Some might say Bryan Van Deusen of Hudson-Chatham Winery was born and bred for his current role. Not in the way that perhaps a family winery passes through the generations and how their children are often groomed to one day take the helm, but rather in the way that while many of us were on family vacations to the beach or amusement parks the Van Deusen clan would head to wine country.
His parents love of wine (are you reading Lenn and Evan?) clearly influenced his youth and as you’ll see from this week’s edition of our “5 Questions with…” feature has also framed his career choice as well.
Today Van Deusen is the General Manager and Director of Operations at the Hudson Valley winery and his scope of responsibilities is vast to say the least. From managing production, moving and topping barrels in the cellar, bottling and labeling to tasting room administration, ordering and inventory, event coordination and sales.
Bryan wouldn’t have it any other way however as he learns from doing and tries to gain as much as he can from each and every experience. He started in the tasting room at Hudson-Chatham five years ago with only a computer art degree in hand and has learned on the job growing right along with the winery.
Hudson-Chatham has a very ambitious growth strategy for the coming years and Van Deusen hopes to be a key component in their success. Bryan sees his role continuing to evolve and would like to focus more on sales and distribution of the brand throughout the East Coast.
What was the first bottle of wine you remember drinking — and where did you have it and who were you with?
I was lucky to be raised with wine aficionado parents. At an early age they would allow me to try wine during parties they hosted. It definitely takes a while to acquire a palate, so I definitely was missing out on getting the full experience. The first specific bottle I remember drinking was after my high school graduation, it was a 2001 Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley. That was an amazing bottle.
When did you know that you wanted to be in the wine industry?
I actually fell in love with wine way before I could drink it. When I was nine, my parents took the family on a trip to the west coast. Napa Valley was on the to-do list, especially for them. I fell in love with the amazing vineyards we visited. The beautifully managed rows of vines, the gorgeous tasting rooms and wineries, I was hooked. Some of my fondest memories from the trip were just me wondering through the vineyards.
What do you wish were different about the New York wine community and industry?
My biggest regret about the New York wine community and industry is the lack of knowledge about good New York wines. New York has a strong history of winemaking but unfortunately not a lot of people take it seriously. Either they have tried one or two bad New York wines and gave up, or they have been sticking to what they like. Whichever it is, it has led to a bad reputation. In reality, it’s actually quite the opposite — New York wines are definitely on the rise.
When you’re not drinking your own wines, what are you drinking?
When I am not drinking our wines I tend to stick to other New York wines. I like to think of myself as a good chef and I love to pair wines with food. Whatever I am having for dinner dictates what wine I open. In general I like deep dark reds the best, so I like to try different New York baco noirs, merlots, cabernet francs, etc. There are some great New York wines if you look for them.
If you could only pick one grape/wine/producer to live out your days with on a deserted island, what would it be?
If I could live out my days with only one grape it would be old vine zinfandel. As I said before, I love heavy bodied, dark fruited wines. Zinfandel fits that perfectly, and if I had to stick to just drinking that, I would be very happy.