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Okie roots to California vines

Oklahoma natives have quietly built Hidden Ridge to be one of the best brands in Sonoma Valley.

Greg Horton November 2nd, 2011

Lynn Hofacket was raised on a wheat farm and cattle ranch in southwestern Oklahoma. He eventually moved to Oklahoma City to work in real estate more than 20 years ago. While in the metro, he met Casidy Ward, an Enid native. The two married shortly after.

In 1989, the couple moved to California and began looking at property in the Sonoma Valley. They chose a remote site on the Sonoma side of Spring Mountain and purchased 60 acres in 1991, not even sure what they would do with the property. To this day, it’s so remote, it can only be reached by off-road vehicles.

They decided the land was best for Cabernet Sauvignon, so they designed the vineyard and cleared the land. The first release wasn’t until 2001, but the company has regularly garnered scores in the high 80s and low 90s for its signature Cabernet ever since.

Ward was in Oklahoma City in September pouring the winery’s new 2007 Cabernet at Opus Prime Steakhouse, 800 W. Memorial.

“We put it on the list immediately,” said Opus’ Bill Wilson said. “We like the Oklahoma connection, but more than that, this is just a good wine.”

On Opus’ list is the 2006, which Wine Spectator called “intense, chewy and full-bodied … flavors that are powerful and focused.” Wilson said the 2007 will be in-state soon, and Opus will have both vintages available.

“Hidden Ridge goes well with our menu,” he said. “It’s perfect with a ribeye, but it’s also silky enough that it doesn’t overpower pork or lamb. It’s a quality wine at the price point, which is right in line with local favorites like Rombauer and Silverado.”

Stan Stack of Beau’s Wine Bin, 2810 W. Country Club, said he started carrying Hidden Ridge as soon as it was available in the state.

“Casidy does a great job with the wine,” Stack said. “She doesn’t make much, and the only reason we get any is that she’s from here.”

Stack said he believes the wine’s quality is partly related to being on the Sonoma side of Spring Mountain where cooler air and mountain fruit combine to make a wine that is balanced between fruit and acidity.

“She also keeps the price reasonable,” he said. “Most people on that side of the mountain want $100 a bottle.”

Hidden Ridge is also available at Edmond Wine Shop, 1520 S. Boulevard in Edmond, and Spirit Shop, 1117 Garver in Norman. It’s a middle-tier Cabernet Sauvignon, so expect to pay $40-$50 retail, and $85 and up on a restaurant menu.

Photo by Mark Hancock

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