Making wine at Husch is a hands-on job: Winemaker Brad works with Yotilde to "punch down" the fermenting must of pinot noir. This process provides a gentle mixing of the solids (skins, pulp, seeds) and the grape juice.
next peek: Morning at the Winery
Morning at the Winery
Winemaking starts early at Husch, when the cool of the early morning is best for the wine.
go back: Punch-down the Pinot
"Most importantly our wines showcase 'the fruit'. To us, our wines are an extension of our farming heritage," says 3rd Generation family member Amanda Robinson Holstine. Having been pear and grape farmers for three generations, winemaking was a new endeavor when the H.A Oswald family purchased the winery in 1979. All Husch wines are estate bottled, which means we control every step of the winemaking process, from growing to crushing to bottling.
Comprising more than 50% of the total production, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are well-known Husch wines. These wines are produced using a variety of methods, from whole-cluster pressing and direct-to-press methods to the traditional method of soaking the juice with the skins overnight. All of our production methods are tailored to produce the highest quality wine from each vineyard lot. The fermentation is started in stainless steel tanks, but once the sugar level has decreased to about 15°Brix, select lots are then racked to barrels to finish fermenting, which can take from two to six weeks reaching a maximum temperature of 60-65°F. For the Chardonnay, French and American oak barrels are used, with about 20% new barrels used each year.
The Sauvignon Blanc is produced in both stainless steel and barrels, which adds complexity to the blend. The Gewurztraminer and Chenin Blanc are vinified in a straightforward style, focusing on the flavors of the grapes. Slow, cool fermentation done between 50 and 55°F allow these flavorful varietals to shine. Gewurztraminer is picked when the grapes take on a rosy hue and the floral rose and cinnamon flavors are intense. Chenin Blanc is allowed to ripen "until it gets ugly." Raisins and sunburn are signs the grapes are mature.
In the cool of the early morning, the Pinot Noir grapes are picked by hand into half-ton bins. Red wines are fermented with the skins from which they derive color, flavor and tannins. After separating the berries from the stems, the fruit is gently crushed and pumped to open-top bins for fermentation in one ton lots. During fermentation, the skins will rise to the top of the bins to form a "cap." In order extract color, flavor and structure, the cap is punched down by hand twice daily, keeping the skin contact area large. The fermentation is completed in 5 - 7 days, reaching peak temperatures of about 85°F. With all wines, but particularly Pinot Noir, moving the wine during all stages - from fruit to finished wine - should be done as carefully as possible to avoid shocking the wine. For this reason, we gently transfer the wine to the press with large hoses and with buckets by hand. The Pinot Noir is aged in French oak barrels for 12 to 18 months to create wines preserving the cherry - berry fruitiness of the varietal with soft tannins that allow the wine to be enjoyed right away.
Although Husch is renowned for its Pinot Noir, our Cabernet Sauvignon, grown in the warmer Ukiah Valley bordering the Russian River, has become established as a consistent value. Deep blackberry and plum flavors, rounded out with spice and supple tannins make this a wine to be enjoyed without having to cellar it for years before it becomes drinkable. The fruit arrives at the winery still cool and once crushed, the must is pumped to stainless steel tanks for several days of cold-soaking before being inoculated with yeast to begin fermentation. Once the wine is dry, it is allowed to sit on the skins for an additional 10 - 28 days. This extended maceration allows the tannin structure to change as daily tasting of the wine attests. Once the winemaker decides the optimum level of tannin has been attained, the wine is pressed and aged in oak barrels for 18 to 24 months. We use a blend of American and French Oak barrels for the Cabernet Sauvignon to achieve a final blend that integrates the oak without dominating the fruit.
In recent years, we have been focusing our effort on developing our Reserve Wine program. Our winemaking and viticultural teams have identified vineyards which produce wines of distinct character. Not coincidentally, these are among the oldest vineyard blocks on the ranches, with vines bearing less, but more intense fruit. In the winery these lots are kept separate, aged longer and bottled to be distinctive.
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 5pm
Mailing Address: PO Box 189, Talmage, CA 95481