This library includes stories and photography created by those inspired through their experiences at Hudson Vineyards and Ranch. Rich and textured, these stories help to define our culture here.
Raising a 4-H farm animal can change your life – it requires daily attention and an enormous effort. I support these kids in hopes of building a better community by ensuring their education.
Chardonnay is a grape variety that is known for its versatility and range of wine styles. With Chardonnay, a winemaker’s choices significantly influence wine style and flavor. What follows is an exploration of three different styles of Chardonnay, all of which I enjoy tremendously, and each of which represents a unique style along the spectrum of California Chardonnay.
The Hudson Vineyards Napa Valley Chardonnay, made by Christopher Vandendriessche, is made in a style with lengthy oak aging in mostly new barrels with full malolactic fermentation. The FEL Anderson Valley Chardonnay, made by Ryan Hodgins, is barrel fermented in all or mostly neutral oak with no or minimal malolactic fermentation. Also featured is the Three Sticks Origin Chardonnay, made by Don Van Staaveran in a style with no barrel fermentation and no malolactic fermentation.
Christopher Vandendriessche, winemaker for Hudson Wines, works along with consulting winemaker John Kongsgaard who makes outstanding Chardonnay for his eponymous label. Hudson makes one bottling of Chardonnay each vintage, its Napa Valley Chardonnay.
“The Hudson Chardonnay is blended from four estate blocks of in-house selected ‘shot Wente’ clones at Hudson vineyards in Carneros. These shot Wente heritage selections were selected at Hudson and nearby Hyde Vineyards for deep complex flavors, minerality, and high acid at harvest. The four distinct blocks are in two separate micro climates, allowing me to blend each vintage for maximum complexity and balance,” explains Christopher.
Working with the intensely concentrated, tiny berries of the shot Wente selection, Christopher chooses gentle pressing and a severe press cut to avoid extracting too much tannin and coarse, overly fruity flavors. Night-picked fruit is gently whole cluster-pressed, as quickly after harvesting as possible, on a long Champagne-style press cycle. Hard-pressed juice is kept separate and often de-classified immediately.
A light dose of Sulfur is added after approximately six hours, once the juice has a chance to brown. Each block settles separately for 6-12 hours at 50°F to 60°F. At the end of settling the tank is pumped over without aeration to thoroughly distribute all but the heaviest sediments and barreled down immediately.
Christopher chooses to conduct the fermentations with no added yeast or bacteria in 80% new 60 gallon French oak barrels at 45 gallons/barrel, primarily from the Damy and Francois Freres cooperages using oak from a variety of tight grain forests. Fermentation typically takes three to five days to initiate and can last from three to fifteen months. Barrels are topped to 59 gallons as ferment slows, typically in November or December.
Like the other two Chardonnays mentioned, the Hudson Chardonnay ages with its lees. However, for this wine, the Chardonnay remains in the same fermentation barrels on the primary sediments until a couple months before bottling, which is after nineteen to twenty-one months of aging. Stirring is done weekly for the first six months and then slows to every two to three weeks for the following eight to twelve months.
According to Christopher, ‘Malolactic is also indigenous and typically starts during primary fermentation and lasts from three to twelve months and is complete at bottling. The first post fermentation sulfur addition is typically added around fourteen to seventeen months after the harvest. The late sulfuring is to allow the gentle oxidative removal of primary fermentation fruitiness to let the underlying terroir and Chardonnay varietal character to shine through.”
Blending trials take place with several tastings over the course of two to three months, starting six to eight weeks after the first post fermentation sulfuring. The final blend in assembled in tank three to six months before bottling. For Christopher, “If we bottled earlier the wine would be much oakier and lack silkiness. We wait to bottle until the wine has softened and the oaky flavors have been subverted by the natural intensity of this shot Wente Chardonnay.”
With stony minerality and dense flavors of apple, quince, and toasted brioche, there is some creaminess on the wine’s palate, but also mouth-watering racy fruit, grilled almonds, and vibrant acidity resonant of lemon zest.
