Wednesday, July 11, 2012


Hudson River Valley red has always been one of the most popular wines produced by Huson-Chatham Winery. Both a revolution in it's blending and in it's packaging, the wine has been a major hit. Winner of several gold medals for it's quality and taste, the wine always won the People's Choice Award for 2010 for it's label depicting the Hudson River. Every year the Hudson-Chatham winery chooses a new paiitng form the Hudson River School of Painting for the label to it's flagship table red. The wine was recently featured in the New York Times.

Hudson River Valley Red 2011 is a change of blend, combining Baco Noir, Chelois, Leon Millott, Marchel Foch, and Merlot made in a ripasto style (Italian and Spanish style), meaning it combines grapes (some of which have already been pressed once before) to add flavor, texture, and complexity. It is a light bodied red, with bright cherry and vanilla aromas. The wine was aged in French oak for six months. It is a great food wine, with bright acidity and medium tannins, it is a beautifully balanced wine with lots of fruit up front, but a bright, dry finish that lingers on the palate.

This year's label celebrates the Hudson River Sloop with one of the Hudson River's most famous painters, Francis Augutus Silva, who painted dozens and dozens of canvansas with the Hudson stretched out across them. Hudson-Chatham Winery worked directly with the Brooklyn Museum to make this fantastic painting available for this special edition of this wine.

Francis Augustus Silva (1835-1886)
Born in New York City, Francis Augusta Silva was forbidden to paint artistically by his father so he became a successful sign painter. Unfulfilled, at the outbreak of the Civil War, he enlisted in the New York State Militia, serving until 1866. Soon after the war he listed himself as 'artist' in New York, devoting himself to marine views. He was made a member of the Water Color Society in 1872, and of the Artist Fund in 1873. Essentially self taught, early success awarded him the privilege of exhibiting with the National Academy of Design, the Brooklyn Academy of Art and the American Institute of Art.

He was most prolific in the 1870s. He painted extensively of the Hudson River, including scenes at New York Bay, Haverstraw Bay, The Palisades, near Kingston, and near the Catskills. Traveling frequently to his favored locations for subject matter, Silva's works often show both New York and New London harbors, Westchester, Narragansett Bay, and a single known western work of Lake Michigan. Later in life, he traveled to Venice, creating marine views there. Around this time he arrived at his mature style, often directly compared with the "vigor and breadth of Winslow Homer".

“Silva, a New Yorker born in 1835, served as a captain in the Civil War before embarking on his artistic career, which ended with his death from pneumonia in 1886. It is interesting to contemplate his paintings against the background of war and the accelerated postwar industrialization,” wrote journalist Ken Johnson in the New York Times, on June 7, 2002, referring to a retrospective of the artist’s works.

Just before his death, Silva was one of a several artists who had been feted at the Lotos Club in New York City in February of 1886, where a good selection of his works was on exhibit. The Lotos Club, one of the oldest literary clubs in the United States, was founded on March 15, 1870, by a group of young writers, journalists and critics, which at that time was located at 149 Fifth Avenue at 21st Street.

According to his obituary in the New York Times, April1, 1886, “He had rooms in the Studio Building, on West Tenth Street, but his wife and family lived at Long Branch, where the painter was accustomed to pass much of his time. He had been sick for a short time only.”

“Silva's touching scenes of sailboats floating on peaceful New England waters or the Hudson River, irradiated by the ruddy light of rising or setting suns and populated by lonesome, contemplative figures, are less realistic depictions of modern life than consoling fantasies of divinely sponsored retreat and convalescence. Images of rougher seas or, in one of the most compelling pictures, a thunderstorm breaking over the Hudson near Nyack, only add other dimensions to a hopeful if bittersweet vision of natural beneficence,” continued Johnson.

His luminous paintings are appreciated for their 'meticulous realism' with a tranquil atmospheric element. In his manipulation of color while avoiding 'artificial prettiness', he instead intensified the genuine effects of nature while expressing personal emotion. Silva became known as one of the leaders in the American Luminist movement, of the second generation of the Hudson River School. However, Silva is rightly also considered alongside foremost American seascape artists A.T. Bricher and William Trost Richards. Silva represents the pinnacle of American sea painters.

The painting chosen for the label was “The Hudson at the Tappan Zee,” 1876. Oil on canvas, 24 x 42 3/16 in. (61 x 107.1 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Dick S. Ramsay Fund, 65.10. It was chosen because the painting features a Hudson River Sloop.

“Sloops greatly affected Hudson River Valley commerce, specifically through the late 1700s and early 1800s, thus impacting American development as a whole,” wrote Blaze Interligi in the Spring of 2009 in a research paper entitled “Hudson River Sloops.”
“The sloop has a single mast with a fore and aft rig placed further up on a shallow hull. They ranged from sixty to even one-hundred-and-forty feet at the largest, depending on the type of sloop,” continued Interligi. “On the Hudson, owners and shipwrights made specific adaptations to the sloop for Hudson River navigation. For example, they utilized red cedar for the sides and white oak for the bottom because the red cedar could withstand exposure to the elements better than the oak, but oak has the ability to hold up against the rocks and sand of the Hudson Rivers.

Similarly, upright masts enabled quicker lowering of sails to prevent the often sudden strong gusts of wind from blowing the craft out of control.”
“A golden age of Hudson River sloop commerce took advantage of this extensive American waterway to ship between the two main centers of business on the river, Albany and New York City. Albany was geographically advantageous because through the mid to late 1700s it was at the center of trade with western territories and Native Americans. Fur, lumber, flour, and peas, all came from trade with Native Americans or even smuggled from the French. The ships were specially adapted to be large for the bulky cargo they often carried. Similarly, the river opened up travel and trade through Albany to other states northeast of New York State including Connecticut and Massachusetts,” wrote Interligi.

“Cargo was a main component of Hudson River sloop commerce but was paired with passenger travel as an equally important business for sloop operators and owners. Sloops were adapted to support passenger travel specifically because it provided comfortable and speedy transportation up and down the Hudson River…This is not to say the ships were small, the size of vessels had to be considerable because the ships could carry passengers and cargo, but these were river going ships and not oceanic vessels.”

The Sloop Clearwater
In 1966, folk music legend and environmental activist Pete Seeger, in despair over the pollution of his beloved Hudson River, announced plans to “build a boat to save the river.” At the time, the Hudson was rank with raw sewage, toxic chemicals and oil pollution; fish had disappeared over many miles of its length. Seeger believed a majestic replica of the sloops that sailed the Hudson in the 18th and 19th centuries would bring people to the river, where they could experience its beauty and be moved to preserve it. Inspired by that vision, the organization began with the launch of the sloop Clearwater in 1969 —a majestic106-foot long replica vessel. Clearwater, America’s Environmental Flagship, was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 2004 for its role in the environmental movement, and is among the first vessels in the U.S. to conduct science-based environmental education aboard a sailing ship, creating the template for environmental education programs around the world. More than half a million young people and hundreds of thousands of adults have experienced their first real look at an estuary’s ecosystem aboard Clearwater.

The mission of Clearwater is to preserve and protect the Hudson River for the benefit of its eco-system and human communities while creating new environmental leaders for a sustainable future.

Read more about Hudson River Sloops at:
Read more about the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater at:

Previous labels of Hudson River Valley Red:




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