NEWS & INFORMATION
By now you've probably heard about the late frost that hit the Finger Lakes region last week. Many vineyards suffered heavy damage and Hunt Country, unfortunately, was no exception. We're still assessing the exact level of damage and it will be a few weeks before we know for sure. However, it appears that our vinifera grapes – Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay, Riesling – will be a complete loss with no harvest this year. On the other hand (and presuming there are no additional disasters) our hybrid grapes – Vidal Blanc and Vignoles in particular – will give us a reduced but sizable crop. We'll keep you posted as the season progresses.
This is the sort of weather event that every winery fears – and the sort of event that will happen more and more often with climate change. Was this recent frost part of the climate crisis we're facing? We don't know. But it's exactly the kind of extreme weather we've been preparing for by diversifying the types of grapes we grow.
Hybrid grapes (as seen in this photo) are far more rugged and resilient than their vinifera relatives. And while hybrids have historically been looked down on in the wine world, they can produce absolutely beautiful wines when given the same love and attention as vinifera grapes.
This is why we grow hybrid grapes. And this is what our Uncharted Terroir line of wines is all about: Enhancing the resilience of our farm through diversification and sparking interest in these more rugged grape varieties by experimenting with new styles and flavors that we all can enjoy.
One way or another, we are going to have amazing wine this year. And if you haven't already added Uncharted Terroir wines to your collection, give them a try!
We've been waiting for almost a year, but our new bottling line is finally up and running! And to say we're excited would be an understatement.
"This bottling line is a huge upgrade," says head winemaker Craig Hosbach. "I think the precision of this machinery is incredible – the way it's all designed, the timing – incredible!"
Suzanne Hunt, co-owner of Hunt Country, is pretty excited too. "We made this significant investment to ensure that the beautiful wines our team is producing are bottled with the absolute highest quality equipment," she says.
The bottling line components are from two different companies in France and Germany. From the time we ordered the line, it took about nine months for it to be assembled, cross the Atlantic, move through an east coast port of entry and finally land on our doorstep in several gigantic crates.
"Then we had to prep the room and bring people in to help to do set up, and that added another month," Craig says. "So from beginning to end it was about 10 months."
The first wine we bottled with the line is our 2021 Dry Rosé, which is a delightful blend of Blaufränkisch and Cabernet Franc – an absolutely beautiful wine.
"We wanted to get it in the bottle early to capture the essence of it: the aromatics, the flavors and the brightness," Craig says. "This wine is meant to be enjoyed young and fresh."
So grab a bottle and help us celebrate the newest member of our winemaking team: the new bottling line!
We are thrilled to begin 2022 by announcing that we are partnering with the Environmental Film Festival in the Nation's Capital (DCEFF) for a virtual conversation about the effects of climate change on wine and how sustainable practices and diversity in grapes can help ensure the future of fine wine. DCEFF is the world’s premier showcase of environmentally themed films since 1993 and hosts the world's largest environmental film festival every March.
"Climate change is impacting every part of our lives, including what we eat and drink," says Christopher Head, DCEFF Executive Director. "In partnering with Hunt Country Vineyards, DCEFF is hoping not only to bring attention to these effects, but also to learn from and talk about ways that we can mitigate these changes to protect our planet."
The conversation will feature Suzanne Hunt, co-owner of Hunt Country Vineyards, and will take place on Wednesday, Feb. 2, from 8:00 to 9:00 pm EST. With each "Wine and Conversation" ticket purchase, participants will receive a trio of wines from our Uncharted Terroir line of wines.
"When I lived in D.C., I loved going to this festival," Suzanne says. "Film is such a powerful medium for informing and inspiring people about the most critical issues of our time. We're thrilled to be teaming up with the world's premiere environmental film festival for this conversation."
Join us for "Wine and Conversation" with DCEFF.
The 22 members of International Wineries for Climate Action – including Hunt Country Vineyards – have signed on to an open letter released this week calling on the wine trade to take climate action.
