I had the opportunity to visit Hudson Ranch & Winery on Monday, located in the scenic Carneros region of the Napa Valley. What I discovered there was so exciting! Christina and Lee Hudson (owners) are the embodiment of living off the land - they make everything, which I find personally inspiring.
While I waited for the others to arrive for our tour, I sat at one of their picnic tables and took in the glorious view of this pond that Hudsons created years ago. The 2000 acre property was purchased in 1981 and had very few trees, no vines and no buildings. How it has changed during this time. What has not changed, I am sure, is the natural beauty of their amazing site.
I can't possibly describe everything I saw, so I'm going to share a couple of my takeaways from the very cool things they are doing in their vegetable garden.
We began with a tour of the vegetable garden by walking through a tomato arbor. Yes - a tomato arbor! Each 7' tall stake within the arbor is about 8" apart from the next and each tomato plant has one stem that splits into two, growing up in parallel on two adjacent stakes until it needs to round the corner and climb along the top. They must have 20 different varieties of small tomatoes that are easy to see and pick. Next year, I must be much more disciplined about training my tomatoes like they have done, cutting off extraneous shoots.
The other take-away for me was the way they trellised their cucumbers and large tomatoes, which I've known I need to do. They have rows of 6' hog wire flanked by stakes, upon which their cucumbers and larger tomatoes are trellised. How easy it is to access the vegetables and fruit when they are trained this way, not to mention the great sun exposure for the fruit and vegetables. I must figure out how to do something like this next year in my own garden...
The pièce de résistance was this long arbor of hanging gourds, a specialty of their amazing head gardener, Leo. As an aside, he is a world class large pumpkin grower (as in 2000 pounds large), so it is easy to see his touch throughout the garden that the Hudsons have created. There are super large species of not only gourds, but squashes as well.
Hudson Ranch is primarily a winery, growing 17 different varieties of white grapes, including some Spanish and Italian varieties they are curious about. 95% of what they grow is sold to other wineries, but they do use the remaining 5% to make their own wine.
When in the area, stop by the Oxbow Market in Napa to buy produce from Hudson Greens and Goods. They have intentionally extended their lines of business to keep valuable employees at the Ranch busy throughout the year, which is honorable. Vicki is a regular there, as she lives closer to the market than I do. I may have to become more of a regular... You will see all of their beautiful produce on display as well as many other wonderful surprises, knowing how special the Hudsons are.