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The Whirlwind Harvest of 2014 Displays Exceptional Result
This year’s crush kept us on our toes. The drought year brought concerns, but ultimately we ended with an epic harvest. Surprisingly the first pick started with Chenin Blanc on August 26. This is the first time in a decade that we have started with Chenin Blanc. Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay are typically the first grapes to come in. However our winemakers Brad and Jeff rely on Mother Nature to dictate when the time is right. Once the grape flavors have developed, the skins softened, and seeds mellowed - it is time to pick.

This year there was no "easing into" harvest. The first load of grapes was followed quickly with the second and third until we realized that we were mid-way through harvest. It wasn’t even September yet!

Our grapes grown in the Ukiah valley matured evenly with no surprises. Better yet, our newly-built winery offered few surprises as well. There were some issues with the electrical 3-phase rotation, night-air cooling fans, and crush pad flow patterns. Overall it was a fairly smooth first harvest at the new winery.

Over in the Anderson Valley our Pinot Noir came in about 2 weeks earlier than usual. The quality of this year’s Anderson Valley fruit is in line with some of our best vintages. However we brought in about 20% less fruit than last year’s bountiful harvest. The smaller crop size appears to be a result of the drought and resulting changes in the vineyard. We can work with less fruit, especially since the quality is stellar.

Jeff decided to crush a few bins of Pinot Noir grapes in the traditional way - barefoot. Tasting room visitors got a treat watching Jeff and Waverly stomp grapes on the crush pad. Brad was nowhere to be found for this project, as he was busy in Ukiah barreling down the Renegade Sauvignon Blanc.

Both wineries (Ukiah and Philo) were in full operation simultaneously. This meant no rest for the winemakers and cellar crew. Starting at the crack of dawn and continuing until nightfall is standard during harvest. Weekend work is a given and we only hope for a Sunday off to rest, recover and catch up with family. However most Sundays were spent with punch-downs, pump-overs, and racking. And, yes, the winemakers live for this time of year! It is their idea of fun.

Harvest wrapped up three weeks earlier than usual. Cabernet Sauvignon came in Oct. 3rd followed by our final pick of Late Harvest Gewurztraminer on Oct. 10th.

Brad sums it up, "It’s been a while since we’ve had such a compact harvest, with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Gewurztraminer all ready at the same time, then Cabernet comes knocking on the door...having Jeff on-board to share the winemaking duties made it seamless."

It Happened One Night: In the Vineyard at Husch

A lively conversation starts with, "It happened one night…" Our winery foreman Raul had installed a new drip irrigation line in the vineyard about one month prior. Each time he went to check on it the line had been damaged. We couldn’t figure out what was causing the trouble. Family owner Zac suggested a simple fix, "Let’s get out the spy cam." Much to our surprise we documented some surprising
nocturnal activity. The evening started out quiet with sweet quail and cute jackrabbits. Then a pesky skunk came around, followed by a raccoon. Things were getting interesting as we recorded a grey fox making its way in front of the camera. The skunk returned with another skunk and together they danced almost as if they knew the camera was recording. Just when we thought we had seen it all, a large bobcat raced across the scene. All of this activity recorded within a nine hour period at a single location. We identified the culprit responsible for the damaged drip line - it was the bobcat, in the vineyard with his sharp claws.

Enticing New Release Wine
2013 Old Vines ZINFANDEL
Grown at our historic Garzini Ranch in the warm Ukiah Valley, Husch’s Old Vine Zinfandel is one of Mendocino County’s treasures. These 60+ year-old gnarly vines produce low yields with intense flavors. When perfectly ripe, the grapes were hand harvested and meticulously sorted. This vintage was fermented in open top vats and then aged in French and American oak barrels for 9 months. Raspberry, blackberry and chocolate aromas waft from the glass, while bold fruit flavors add to a lingering finish. Consider pairing this wine with tomato-based pasta or a mushroom bacon burger with bleu cheese. 680 cases produced.

Harvest Dates: Sept. 28-Oct. 7, 2013
Sugar at Harvest: 23.5° - 24.1° brix
Total Acid: .63 grams/100ml
Alcohol: 14.4%
Retail Price: $25.00

Since its debut in 2000 our Renegade has developed a loyal following. Continuing in its wild tradition, we use the native or “renegade” yeast to ferment this wine from start to finish. We believe this technique gives the wine additional complexity by allowing yeast strains to rise and fall to complete fermentation. The wine aged four months in barrel adding a round and rich mouthfeel. The 2013 growing season yielded fruit with good concentration and flavor. Look for aromas of melon, wild fennel, vanilla and a hint of spice. Enjoy it with fresh oysters, zucchini bisque, or chèvre-topped crostini. 488 cases produced

Harvest Dates: September 16-17, 2013
Sugar at Harvest: 24° brix
Total Acid: .58 grams/100ml
Alcohol: 14.2%
Retail Price: $18.00

2013 Vine One CHARDONNAY
The Vine One Chardonnay was established back in 1979 when our vineyard manager Al White recognized a single aromatic Chardonnay vine amongst the rest. Since then, the original Vine One budwood has been grafted to over 5,000 vines to produce an exceptional Chardonnay. The grapes were hand-picked at first light and then pressed as whole clusters to preserve the fresh flavors. The juice was fermented in stainless steel tanks with a small portion in oak barrels. The 2013 vintage has aromas of peach and pear complemented by flavors of stone fruit and citrus. Pair with pork tenderloin. 487 cases produced.

Harvest Dates: September 11-22, 2013
Sugar at Harvest: 23.1° - 23.2° brix
Total Acid: .66 grams/100ml
Alcohol: 13.9%
Retail Price: $18.00

Husch Employee Highlight:Which wine are you?

Who: Eric Jun
Position: Customer Service
Employment at Husch: 4 years
I would choose our Chenin Blanc. It’s lighthearted, zesty with a touch of sweetness...a fan favorite.

Of note: We say goodbye to Eric this month as he leaves to manage his family’s Korean BBQ restaurant in Garden Grove. He will be missed!

Who: Amanda Robinson Holstine
Position: Family Owner
Employment at Husch: since birth
When I’m out running I always say I am powered by Husch Sauvignon Blanc. There seems to be a hole in my glass when I’m served this refreshing wine.

Who: Pat Arnerich
Position: Controller
Employment at Husch: 6 years
Our Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon and I have a lot in common - we both do well sitting down and improve with age.