40 Vintages for Husch Pinot Noir
Back in the late 60s/early 70s a dilemma arose for Tony Husch as he prepared to plant his Anderson Valley vineyard. It wasn't warm enough to grow either Cabernet Sauvignon or Zinfandel, so what red grape should be planted to complement the Chardonnay and Gewurztraminer vines? Tony made the crazy choice to plant Pinot Noir.
These days Pinot is one of the most popular wines, but in the 70s the opposite was true. Most established California vineyards were ripping out Pinot to make room for Cabernet or Chardonnay. Pinot was hard to grow, the wine was challenging to make, and the public didn't want to drink it.
In 1971 the Pinot Noir budwood was purchased and Husch began the tedious process of grafting the dormant buds onto thriving rootstock in the field we call the "Knoll".
The Knoll is perfect for red grapes given its shallow soils and open exposure. The grafting went well and by 1973 the first crop of Pinot Noir was harvested. Pictures from that first harvest depict a haphazard affair. The crew was a mix of friends, hippies looking to earn free wine, and a few "real" employees who worked at the winery.
On some days not enough grapes were picked to make up for the amount of wine consumed. On hot days it is still rumored that the pick crew showed up "clothing optional". Remember, this was 1973.
Nobody realized it at the time, but history was being made. By proving that Pinot can be successfully grown in the Anderson Valley, Husch set the stage for others to follow suit. As neighboring vineyards established, they too chose Pinot Noir as their red grape.
The 1973 vintage was released to the market in summer 1975. On the plus side Husch was one of the hot new brands in the Bay Area. On the negative side: the wine was pricey - $5 per bottle - and the winery advised buyers to cellar (not drink) the wine for several years.
In 1979 when our grandfather HA Oswald purchased the vineyard and winery from Tony Husch, he was thrilled to have Pinot Noir as a part of the portfolio.
Husch traditionally produces three popular Pinot Noirs which highlight the beauty of this finicky grape: The estate Pinot Noir, Reserve Pinot Noir, and the Knoll Pinot Noir.
However, in celebration of our 40th Pinot Noir vintage winemakers Jeff and Brad elected to split the Reserve Program by highlighting two well-known Anderson Valley vineyards. Therefore we have a 2013 Valley Foothills "Reserve" Pinot Noir and a 2013 Ferrington Vineyard "Reserve" Pinot Noir. The 2013 Knoll Pinot Noir is slated for release in mid 2017.
1 bottle of each
2013 Estate Pinot Noir $25
2013 Ferrington Pinot Noir $38
2013 Valley Foothills Pinot Noir $38
Special Sampler Price:
$79 plus $1 shipping & tax
No additional discounts apply.
VINEYARD NEWS: Barn Owls and Water
We have a long relationship with owls. They have respectfully graced our vineyards for years. The four owl boxes strategically placed throughout the vineyard provide a special place for Barn Owls in particular. The owl houses are plywood boxes and have an interior divide to keep predators at bay, as well as a high entrance to keep the young owls inside when pushing to be fed. We recently found one of these fledglings on the ground. Our cellar worker Rigo gently placed her safely back in her box.
The pile of bones shown in the photo to the left is a testament to the advantage of housing owls. They naturally keep pest and gopher populations down. As a result our vineyard workers have fewer sprained ankles while tending the grapevines.
A wet winter set the vineyard up for a gorgeous spring and sun soaked summer.
Rain, finally! After several years of extreme drought, the Anderson Valley received a proper soaking this winter. We used the abundance of water two-fold, first we allowed the rain to naturally soak our grapevines and fill up our two vineyard ponds. Second, once each rainstorm passed, we drained the ponds by irrigating the grapevines - all in attempt to restore the groundwater table. Then we waited for the next storm and repeated. Our efforts paid off. The grapevines are thriving and cluster counts and weights are up from last year. We are hopeful for a repeat performance of the winter weather pattern.
Photo to the left: Our drenched Gewurztraminer field adjacent to the tasting room.
New Winemaker Toys: A Destemmer, A Press, A Pump
With harvest approaching Winemakers Jeff and Brad are scurrying to prepare the winery for the upcoming crush. The harvest equipment maintenance is in progress and we are diligently sterilizing bins, tanks, pumps, and hoses.
We welcome three new toys, the first being El Caballo de Plata (the silver horse - shown left with winemaker Jeff). Every new addition to the family of wine equipment must be named. It might be the set of 4 sleek stainless steel legs, or the fact that our cellar workers ride it like a horse, or maybe both, but it is our pleasure to introduce "El Caballo". This new destemmer-crusher, is more than a one trick pony, as it will provide the ability to customize our destemming and crushing protocol to best match each varietal. Additionally we will now be able to destem and crush directly into our ¾ ton fermenters, allowing gravity and not pumps to do all the hard work. This new crush pad addition will be a fixture for years to come. If you visit the tasting room in September you may see it in action.
We also welcome a new grape press to work in conjunction with our existing tried-and-true 3000L UP Wilmes press located in Ukiah where we vinify our Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc and most of our Chardonnay. During the last few drought years we’ve noticed that harvest has compressed into a narrow window of optimal ripeness. Hence the need for increased daily press capacity during the onslaught of crush. The new MAS press is essentially a super-modern version of our existing German-engineered membrane open press. Its larger volume (5200L) will allow significantly more processing during the crazy years when we have a hard time keeping up with the ripening curves. It will also allow a gentler pressing of whole clusters. We are happy to have the supplemental capacity available: it spells quality improvements. We haven’t named her yet (we’re waiting for our first press), but perhaps Muchas MAS, the Hindenburg or La Ballena.
Along with these modern tools, we also received a gift of winemaking history from longtime family friends Mr. & Mrs. Logan. The Logans came across this antique wine pump on a trip to France in 1985. It is a double-action piston pump, dating perhaps from the late 18th century. The brass work was forged in Lyon while the pump was manufactured in Montpellier. It was something so special that they couldn’t pass it up, even though getting the pump back to the States was arduous. It was dismantled, hauled in the back of a tiny European car, and then repackaged to go through customs. The pump has been in upstate New York for a number of years, but the Logans decided Husch was a fitting home for such a treasure. They dismantled it once again, and loaded it up for the cross-country journey to Mendocino County. We are so grateful for this hand-delivered piece of winemaking history.
Winery & Tasting Room: 4400 Highway 128, Philo, CA 95466 1-800-55-HUSCH (1-800-554-8724)Hours: We are open 7 days a week from 10am to 5pmMailing Address: PO Box 189, Talmage, CA 95481