It looks to be one of the best harvests in the seven years the Hudson-Chatham Winery has been in Columbia County. The winery's home vineyard is called the North Creek Vineyard, named for the creek that is directly opposite the vineyard on Route 66. North Creek Vineyard is separated into three blocks: 1, 2 & 3. Block 1 is Seyval Blanc, among the first vines planted on the soil when Carlo and Dominique DeVito first bought the property. These vines are really just coming into their own. The estate grown Seyval (Seyval Blanc, North Creek Vineyard, Block 1) has been a huge success for the winery, and is easily considered the best white on the tasting room list. This year's crop looks not only to be the biggest crop the winery has ever pulled from the vineyard, but also the best!
Block 2 has gone through a replanting, as the winery shifts away from a number of obscure hybrids, and will focus solely on Chelois. The first third of those 22 rows has been replanted. More replanting will begin in the spring. This is a big project for Hudson-Chatham, but the goal is to be able to make more of this varietal wine in the future.
Block 3 is an exciting event!!! This will be the first season Hudson-Chatham will harvest this section of the vineyard, with the idea of making an estate Baco Noir. Baco Noir continues to be one of the most popular wines the winery makes. Baco Noir, Block 3, North Creek Vineyard will premiere next year and promises to be a very exciting release for the winery.
A big reason for Hudson-Chatham's success has been the addition of Greg Esch as Vineyard Manager. In one short season, Greg has been instrumental in putting into effect with real efficiency many of the practices we have been sowing implementing over the years. He suppressed weeds, and tall grasses, pruned, leaf pulled, suckered, hedged, and netted our vines. It's been a great season, despite some problems with disease pressure and Japanese beetles. Greg has made a great contribution this year, and we're thrilled to have him with us. He is scene on the golf cart, talking to Dominique before heading out to the vineyards.
For the record, the dark purple grapes are Baco Noir, our signature dark grape, and Seyval Blanc, our signature white grape.
This year Hudson-Chatham netted their vineyard for the first time. This was impart due to a grant received through the CEDC in conjunction with Martha Lane and Ken Flood. This netting is crucial to our harvest. It allows the fruit enough time to mature later into the season, and reduces crop losses due to bird pressure and deer pressure. The nets prevent the birds from pecking at and eating the food, and do the same for the deer. Due to the heavier pressure in the back block, we used heavier, over the top netting, also in part due to how Baco Noir grows. The front block of Seyval Blanc was protected with side panels, as that fruit is much easier to train into a fruiting zone, so side panels were applied. The grant also allowed for a new small tractor (new to Hudson-Chatham, that is) and a new sprayer. Next year's crop should be even better.
All this work goes into Hudson-Chatham's growing process for the estate wines. It's a lot of work. But the end results will be some of the most extraordinary wines produced anywhere. And it is all very exciting.