Lee Hudson and his beautiful wife, Cristina Salas-Porras, poured their 2010 Hudson Vineyards Chardonnay and 2010 Hudson “Pick Up Sticks” for the enthusiastic crowd at Philippe Restaurant. Both wines are remarkable and highly praised by wine critics. My first impression of Lee Hudson was that of a happy man who loves the life he is living and is passionate about his 2000-acre Hudson Valley Ranch and Vineyards located in the Carneros region of the Napa Valley. He introduced himself as “just a farmer.” I later learned that Hudson is a native of Houston and is anything but “just a farmer.” Hudson’s youth was one of privilege. His mother, Cecil Blaffer “Titi” von Fürstenberg, was a patron of the arts and a member of a family that combined two great Texas oil fortunes. Titi was the daughter of Robert Lee Blaffer, a founder of the Humble Oil & Refining Co., now Exxon Mobil. Blaffer’s wife, the former Sarah Campbell, was the daughter of William Thomas Campbell, a founder of the Texas Company, later known as Texaco.
Hudson had all the advantages necessary to ensure failure later in life. A lesser man might have been spoiled by the wealth and celebrity of his family. To the contrary, Lee Hudson has worked hard to achieve perfection in everything he does. He strives to grow the perfect grapes, produce the perfect free range eggs, grow the perfect vegetables, and produce the perfect olive oil. He has been described by food and wine writers as a renaissance man. But if you ask Lee Hudson, he’ll proudly tell you he’s just a farmer.
Arthur Seavey, general manager of Seavey Vineyards, poured his family’s 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, 2007 Merlot, and 2009 “Caravina” Cabernet Sauvignon. Seavey Vineyards was founded in 1881 by the Franco-Swiss Farming Company and was purchased by Arhtur’s parents William and Mary Seavey in 1979. Robert Parker described the 2009 Seavey Cabernet Sauvignon as a wine that “explodes from the glass with deep, resonant fruit. Incense, smoke, tobacco and melted road tar flow effortlessly from this big, full-bodied wine. There is no shortage of fruit or tannin in this large-scaled, firm Cabernet Sauvignon.” Seavey’s wine lived up to Parker’s description last night. Located in Napa Valley’s St. Helena, Seavey has been described by the Robb Report as “one of the great hidden values among the region’s Cabernets.”