With balmy evening breezes blowing, standard aloha attire and ukulele playing musicians in the
background I must be at a luau right? Well not exactly. I’m at a barbecue hosted by the HASR
Wine Co. in downtown Honolulu with Judd and Holly Finkelstein of Judd’s Hill winery and the
ukulele toting musician is none other than Judd Finkelstein himself.
The story started over 30 years ago when Art and Bunnie Finkelstein left Los Angeles to start
Whitehall Lane Winery. During the late 1980s when production exceeded 30,000 cases, Art
found himself involved more in management of the winery than winemaking and decided to sell
his interest in Whitehall Lane Winery and promptly started Judd’s Hill winery. Judd’s Hill winery
devotes itself to handcrafted, small production wines where father and son now make all of the
Along with producing about 3000 cases of wine every year, the Finkelsteins also have been
operating MicroCrush for about 15 years. The MicroCrush operation allows small growers and
everyday wine lovers to bottle their own wine. You can be as hands-on as picking your own
grapes and determining your own blend to letting the Finkelsteins doing it all for you. They
handle the paperwork, procure the grapes, oversee the fermentation, aging and bottling for lots
as small as 1 barrel (24 cases) or as large as 5 barrels. They may refer you out to larger operations
like the Napa Valley Wine Company for lots larger than 5 barrels since those require some
mechanical processing and the Finkelsteins prefer hand made products. So if you have at least ½
ton of grapes hanging on the vine, MicroCrush can handle the rest.
The HASR Wine Co courtyard provided the perfect backdrop to an evening of great food, great
wine, great music and camaraderie. The evening started with Judd’s Hill Chardonnay and Rose
which unfortunately is only available at the winery tasting room. Judd’s Hill mainly
concentrates on Cabernet, Petite Sirah and Pinot Noir so you do need to visit the winery for
those “other white wines”. Judd said that the blend in their Rose varies from Cabernet to Syrah
to Sangiovese and is usually from the saignée or unfermented grape juice that is “bled” out of
the fermentation tank before fermentation begins (to concentrate flavor compounds in the
wine) from their own wine, sometimes it’s from the winemaking they do at MicroCrush.
“Tiny bubbles, in the wine…”
Judd’s Hill Rose
A delicate nose of strawberry, cherry and a touch of boysenberry. Light bodied with a touch of
sweetness and nice acidity. Would pair nicely with spicy Asian cuisine.
“makes me happy, makes me feel fine..”
Judd’s Hill Chardonnay
With a nose of lemon curd in a buttery crust, this medium bodied Chardonnay would pair with
herb marinated roasted chicken or pork.
The Bold and Beautiful
Once our dinner of fried chicken, barbecued ribs, hot potato salad, steamed corn, cole slaw and
barbecued beans started, a steady stream of Judd’s Hill red wines were sampled.
“Tiny bubbles make me warm all over…”
Judd’s Hill Pinot Noir 2004
Asian spice on the nose with anise, clove and ripe red fruit. Medium body with cola, dried
strawberry and good acid. Would pair with braised Asian spiced lamb shanks, short ribs and pork.
“with the feelin’ that I’m gonna love you till the end of time”
Judd’s Hill Petite Syrah 2002
Still very tight with hints of dark red fruit with good concentration and chewy tannins.
Definitely needs decanting if you can’t wait 3 to 5 years to let it settle. Can stand up to the
boldest of grilled red meats.
“So here’s to the golden moon, and here’s to the silver sea…”
Judd’s Hill Cabernet Sauvignon 2001 and 2002
The 2001 had the classic currant and red fruit overtones with slightly chewy tannins and a long
finish, the 2002 had hints of dried sage and thyme on the nose with dried red fruit and softer
tannins with a nice balance and medium finish. Decant both about 1 hour before pouring
though the 2002 is very drinkable now while the 2001 could use another year or two.
“and mostly here’s a toast to you and me…”
Judd’s Hill Estate Red 2001
Made with the usual Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc, it had a
nose rich with currants, spice and dark red fruit. The palate was just a little tight suggesting
another couple years of aging or decanting 1 to 2 hours before serving. Fruit and tannins were
nicely balanced with a long finish.
Some Enchanted Evening
Along with the great wine and food, the evening was rounded with music from Glenn Medeiros
and impromptu serenading by Eddie Kamae who was just inducted into the Hawaiian Music Hall
of Fame. The HASR Wine Co regularly schedules wine dinners as well as free wine tasting on
Tuesday and Friday evenings. When visiting Napa Valley, I recommend a trip to Judd’s Hill
winery off the Silverado Trail – it does require an appointment though the Finkelstein ohana is
more than accommodating and you may be treated to an impromptu ukulele performance and
hula by Judd and Holly.
HASR Wine Co Judd’s Hill
31 N. Pauahi Street #1B 2332 Silverado Trail
Honolulu, Hawaii 96817 Napa, California 94558
(808) 535-9463 (866) 438-5833
Barbecue and Wine with Judd’s Hill & Company