Step into the rich history and rustic charm of Husch Vineyards, the oldest winery nestled in the breathtaking landscapes of Anderson Valley. With roots dating back to 1971, Husch stands as a testament to the enduring legacy of winemaking excellence. But the story doesn’t end there.
Fast forward to the year 2000 and enter in the next generation.Forever etched in memory as the Y2K frenzy swept the world. It was during this time that Zac Robinson, accompanied by his wife Krista and their two young children, bid farewell to the bustling Silicon Valley and embraced a simpler, slower pace of life in rural Northern California. They eagerly embarked on a journey that would redefine their lives.
Meanwhile, Amanda Holstine, having immersed herself in the wine industry since her college days, found her path already paved. Her husband Brad, the talented winemaker behind Husch’s exceptional wines, joined her in the relocation from Monterey County. For Amanda, the prospect of reuniting with the family business, coupled with the convenience of built-in childcare support, was an opportunity she wholeheartedly embraced as a new mother.
The Husch Estate boasts a vineyard property that is exceptional in terms of climate, topography, and soil composition. Situated in what is widely regarded as the esteemed “Golden Mile” of the Anderson Valley, the location strikes the perfect balance between not excessively cold and not oppressively hot. It is a harmonious microclimate that embraces the vineyards and occasionally invites the presence of bears, adding to the allure of the land. The history of Husch is deeply intertwined with the land itself—the original Pinot Noir in Anderson Valley took place on the Husch Estate back in the early 1970s. Additionally, the winery has been at the forefront of regenerative practices since 1975, long before it became a widespread trend.
In the cellar, Husch adopts a philosophy of minimal handling, preserving the integrity of the fruit throughout the winemaking process. By minimizing exposure to oxygen, they aim to maintain freshness and accentuate the lively aromatics of their wines. This approach enhances the fruit’s purity, resulting in wines that authentically reflect their unique terroir.
Courtesy: Husch Vineyards
Among their portfolio, Husch takes immense pride in their Gewurztraminer, a wine that holds a unique and cherished place. Its history traces back to the three Gewurztraminer blocks planted between 1968 and 2005. The decision made by Tony Husch to plant this grape on this specific site has been nothing short of fortuitous. Year after year, the fruit from the vineyard blocks displays exceptional quality, reaffirming that Anderson Valley offers the ideal terroir for producing this distinctive style of wine. Managing the balance between acidity and ripeness can be a challenge, but Husch tackles it with a thoughtful approach. They carefully harvest their separate vineyard blocks over a range of ripeness levels, considering the flavors, phenolics, and acidity at play. This strategy ensures a blend that captivates the palate and showcases the unique character of their vineyards.
In 2005, Husch Vineyards embarked on the production of their Vin Gris of Pinot Noir. Initially driven by the aspiration to create a refreshing, vibrant, and enjoyable pink wine perfect for leisurely picnics, they soon discovered the intricacies involved in crafting such wines. Their approach involves a direct-to-press method, similar to white wine production, without utilizing Saignee, the process involved in bleeding off a portion of the juice from a fermentation to increase the ratio of skin contact to juice. To maintain consistency and adapt to vintage variations, Husch sources the fruit for their Vin Gris from different Pinot Noir blocks. Achieving a consistent style year after year can be particularly challenging due to the variability in color extraction resulting from vintage conditions.
As the first commercial winery in Anderson Valley, Husch Vineyards has a distinct advantage when it comes to offering high-quality wines at reasonable price points. This stems from the passage of time and the differences in farming and winery overhead costs compared to newer wineries. Remarkably, the winery has never engaged in paid advertising. This unique aspect of their marketing strategy is a testament to their commitment to authenticity and transparency. The founders have always rejected any form of monetary exchange for mentions of Husch, firmly maintaining the genuine nature of their brand. This approach has resonated with customers, establishing a strong foundation of trust and loyalty. It reinforces the belief that exceptional wines can be enjoyed by all without compromising on affordability.
While Anderson Valley has experienced notable changes, its rural and somewhat isolated location has acted as a buffer against the intrusion of corporate winemaking and profit-driven practices. In Anderson Valley, vintners like Husch still prioritize choices that are right for the wine and their families, even if they may not always align with maximizing revenue. Today, Anderson Valley stands out as a special and unique destination for wine tourism. Visitors can sense the difference and appreciate the authenticity that permeates the region.
The wines featured in the Wine Recommendations section were provided by the winery for the purpose of review. The selection and tasting of these wines were independently conducted. No compensation or incentives were provided for inclusion in the story. As always, the top priority is to provide readers with informative reporting.
Courtesy: Husch Vineyards
2020 Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley- dark cherry aromas dancing gracefully upon the nose. A melody ensues as cranberry and black cherry weave together on the palate. Boldy unveiling earthy undertones gives this wine added depth and character.
2019 Pinot Noir, Knoll- lighter bodied expression that unveils an abundance of scarlet fruit, reminiscent of strawberries and cherries. Its vibrant acidity invigorates the senses, while a delicate hint of spice adds to the allure.
2022 Dry Gewurztraminer- delights with its floral bouquet, reminiscent of a blooming garden. On the palate, this wine unveils a symphony of flavors, where the essence of citrus mingles with apricot and peach. With each sip a delicate minerality gently caresses the senses, imparting a sense of elegance and refinement.
2022 Late Harvest Gewurztraminer- sweet and exotic tropical flavors of orange, pineapple and mango imparting a juicy, succulent character on this dessert wine with some added ginger and spice nuances. The finish is long and lasting as the residual sweetness tapers off leaving a lasting experience.
2021 Chardonnay “Vine One”- possessing a crisp and dry character, this offering showcases an earthy expression of the variety. Flavors of honeysuckle and pear come together resulting in an ethereal fusion.
Located out of the Sierra Foothills of California, Joe Campbell provides color commentary as well as insight within the wine industry both from the lifestyle consumer and business segments of the industry. He can be reached via email at : email@example.com .
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