Summary: Husch Vineyards is located on Highway 128 in Philo, California. Husch Vineyards started in 1971 and was Anderson Valley’s first bonded winery. The winery produces quality wines at affordable prices.
Tony and Gretchen Husch started the Husch Vineyards winery in 1971. It is the oldest bonded winery in Anderson Valley. In 1979 the H.A. Oswald family purchased the winery and today the Oswald third generation is continuing the tradition of growing grapes and producing wine.
Today the vineyards consist of 25 acres devoted to Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Gewurztraminer. In earlier years Anderson Valley growers had tried growing red grapes but with little success. Their first early success in growing grapes was with Chardonnay and Gewurztraminer. The Husch family was successful at growing Pinot Noir, and soon other grape growers followed with plantings of Pinot Noir.
During the spring, sheep are used to keep the grass short in the vineyards.The owners believe that as long as you have a lot of insects, harmful insects cannot become prevalent. A small area of land that is too wet for grapevines to grow is located between vineyards. Plans are in the works to add native, insect friendly plants to encourage insects. The belief is that this will encourage a good balance of insects in the vineyards. Pumice from pressing the wine is returned to the vineyard as compost.
Over the years three watering systems have been used in the vineyards. The tallest one located above the vines is now only used as frost protection. A second line of watering was added at the center of the trellis system while the third line is located on the ground. In June the watering system drips water on vines that may be weak. In July the regular drip system is put into use.
The vineyards and winery use a combination of traditional winemaking and grape growing along with modern techniques. In the vineyards a small white box houses a Mildew Pressure Meter. This meter is quite new on the market. It measures the heat and humidity. The meter will register a number between one and one hundred. The closer the reading is to 100, the more likely the vineyards need to be sprayed to protect them from mildew.
In the vineyards, the owners support environmentally friendly practices in a number of ways. Most of the vineyards are “Fish Friendly” certified. Efforts are made to reduce erosion, conserve water and use organic chemicals. They also try to reduce the amount of diesel fuel used in the vineyards.
At Husch Vineyards, the owners are intent on moving the grapes from vineyard to the winery quickly and do not use trucks. Pinot Noir grapes in particular need gentle handling. Vineyards located several miles away have their own winemaking equipment. The intent is to gently move the grapes from harvest to winemaking as quickly as possible. Eliminating the need for trucks to transport the grapes reduces the time the harvested grapes sit.
Wine is fermented and aged at the Philo location. French oak is predominently used for the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. We tasted a 2009 Pinot Noir from the barrel. It was produced by whole cluster press. The wine had spice and fruit notes with tannins. Each year Husch Vineyards produces 45,000 cases.
Visitors will discover the tasting room in a small, cozy rustic building with prolific rose blossoms making a welcoming and romantic entrance.
The 2007 Vine One, an Anderson Valley Chardonnay had a fruit aroma with mineral nuances. The taste and finish was crisp. Special Reserve Chardonnay 2008 offered apple nuances on the aroma and apple with caramel notes on the taste. The wine had a smooth mouth feel. The finish was crisp with apple yielding to citrus. Gewurztraminer T-Bud Cuvée 2008 offered a floral aroma with a taste of rose petals yielding to tropical fruit. The finish was crisp and drying. The 2008 Gewurztraminer, Anderson Valley, offered a sweet floral and fruity aroma and taste. The wine dried on the finish. The Late Harvest Gewurztraminer with its residual sugar at 12.7 percent was sweet and fruity. The fruit lingered on the aftertaste.
The 2007 Pinot Noir offered a cherry and blackberry aroma and taste with a hint of herbs. The finish had tannins, was fruity and dry.
When visiting Husch Vineyards, be sure to ask about Husch recipes that pair well with wine.
4400 Highway 128
Philo, California 95466
GPS: N39º 06.423’ W123º 30.122’
Visit these California organizations and wineries that partner with Wine Trail Traveler.