The climate emergency is by far the most severe threat that we face as grape growers and wine producers. As world leaders convene this month at COP26 in Scotland to reaffirm their support for the commitments made in 2015 at the Paris Agreement to limit global warming, we recognize now as a critical moment in time for the wine community to voice our support for the continuation of these important efforts and take action within our own companies.
We believe that the wine trade can be a beacon of hope and action in the global response to the climate crisis – and serve as a model for other sectors.
We also greatly appreciate your support as wine lovers for everything we're doing right here at Hunt Country to be part of the solution to the climate crisis. Thank you!
This week Wine Business Monthly released its 2021 list of Wine Industry Leaders – and Suzanne, Art and Joyce made the list!
Every year, Wine Business Monthly sets out to honor those who shape the way the wine industry operates or how people drink wine. With this leaders list, Wine Business Monthly is showcasing men and women who are making a difference. It's full of movers and shakers, and there are more than a few who are dissatisfied with the status quo. Some of the influential people on this list are known to virtually anyone who follows the wine industry, while others are influential yet fly "under the radar". All of them are leaders in the North American wine business.
Hunt Country is included on the list "for leading the Finger Lakes on a variety of environmental issues, most recently in promoting sustainable measures for viticulture, enology and business management projects."
It's a genuine honor to be part of this year's group of outstanding leaders!
We are thrilled to announce that Hunt Country Vineyards is joining International Wineries for Climate Action (IWCA), a working group taking collective action to decarbonize the global wine industry. We are the first winery in New York state to become an applicant member of IWCA, and one of just 12 new applicant members from around the globe who have committed to addressing the climate crisis by taking immediate steps to reduce their carbon emissions.
Miguel A. Torres, President of Familia Torres, says that when he and Katie Jackson of Jackson Family Wines co-founded IWCA in February 2019, they wanted to act and move beyond simply talking about the urgency of climate change.
“Our goal was to gather the most environmentally committed wineries, and we hoped our initiative would work as a boost for other wineries to accelerate or start their carbon emissions reduction programs," Torres says. "It is therefore great to see that now with 12 new applicant members joining, we are more than 20 wineries worldwide. We are convinced that this will have a multiplier effect."
The Hunt family and team are proud to be part of this international group of rockstar wineries committed to tackling the most pressing issue of our lifetimes.
"We have been working for many years to address climate change in all aspects of our farm and business," says Suzanne Hunt, co-owner of Hunt Country Vineyards and an international climate policy and sustainability expert. "We're thrilled to team up with other wineries around the world who are tackling the same challenges. As a small family-run business we're able to be nimble, but as part of a larger industry effort we'll be able to develop critical mass in creating demand for products and services like lower-carbon glass bottles, packaging, and shipping options. We're excited to be able to share our own expertise and learn from the expertise of others."
The Hunt family has been farming for seven generations, crafting wine since 1981, and is one of the founding families of the Finger Lakes wine region in New York. We continue to be focused on managing our vineyards and business as part of a complete and healthy ecosystem. We produce the majority of our electricity with 348 solar panels, heat and cool with an award-winning geothermal system, provide EV charging stations to customers, focus on soil carbon sequestration and sustainable vineyard practices, and have certified some sections of the farm and vineyards organic. In 2020, we received the NY Wine & Grape Foundation's Sustainability Award.
Click here to read the full press release on the new IWCA applicant members.
The New York viticulture industry’s attempts to create a statewide sustainability certification program moved in fits and starts over the past decade or two, but the latest effort appears to be gaining momentum.
Suzanne Hunt, co-owner of Hunt Country Vineyards and an environmental consultant, has been advocating for the creation of a statewide sustainability program for years. It would benefit Finger Lakes wineries such as hers and reassure consumers who want to know which wines are sustainably made, she said.
“There’s a lot of committed growers ready to sign up once this is launched,” she said.
