Abrazos y Besos

Abrazos y Besos

Pic taken February 17, 2014 during Hug bottling day. First bottles of our Abrazos y Besos

We hope this finds you and all your Loved ones well.
With a name like Hug…….I just couldn’t resist, the seductive call of Love.
About ten days before Valentine’s Day I posted on Facebook, the following: “Hugs & Kisses” Poetry Contest.
Let’s Bring Romance Back!” Let’s Have Fun!
I know You Are Creative & Full of Passion!
Only a few days till Valentine’s Day. Hug Cellars invites YOU to participate in our poetry contest.
I realize “Love Cannot be Explained” but…….
In Less than 40 of your original Words tell us:
Why you Love the One You Love,
What Love Is, etc. etc.
The person who receives the most ” Likes”
Will win a bottle of Hug.
Winner will be Announced on Valentine’s Day morning.
While the participants slowly trickled in, our Hugs & Kisses gained momentum. We had about 6 or 7 final participants, With the top two participants being neck ‘n’ neck, Susan William & Kathy Arias. On Valentine’s morning I announced the winner. Kathy Arias had 30 Likes and Susan Williams had 28 Likes. So we decided to gift both participants a bottle of Hug wine of their choice. This was alot of Fun and the feedback was exhilarating. I plan on making “Hugs & Kisses Poetry Contest” an annual Valentine Day event.
On February 17, 2014, starting bright and early we bottleled our most current releases. Bottling approximately 650 cases of the following wines:
Vino del Cielo
Abrazos y Besos (new Hug label).
Rancho Ontiveros Pinot Noir
Derbyshire Pinot Noir
el Magnifico
Starr Ranch Cab
el Conquistador
el Forestero
Keep in mind, that Augie and our neighbors at Barrel 27 have been doing all the preliminary work to enable us to bottle for five days prior to our actual bottling day. The bottling process includes some of these following steps, but not limited to; labeling, filling, corking, foiling, packing in cases, shrink wrapping cases, and then moving to storage.
It moves very fast, very organized and the machinery is very loud. Hopefully, this doesn’t seem too strange, but my brain works this way. I love all the shiny stainless steel and the whole mechanization process. I am in awe, intrigued and amazed with the mind(s) that invented the mobil bottling unit. The whole process is a lot of work blended with laughter, very loud rock & roll music, food and of course wine.
Augie & I always look forward to bottling the fruits of our labor. Although, it is a very intense day and we are whipped at the end of a typical 12 hour bottling day, it feels so good to “get er done.” In the end, I’m happy we only bottle twice a year.
Today, February 18, our newly bottled wine was moved to storage nearby and Augie & Romo spent all day topping.
World of Pinot Noir is quickly approaching on February 28, 2014-March 1, 2014. Randy Adachi will pour for us at this event on Saturday. They have moved the venue for the first time from Pismo Beach to Baccara Resort & Spa in Santa Barbara.
The vines are quiet this time of year, but a lot of work is being done, and plans are being made. Winter is the time for reviewing contracts, deciding on a pruning strategies, and focusing on what needs to be done for the current year. Like many, I am concerned for the lack of rain, and all its repercussions. But, at my age I also know why be concerned or worried about what I cannot control.
Next big event for Hug Cellars is Zinfandel Festival, March 14-16.
This years Zinfandel Festival couldn’t have been more appropriately named for Hug Cellars annual Wild Game Barbecue, “GROW ZiNFULLY WILD.” We at Hug Cellars celebrate with our annual “Wild Game Barbecue” on Saturday. This has become our most popular event of the year at Hug Cellars. Come and enjoy our famous Hug Cellars Wild Game Barbecue. Wild Game appetizers like duck, goose, pheasant, venison, wild boar, wild game chile and more. All paired with our newly released Zinfandel, el Magnifico.
I will write about this in our next “Barrel of Hugs.”
Keep Hugging & Loving and don’t forget to “Give Your Tongue A Hug.”

