Friday, October 21, 2011

Horses in Unusual Places, Vol. 2

By Kitson

On a recent trip to Whole Foods, while I managed to resist buying a slice of bacon, egg and cheese pizza that looked pretty good, I couldn’t get past the bottles of wine with an eye-catching horse image on the label. I’m not much of a wine drinker, but those beautiful wild horses in reds, yellows and blues sealed my impulse purchase on aisle six. I could give the wine as a gift or serve it to a thirsty guest, I assured myself. I finished shopping, grabbed a bag of overpriced carrots for the ponies and headed to the checkout, comforted to have had my thoughts redirected to horses in the grocery store.

When I got home my reporter’s curiosity led me straight to the winery’s website ( Based in Washington State, the winery’s name, 14 Hands, was inspired “by the spirit of the wild horses that once freely roamed the starkly beautiful hills of Eastern Washington.” That sounded cool, I thought, but what I liked best (since I can’t speak to how the wine tastes) is that they also support a non-profit wild horse sanctuary in California called Return to Freedom. Here’s what I found out about the winery after chatting with Erin Shane, who works for 14 Hands:

K: What sparked 14 Hands to be named after horses and help support real horses?

14H: Wild horses have roamed freely in eastern Washington for more than a century.  It is their unbridled spirit that ultimately served as the inspiration for 14 Hands wines – the winery name being a reference to the average height of these horses.

We believe that horses are special animals, and that in every horse there is an untamable spirit. While researching the many issues facing wild horses today, we managed to come across the Return to Freedom organization – a non-profit sanctuary in California that is home to more than 300 horses released back to the wild. Neda DeMayo, the founder of Return to Freedom, and her team have managed to build one of the premier sanctuaries in the country. Ultimately, it was their vision and their commitment to their cause that attracted us to them as a partner.

K: Why Cynthia Samson for the logo art?

14H: We fell in love with Cynthia’s “Wild Horse” painting from the first moment we saw it [K: me too!!!]. Her vision for art is unique in that she incorporates bright, vivid colors to her subjects. These colors, combined with her style of painting, impart an energy and vividness that immediately captured our attention. It was this energy that we felt related so well to 14 Hands: these wines showcase bold, fruit-forward flavors that are both elegant and powerful, and are truly exciting in their own way. [K: Check out more of the artist (and one wonderful green cow) at]

I couldn't paint this still life, so I took a picture.

K: What has been the best part of connecting 14 Hands' wine with the history of horses in Washington?

14H: Consumers’ receptiveness to our wines has sparked an overwhelming response to the brand.  We are thrilled that we have the opportunity to bring a broader awareness to the wild horses of Washington State, as well as the chance to celebrate the spirit of horses everywhere.


  1. I love your wine. I run a small boarding facility for retired and aged horses. When one of our boarders dies, I make sure to clip a piece of mane or tail and attach it to a bottle of 14 Hands for the grieving boarder who has lost their equine companion. This has become a tradition at Big Heart Ranch, Illinois.
    Wende Corbett

  2. I'm going to have to get me a bottle!