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Wishing for Water

How is the drought affecting Husch? This is a frequent question we hear from our visitors. Husch is very prepared.

In 2008, we dry-farmed our estate Gewurtztraminer, and it turned out to be a favorite vintage. Since then we built a new, larger storage pond. After each winter rain the dormant vines get a nice drenching and the pond fills up. Vines continue to be irrigated with the pond water; allowing the ground water-table to saturate. With water saturation all winter the vines manage to thrive with minimal irrigation during the summer.

We are by no means out of the woods. Long-term drought effects remain unknown. We can get by each year, but we are seeing smaller berries and less overall fruit. Harvest 2015 began two weeks earlier. The warm summer kept the vines moving along and ripening the grapes at record pace.

Fortunately, winemakers Brad and Jeff report that the quality is there with intense and mature grape flavors. They wish for more grapes and more water, but will work with what Mother Nature has provided.

Sustainability at Husch
Certified Fish Friendly Farmers

We work hard to keep our hillside soils on the hills and out of our creeks and rivers. In the Anderson Valley, we stopped tilling soil for weed control over 30 years ago. Instead we use a flock of sheep to mow the grass and compact the gopher holes. Beneficial insects live in the ground cover that carpets the rows between the vines.

In the vineyard we have metered our water use for over 15 years and each year we discover new ways to save water. In the winery we use water-efficient barrel-washers and ozone to disinfect and clean. In the tasting room we use a 90 second cycle high heat glasswasher to clean our wineglasses.

Half of our property is planted to winegrapes, while the other half remains in its natural state. This preservation allows birds, insects, and other critters to enjoy their natural habitat. We have 5 owl boxes throughout the property to help reduce our rodent population.

We prefer organic applications in the vineyard unless the organic approach would result in more erosion, water use or energy use. We weigh each decision, considering what is best for the land and what will allow our future generation to farm for years to come.

In the Vineyard: Viticulturist Al White Discusses Uber Vines

At Husch’s Garzini Ranch in the warm Ukiah Valley we had a small parcel of land that needed new vines. After much debate about what to plant (some family members wanted Chenin Blanc, some rallied for Zinfandel) the winning selection was Cabernet Sauvignon. We had the opportunity to trial a new type of rootstock, the Uber Vine. (No, not the ride-sharing kind!)

For years growers planted a stick of rootstock in the ground and grafted the desired grape variety on it after it rooted and started to grow. Then the nursery industry took the tedious task and performed the grafting and rooting on a bench in a pot. Now the grower could plant that in the field and continue with the task of training it up a stake and onto a wire.

For the life of the vineyard, the grower needed to sucker all the shoots that sprouted from the trunk each spring.

Then came the "Uber Vine". This is a vine produced in the nursery with the disbudded rootstock being 36" long and the graft at the top. When the Uber Vine is planted in the vineyard, you have a clean sucker-free trunk with the graft union just below the fruiting wire. No more training up the stake, no more suckering every year. The biggest questions remains, "What took so long to come up with this idea?"

Tasting Room Improvements

If you have visited Husch in the past 6 months, you may have noticed something shiny on the ground in the tasting room...it was the sun reflecting off our new white oak floors. After a lifetime of carpet, our beloved little pony barn got a rustic spiffing up. We called on our local wood working friends, Dan and Ann to suggest what could be done. Dan studied the old growth redwood walls, checked out the grapestakes tasting bar, then turned to the wine barrels and said, "this is it." Matching the same wood used to make wine barrels, the new floor is a perfect fit. While the floors were installed (about a week) the tasting room was set up in the winery. Visitors had the opportunity to sip award-winning wines amongst the large stainless steel tanks and stacks of barrels. In the end, we are thrilled with the outcome of this small upgrade. People ask us all the time to never change our tasting room. Rest assured it will remain the same small, rose-covered pony barn it has been since we opened for business in 1971.

A Legacy To Remember...Richard A. Robinson

We usually like to announce new additions to the family as we grow from each generation, but inevitably we lose members along the way. Our fearless leader, Richard Robinson (1949-2014) ran the family business throughout the 80s and early 90s and was instrumental in passing the business from the 2nd generation to the 3rd generation. He created the Priority Release Program, which remains one of the first wine clubs in California. His early retirement allowed him and his wife, Beelu Oswald Robinson to pursue many interests. He was a grape grower, pear farmer, Husch winery owner, clinical psychologist, professor, Sparks electrician, national swimming official, Americana music buff, Guatemalan dental helper, marathon runner, Baja bum, loving husband, father, grandfather, uncle and son. Pancreatic cancer concluded his life much too early. We miss his fun newsletter articles and positive energy at the PRP picnic. His signature black beret will remain a staple at the Husch tasting room.