Hudson Winery: A new gem in Carneros
You don’t think the region needs another winery… until you do! I had the chance to visit Hudson Winery, the newest Napa winery located in Carneros at Hudson Ranch. It is stunning. They have set a new high bar for hospitality, winery architecture, and beauty. I now can propose the perfect Carneros itinerary for visitors (or for locals if we can get them to embrace recreational wine-tasting. Why don’t locals go wine tasting for fun? This might be a topic for a future blog post…) Here is an itinerary for “The Perfect Carneros Day”: Start with a champagne tasting at Domaine Carneros, head over to lunch at Boonfly Cafe, followed by a visit to the Di Rosa art collection, and end with an afternoon wine tasting at Hudson Ranch and Vineyards (or a combination of these four). I certainly plan on doing this itinerary with my next visitors!
Lee and Cristina Hudson, the dynamic duo behind this project, are passionate about hospitality and high quality, even if it means slightly higher costs. They won’t cut corners. Everything here is worthy of a magazine spread, from the house-roasted nuts served at the tasting (these are famous in their own right…just google “Cristina’s famous nuts”) to the marketing materials, which are frame-worthy works of art, printed on the highest quality paper. With Lee’s Texan ranch and farming background and Cristina’s depth of experience in the slow food movement, appreciation of art and design, and her years spent in Japan, they have combined their talents for their lates, and most audacious passion project.
This winery is a testament to Lee and Cristina’s strong connection to each other and shows their great appreciation for the land they farm and the people who work alongside them. Tucked into Carneros, ( the property is noticeable by the tall and spindly flagpoles as you drive along Highway 12), the 2000 acre ranch has been owned by Lee Hudson for decades, contributing quality livestock, vegetables (purveyor to Hudson’s Produce Stand at Oxbow), and grapes to the community (200 acres of planted vines, selling to 27+ wineries in the Valley!) Hudson previously had a small tasting room on property, and the limited production wines were sold at Oxbow and served at local restaurants. This new winery, a dream finally come true for Lee, will really bring their brand to the forefront, allow them to increase production, and firmly anchor their deserved spot on the Carneros wine map. I predict it will become a must-visit winery on any itinerary.
The architect behind all this is Ned Forrest, along with his partner, interior decorator, Leslie Whitelaw. Forrest has been working with the Hudsons for years on this property, and designed their stunning residence and ranch buildings. The aesthetic of the winery is clearly meant to be beautiful through its simplicity, and is what you could imagine would be the offspring if a Japanese temple were to merge with a Texas ranch! Only three materials were used throughout the winery: shot concrete, steel, and some wood finishes, yet the effect is warmth and serenity. The inner courtyard, a rock garden enclosed by the winery on one side, and three separate tasting rooms, has the peacefulness of a Japanese rock garden, with cacti instead of banzai, while the tasting patio has expansive vineyard views all the way out to the bay.
A tasting of 5 different vintages can be reserved for up to 8 people at one of the three private tasting rooms; two of these have the indoor/outdoor experience and are semi-private and cost $60 per person, while the third tasting room has an intimate living room feel, with a very special fireplace, and is more secluded with a VIP per head price of $125. If you have a chance to try one of their highly rated chardonnays, the Old Master (cab franc) or the Syrah, you will not be disappointed. Other notable offerings include a light grenache, called Pickup Sticks and some other interesting whites. Clayton Kirchoff, has been contributing to the wines since 2014, and has already received a lot of recognition and accolades for these wines, and now that he is the head wine maker, I am sure the wine program will continue on this track.
The winery is open by appointment only 10-5pm Monday through Saturday. They are closed on Sundays.