mourning the outcome of this election, have pride and poise in your own beliefs and just enjoy the brief break from this headache inducing election.  You can stop by the Hawk Haven tasting room any day from 11am-5pm to pick up your prescribed dose of wine.   We are certain that wine will do wonders for the soul. Cheers Everyone!