As promised, two pre-harvest reports for you. Last time we shared some info about DuMOL, Linked, and Inherit the Sheep. Today, our focus is on Spottswoode and Hudson. Two “big” boys and girls in the Valley. Both these vineyards would have “First Growth” and “Grand Cru” status if they were located in France.
As we are approaching the 2016 harvest, I want to give you a heads-up and share my experiences while visiting the Napa and Sonoma Valleys this last week.
After 5 years of major drought in California, we finally had a somewhat normal winter rainfall even though we had expected much more after the touted “El Nino” was announced. Unfortunately, the flooding and massive deluges never materialized yet we took all the rain we could get. I’d say the reservoirs are looking good, but we still will have to conserve as this could (again) be another drought year. Since March we have not seen a drop of rain!
Last year the drought did a number on the yields of every vineyard in the state–many are down 30-50%, and some even more–which means we all will have less wine. But the quality is exceptional! I barrel-sampled with 10+ wineries and the 2015 will be another one for the books!
I visited with a few folks in the valley – Hudson (Carneros), Linked (Knight’s Valley), Spottswoode (St. Helena), Inherit The Sheep (Coombsville, Napa) DuMOL (Russian River Valley) and came away with the following to report to you. Today PART 2 of the report – Hudson and Spottswoode.
Lee Hudson owner, John Kongsgaard winemaker
|Happy clusters of Hudson Chardonnay|
The big news I got from Lee was that he is building a winery on the site of his great vineyard, and groundbreaking is scheduled for mid-August!
Due to a temperature drop, Lee is planning to start picking August 22, which is about a week later compared to last year. Lee told me that the vintage is looking beautiful with the stars all in alignment. It’s looking early with very healthy canopies and a good average to average plus size crop. “We are very excited, rocking with anticipation,” Lee told me.
The Hudson Ranch is 200 acres and production is in small amounts. 95% of the fruit is sold to 32 other wineries, like Kongsgaard, Kistler, DuMol, etc. The principal varietals grown on the ranch are Chardonnay, Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc and Grenache, yielding on the average 2.5 – 3 tons per acre. Lee also grows small amounts of Viognier, Alberino, Arneis, Aliatico, Greco Di Tufo, Friulano, Ribollo Gialla. Verdejo and Vermintino. These are represented in areas as small as 1 to .3 of an acre each.
The vineyard is situated on a sloping, rolling area at 300 to 400 feet elevation in the Carernos region. If this vineyard were located in France, it would have “Grand-Cru” status!
I have been a big fan of Lee and his “Hudson Ranch” for years and am excited about what the vineyard has to offer for years to come. Make sure to check out the HUDSON 2013 CHARDONNAY CARNEROS
Also a few other wines worth checking out produced from this estate:
ARIETTA 2013 MERLOT “HUDSON I BLOCK” NAPA VALLEY 96 POINTS
ARIETTA 2013 VARIATION ONE, NAPA 96 POINTS
NOVAK FAMILY OWNERS, ARON WEINKAUF WINEMAKER
|The Spottswoode Estate Cabernet Vineyard|
Spottswoode is one of the venerable Napa Valley wineries dating back to 1882 when George Shonewald planted 17 acres on the 31-acre property. In 1906 he sold the property to Joseph Bliss, who renames it “Stonehurst” but sells it 2 years later to Dr. George Allen who renames it “Lyndenhurst” for the four Linden trees that grace the garden. In 1910 he sells it to Mrs. Albert Spotts who swiftly renames it “Spottswoode” in honor of her late husband. In 1916 she plants various varietals hoping that the manufacturing of alcohol would not be banned (Prohibition).
Between 1919-1930 prohibition takes hold and Spottswoode falls into disrepair. They survive by selling the grapes to the Christian Brothers (who make sacramental wine, suddenly very popular at that time!). They also grow produce, mushroom, and frogs for frogs’ legs, which were very popular in San Francisco restaurants during those years. In 1930 she gifts it to her niece, who begins to sell fruit to the St. Helena Wine Cooperative.
This lasts for several decades and in 1972 the estate is sold to the current owners the Novak Family, who still own and operate the winery.
Between 1973-75 the vineyard is replanted to Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc. Jack Novak passed away at a very young age in 1977 and Mary Novak decides to make the best of everything, officially founding Spottswoode winery in 1982. Tony Soter was the original winemaker till 1997. Since then some great winemakers have passed through this amazing property (Pam Starr, Rosemary Cakebread and Jennifer Williams. Today the wines are made by Aron Weinkauf)
|Spottswoode assistant winemaker James Revie with a cluster of 2016 Cabernet.|
After a great winter and early spring “El Nino” Spottswoode’s vineyard benefited from the generous amount of rain that fell on this gorgeous and venerable property. Everything is looking amazing at this time, with harvest anticipated in late September to early October, about a week or so later compared to 2015. The yields are looking very good, and the anticipation of great quality is there! The RED varietals have just finished veraison. The quantity will be average to just above average – but they settle for high-quality and modest yields anytime! Anticipated harvest time will be September 12th for the reds, while they will start picking the whites late August.
Check out these current releases from Spottswoode:
SPOTTSWOODE 2013 CABERNET, NAPA VALLEY – 96 POINTS!! – AVAILABLE NOW!
SPOTTSWOODE 2012 CABERNET “LYNDENHURST” NAPA VALLEY
SPOTTSWOODE 2012 CABERNET SAUVIGNON “ESTATE” NAPA VALLEY (96+ POINTS)
SPOTTSWOODE 2015 SAUVIGNON BLANC, NAPA/SONOMA