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A Tale of Two Harvests

A tale of two harvests...as the 2017 harvest comes to a close I will remember it with two distinct faces. We began crush in the Ukiah Valley harvesting Sauvignon Blanc from La Ribera Vineyards on August 28th in the midst of an extreme heat spell. This condition is typical for our Ukiah Valley region. These timely heat spikes, around mid-August, usher in optimal ripeness and jump-start harvest.

Fruit quality was superb: ideal sugars with great flavors and balanced acidity. That first week of harvest on the Ukiah side, however, was brutally hot, with a few of the days topping out around 110°.

With such sustained heat spikes we harvest less fruit per day, working during the night or from first light to late morning. We need to protect our vineyard workers and ensure that the fruit is maintained cool prior to crushing. At high temperatures, the grapevines shut down and irrigation is managed to maintain fruit quality and vine health. Fortunately last year we invested in a second press so once the weather returned to normal, we were able to quickly catch-up. As the fruit ripened we could press it off during several long crush days.

On the other side of the hill, in the Anderson Valley, harvest began on September 1st with Pinot Noir arriving from Ferrington Vineyards in the warmer Boonville end of the valley, followed with a small estate Gewürztraminer pick on September 5th then our Knoll Pinot Noir a few days later. Although these dates could be considered early picks, all fruit showed exceptional ripeness with excellent flavors at relatively low sugars. For our winemaking style we were happy to embrace low to moderate finished alcohol with bright fruit flavors.

Harvest continued at a much more civilized pace in the Anderson Valley. Although the heat spell continued in the Ukiah Valley, Anderson Valley relished the coastal influence of morning and evening fog with high diurnal temperature shifts yielding a more normal harvest pattern. We picked at a moderate pace, waiting for vineyard blocks to ease into our ripeness spectrum. "Hang-time," normally a rarity during warmer harvests, was an Anderson Valley reality this year. Our harvest was completed on October 6th just a week before the wild fires.

As always, our production team worked extremely hard during the harvest: long days, never-ending work orders, non-stop barrel downs, press cycles, punch downs and pump-overs not to mention the occasional forklift flat tire and wine pump malfunction. I’m proud of all we accomplished and I know that you too will taste the excellence of the vintage with your first sip of 2017.

I’m also exceptionally grateful to my coworkers Jeff, Raul, Neme, Rigo, Jose Luis, Abraham, Chavo, Yotilde, Eddie, and our intern Chuy. It’s truly the hard work and dedication of this team that makes Husch who we are. The next time you open a bottle of Husch, please take a minute to toast our production team. Cheers! Brad

New Releases Wines from Our Vineyard to Your Table

Intense, rich and balanced come to mind when tasting the 2014 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. Winemakers Brad and Jeff taste and retaste the grapes debating about which field selections will make the reserve cut. Fermented in small batches, the wine aged for two years in tight grained oak barrels (75% new). The resulting wine is layered, elegant and structured for aging. A density of dark fruit aromas and flavors lead to black cherry, mulberry, cassis and vanilla. A lovely complement to filet mignon, beet salad or blue cheese.
Harvest Dates: Sept 20-Oct 3, 2014
Sugar at Harvest: 23.5° - 27.5° brix
Alcohol: 14.2%
Retail Price: $38.00

As the name suggests we take a "hands off" approach for our 2016 Renegade Sauvignon Blanc. Anything but predictable, this wine is made from the native or "renegade" yeasts residing in the vineyard and winery to ferment the juice into wine. We age the wine in neutral oak barrels for 4 months. This technique brings forth a soft texture which is balanced by the natural zingy acidity of the grapes. Striking aromas of lemon, starfruit, wild sage and caramel greet the nose and follow through on the palate. Pair with goat cheese, rotisserie chicken, or eggplant parmesan.
Harvest Dates: September 3, 2016
Sugar at Harvest: 23.6° brix
Alcohol: 13.9%
Retail Price: $18.00

Aromatic and delightful describes our 2016 Anderson Valley Vine One Chardonnay. It is the Chardonnay of choice for customers who don’t care for Chardonnay. After hand harvesting, the grapes were cool fermented in stainless steel tanks. Only 18% was aged in oak while the balance remained in tank to best express the unique perfume qualities of the wine and terroir. Aromas and flavors of stone fruit, green apple, lemon blossom, jasmine and limestone. Lively from start to finish, enjoy with a BLT sandwich or roasted veggies.
Harvest Dates: September 2-19, 2016
Sugar at Harvest: 21.1° - 24.1° brix
Alcohol: 13%
Retail Price: $18.00

Tradition vs. Technology: Corks

Tradition vs. Technology: Corks
Tradition or technology, which is the correct approach to sealing your bottle of wine? At Husch we believe that history and tradition are some of the most remarkable aspects of wine. Since our inception in 1968, tradition has guided and shaped our practices in the vineyard and winery. Tradition led us down the path of using natural punch corks to seal our bottles. However when we use a natural punch cork, there is a small percentage of corks that will have a negative effect on the wine quality. Cork, being a natural product, is variable by nature, just as no two snowflakes are exactly the same, no two corks are the same. The two biggest problems are what we call cork taint (that musty, wet newspaper, dank basement smell) and/or premature oxidation. When either cork taint or premature oxidation affect the wine, the quality and enjoyment are diminished. Though this is only a small percentage, the variability is the nemesis to the tradition of natural punch cork.

We don’t want most of our bottles to be great, we want ALL of them to be great. Over the past few years Husch has moved away from the tradition of natural punch cork and leaned more on science and technology. Innovations have led to the ability to break down natural cork, remove the compounds that cause cork taint, then reassemble a consistently dense cork that forms a perfect seal in every bottle of wine. It eliminates the bottle-to-bottle variance. Presuming the wine we put in bottle was great (of course it was because it’s Husch) it should also be great when you pull the cork.

So far we are quite pleased with the results of the "technological natural corks," and are yet to have a tainted or oxidized bottle. Enjoy! Jeff

Holiday Greetings

Here we are gathered outside the "lizard lounge" at our historic Garzini Ranch where we grow old vine Zinfandel, Carignane and Petite Sirah. These grapes are used for our Old Vines Zinfandel and Old Vines Heritage wines.

The fourth generation has grown up. Luke is a sophomore at Johns Hopkins University, Amelia is scouting colleges, while Mojo and Trix continue to help at the winery in between school and sports.

Brother/sister team Zac and Amanda keep the family business rolling with plenty of help from Krista (sales) and Brad (winemaking).