By Laura Ness
It doesn’t happen every year, but when conditions are just right, Husch Vineyards, the oldest winery in the Anderson Valley, makes a late harvest Gewürztraminer, a club member favorite from the legendary house that has been making wine since 1971.
Co-owner, Amanda Robinson Holstine, who runs the operation with her brother Zac Robinson, tells us that the entire Husch team gets involved in the process. And in the process, they get very, very sticky. All to make a brilliant bottle of sweet and craveable delight like the 2016 Husch Late Harvest Gewürztraminer, which took Best Dessert Wine at the 2020 Sunset Wine Competition.
“We only make this wine when Mother Nature allows for it. If botrytis is noted in the field, we will usually make the call. We did not make a Late Harvest Gewurz in 2018 or 2020. The special part about this wine is that every Husch employee plays a part in making it. With shears in hand, the entire Husch team (winery crew, sales team, accounting staff, admin, marketing, and 4th generation kids), come out to pick the grapes for our late harvest. It’s usually a beautiful morning, filled with laughter and sticky hands out in the field, then after all the bins are filled with the remaining fruit we sit down for a final harvest meal.”
There’s more to it than Mother Nature. The Husch vineyard team typically leaves some of the bunches tucked underneath the leaf canopy, hoping to raise fruit zone humidity, which encourages “noble rot,” aka botrytis. To push sugars even higher, the team employs a French technique called “passerillage,” in which the canes are cut, which stops water from going to the grapes. All this extra effort pays off, not just in a delicious beverage, but in the recognition that a Best of Class and Best of Show award brings.
Says Holstine, “The Best of Show ‘win’ for our Late Harvest Gewurztraminer was highlighted over the past year throughout our Direct to Consumer sales channels. We love answering emails and social media comments regarding awards from the Sunset Wine Competition! A customer may not want a late harvest wine, but are intrigued by our story and decide to sample another varietal.”
Husch recognizes the importance of prestigious competitions like Sunset in creating buzz that can amp up marketing messages to consumers. Says Holstine, “From a high profile competition like Sunset, a big win brings validation to the wines we produce. Our customers appreciate hearing about new wine awards, and the kudos from well respected judges and peers puts value behind these awards.”
And if you waited to buy this wine, you’re too late, as they are all sold out. But, happily, they did make a vintage 2017 LH Gewurz, which they are entering into this year’s competition, and they’re hoping for a repeat win at Sunset 2021. They’re also entering all their 2020’s and many of their 2019’s as well. How many will make it to Sweepstakes? Stay tuned for news in June.
For more information about the SUNSET International Wine Competition click here: https://sunsetcompetitions.