Forbes just featured co-owner Suzanne Hunt and some of her thoughts on how wine producers should be prepared to explain the idea of sustainability to customers.
“It is complicated. We have to be ready to explain. There is no one size fits all, we have to collaborate to make sure we minimize confusion, make it clear, but there is no way to avoid the complexity.”
When Art and Joyce Hunt first moved back to the family farm in the 1970s, their intent was to live close to the land and run a farm like the Hunt family had done for several generations before. But the decisions they made – and the circumstances that came their way – would eventually lead them to open Hunt Country Vineyards in 1981 and become one of the founding families of the Finger Lakes wine region that we know and love today.
So throughout this year, we'll be celebrating our 40-year story of crafting delicious wine in the most beautiful place on Earth.
The story of Hunt Country Vineyards begins about a decade before the winery itself was established.
In 1973, Art and Joyce Hunt moved back to the family farm on Keuka Lake to grow grapes, taking over from Art’s elderly uncle. They knew very little about running a farm, but they were certain they wanted to be here.
Art's uncle was an excellent teacher. Art and Joyce learned how to care for 18 acres of grapes. They learned how to plant and grow a wide variety of grains, dry beans and hay crops. They started a garden for themselves, with both vegetables and fruit. They learned to cut down trees for wood and handle all of the old farm tools laying around. Art even became quite adept at restoring old buildings and old equipment.
Art and Joyce also planted another 50 acres of grapes. Like numerous farmers in the area, they planned to sell their grapes to one of the biggest and well-known wine producers: the Taylor Wine Company near Hammondsport, NY.
Growing grapes isn’t like growing other crops. They require time, money, acreage and energy over several years before they ever produce their first harvest. Grapes are a long term investment.
Unfortunately, the Taylor Wine Company was purchased by the Coca-Cola company just a few years later – which changed the winemaker's operations. Art and Joyce were suddenly told Taylor wouldn't be buying their grapes. Farmers across the region were told the same thing, and the local grape market vanished overnight.
So Art and Joyce used the moment to learn yet another new skill: winemaking.
THE FIRST BATCH OF WINE
At first, Art and Joyce took part-time jobs and started selling juice to home winemakers. But they soon realized that if they really wanted to make a living, they'd need to open a farm winery and sell commercial amounts of wine.
So in 1981 they got started in a small shed that used to be a wing on the old farmhouse. They put a nice foundation under it, filled it full of barrels and started making wine – seven whites and one red.
The following spring, with the help of some friends, Art and Joyce bottled up the wine. They entered the varieties in a state wine competition and won a few awards. They also turned the same little shed into a tasting room. They added a deck, a counter, a cash register and some glasses, and were open for business.
The next year, their wines included Cayuga White, a new Cornell variety. It won the award for best wine in New York state and earned the Hunts a trip to the governor's mansion. The recognition gave Art and Joyce the courage to continue going with their winery plans.
TIME TO CELEBRATE
After 40 years, we're still growing some of the very same grapes and making some of the very same wines as when we started: Cayuga White, Chardonnay, Classic Red, Riesling and Seyval Blanc. But so much has changed as well! To stay informed about how we're celebrating our origins and the continued evolution of Hunt Country Vineyards all throughout this year, visit huntwines.com – sign up for our weekly newsletter and follow us on Facebook and Instagram.
This weekend our outdoor space is open at Hunt Country! Come join us! You can purchase wine by the glass or the bottle to enjoy under the bright, blue skies of Keuka Lake. (We're not doing tastings just yet.) Groups of six people or less may sit together, and please make sure you maintain six feet of social distance between groups. The restrooms will be open to customers but you must wear a mask when using them. You're welcome to visit during our regular hours, but we will be closing promptly at 5 pm.
We know this is a bit different than before, but it's certainly a step in the right direction – because it's going to be a beautiful weekend!
If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch by phone (315-595-2812) or email (email@example.com).
And we're still doing curbside service if you want to pick up some wine for the weekend!