“It’s impossible to separate the vineyard and clonal interaction here. The heritage selections were developed in this vineyard to produce racy, complex, deep wines with impeccable natural balance. Fermentation and elevage are designed to show off this unique heritage. I am more concerned with balance and elegance in mouth feel than with richness, but our tiny, tiny berries and large sediment load in the barrel combined with the prolonged stirring result in plenty of richness for our style…the extremely long fermentations maintain a dissolved carbon dioxied and stirred sediment load that allow the wine to very slowly lose primary aromas while protecting the core flavors of terroir and varietal that we value most,” shares Christopher
–Remi Cohen, Author
Vineyard & Winery Management Magazine
For the Hog Killing
Let them stand still for the bullet, and stare the shooter in the eye,
let them die while the sound of the shot is in the air,
let them die as they fall,
let the jugular blood spring hot to the knife, let its freshet be full,
let this day begin again the change of hogs into people, not the other way around,
for today we celebrate again our lives’ wedding with the world,
for by our hunger, by this provisioning, we renew the bond.
© Wendell Berry
Collected Poems, 1957-1982. North Point Press,
SanFrancisco, 1985. Originally published in A Part, 1980.
A hair before sunrise found me shivering in the heavy, damp cold of early morning at a tidy farm in the vine-covered hills above Napa Valley.
My pig already chosen for me, One-Shot John put her down quickly; quietly, even. Captain of the last mobile slaughter unit in Sonoma and well deserving of his humane moniker, One-Shot John services small farms in northern California. His custom-built truck of doom negates the need for cows, sheep, goats and pigs to be herded long distances to a slaughterhouse, which causes great stress to the animal; a tragedy for both soulful beast and its meat. While putting stress on a vine produces exceptional wine grapes, the same cannot be said for the pig’s pork loin, the cow’s hanger steak, or the lamb’s rib rack.
One-Shot John washed the porcine’s 250-pound body in a large, mobile tub and shaved her clean; the skin pinkish and glistening. Hoisting the massive girth over his shoulders, he strung up the beast on an old iron gambrel, steam rising from thick haunches now aglow in the first rays of sunrise.
Cursing my decision to wear a sweater instead of one of my many bedraggled sweatshirts, I busied myself collecting the pig’s blood for boudin noir, bagging the heart and liver for frying, and crudely rinsing the endless rope of intestine for sausage. Before the sun had even shown its warmth to the valley before us, the pig was eviscerated, cleaned, and split in half. She hung for two days in the farmer’s walk-in refrigerator, amidst iron baskets overflowing with green and blue-shelled eggs laid by fancy, heirloom chickens, and flats of just-picked lettuces, their ruffled leaves begging to be nibbled naked.
While the pig aged in the chiller, we prepared for the days of work ahead. Spices were purchased from a tiny, specialty shop in Berkeley, its hippie vibe exemplified by the braless chick with dreads who weighed out my first-rate peppers, powders, and seeds. The casings were packed in salt and shipped from upstate New York. Our knives and cleavers were honed on Japanese stones of varying textures, and plywood boards were bleached and laid on top of the marble kitchen island where we’d butcher. A thick stack of clean towels was at the ready and the cool of the porch would serve as refrigeration.
Both enormous halves of the beast, now solidified from the cold, traveled from farm to table in my butchering partner’s white Lexus SUV.We started early and finished late, studying porcine butchering charts, and pouring over blood and grease-spattered cookbooks for spice mixtures, weighing out ingredients on an ancient scale. We listened to bluegrass, drank green tea and smoked hash. But mostly, we butchered; fingers numbed from the frigid meat, we barely made out the muscled edges of each cut. Measure twice, cut once. My antique meat saw, with its fine walnut handle, was outvoted in favor of an electric hand-held, its whirring noise and splattering of bone shards disconcerting.
Roasts, ribs, and loins were vacuum-sealed and labeled. Bones, ears, trotters and tails were kept for stock and soup. Chunks of pork and fat were separated and bagged for making sausage later in the winter. The belly and cheeks were slathered with spices and curing salt to rest for a couple of weeks before being hung to dry, alongside the two thick hind legs. Heartbroken in prior years by mysterious cases of ravaging molds, or from a heavy-handed salting, we decided to once again attempt to create the perfect prosciutto-style ham, a year plus in the making.
My feet hurt and my arms ached. The floor was greasy and flecked with pieces of meat and bone. I glanced down at my bloodied apron and flashed on the thick-necked butchers I’d seen in New York’s Little Italy, who’d step outside for a smoke and gawk at women on their lunch breaks.
After scouring most of the grime from the kitchen, we wearily sat and enjoyed the fruits of our labors. Bitter greens from the garden were wilted with garlic and fresh pork fat. Finger-sized slices of pork loin were quickly fried in a hot pan and dressed with nothing more than flaky salt. The cork was pulled from a 1990 Barolo, its dusty rose and cranberry acid a perfect foil to the richness of the farm fresh meat.
–Lisa Minucci, Author