Raquel Hug
February 18, 2014


As 2013 ends, we at Hug Cellars look forward to 2014

As 2013 ends, we at Hug Cellars look forward 2014

This is how we finished up the year:
On October 24, 2013, we brought in fruit from Santa Barbara Highlands, Grenache.
On October 26, 2013, Augie and I held our Group Hug Party, which is our annual wine club pick-up party. We combined this party with our 20 Years of Hugs Celebration. It was so special to see so many people gathered together, in addition to our Group Hug members, enjoying the weather, music, food, Hug wine and each others company. Augie will typically open our older vintages for these events, and of course this was no exception. Two wines that were unanimous hits; an older 2005 Casa Mireles (my family name) Rose and 2003 Bassetti Vineyard Syrah.
Acquaintances, old & new Group Hug members, friends of many years like Michelle Rasch, Joe & Teresa Hurliman, Paul Wilkins, Prian’s, Parker’s, Fiscalini’s and Bassetti’s. all “Giving Their Tongues Hugs.” Many of these person have been influential in the development of Hug Cellars.
On October 31, we brought in the last of our fruit to finish off the 2013 Hug Harvest. We brought in Bassetti Syrah, Cedar Lane Syrah and Santa Barbara Highland Mourvèdre. To finish off 2013, we have two upcoming pourings, The Garagiste Festival on November 9, 2013. And API Pouring in Santa Paula on November 14, 2013. Hopefully you will have the opportunity to “Give your Tongue A Hug,” at either of these events.
Or if you’d rather join us to New York, we will be at the following venues:
On Thursday November 21st, at 7:00 P.M. Augie and I will be at Chadwick’s, American Chop House and Bar for a Winemaker Dinner
Chadwicks is located at 49 Front St. Rockville Centre LI . just north of the RVC train station.
On Friday, November 22 at 7:00 PM Augie and I will be at Marble Modern American Steakhouse for a Winemaker Dinner. Marble is located at 230 Jericho Turnpike, Floral Park, LI.
On Friday, November 22 at 2:00-6:00 PM Augie will be pouring a selection of Hug Cellars wines at Pequa Spirits, 5151 Merrick Road, Massapequa Park, LI.
On Saturday, November 23 at 2:00-6:00 PM Augie will be pouring a selection of Hug Cellars wines at Wine Society, 41 Northern Blvd., Greenvale, LI.
Come by and say hello, we look forward to meeting you.

As I finish this, we’ve already returned from New York. New York was exhilarating to say the least. Made new friends and in a small way I like to akin myself to Johnny Appleseed “planting seeds” of Hug.
Winding down for the year, the wines sleep and Augie and I party. Well not necessarily Salsa dancing, but this is our time to travel and savor life at a tad slower pace. Till we start the process all over again……that I yearn for. I have tried to analyze this Love and Passion I have toward the whole winemaking and wine experience. In its most visceral level, it is “Going Back to my Roots.” Of feeling and sharing moments when I am most connected to nature. And, in the process of feeling, seeing, tasting, hearing and smelling ……..I become more connected to my senses and Nature. And every time I return to my roots, I am reminded of the lessons that made me who I am and who I strive to be.
Many Blessing and Hugs to All in 2014.

Raquel Hug

Hug Harvest

Hug Harvest

On June 3, 2013 a well known vineyard consultant from this area, stated that 75 days from today Harvest starts. He was basing his hypothesis on seeing the first trucks on Highway 46 East filled with green tomatoes coming from the San Joaquin Valley. I realize he was speaking in terms of generalities, since different varieties ripen at different times. I immediately called my cousin, Mark, a tomato expert in the Valley, and we discussed this. He agreed it was pretty right on.
Hug Harvest started approximately the first week of September, so the hypothesis was pretty accurate.
Over coffee early this morning, I asked Augie what percentage of completion we were through Harvest. He responded, “we were at about 2/3 of completion.”
This is bittersweet for me. Like many in the wine industry I anxiously await the start. Bittersweet in the sense that there is a lot of work, and early mornings. Harvest days begin before dawn. Sweet in the sense, that there are those very special “Lucy” moments in the winery I wouldn’t want to miss for the world although, my true gravity pull is the vineyards, and yes, it is a spiritual experience for me. I was raised to respect the land and it will repay you back. In my previous post of “Reverence for the Land,” I failed to tell you my grandfather always had a huge garden I played in as a child with chilies, tomatoes, green onions and zucchini. My grandfather was a vegetarian in the 40′s & 50′s, before the term became “hip” and “popular. “ He religiously avoided sugar and white flour. His diet consisted mainly of beans, rice, vegetables and a few corn tortillas.
Some of my most enjoyable times are spent in the vineyards. Trying to describe a vineyard and harvest is like trying to describe nature itself. The smells of a crisp fresh morning in the vineyard are exhilarating. The colors of morning breaking……breath-taking. The smell of fermenting grapes in the winery are truly intoxicating! The whole winery has taken a purple hue, with fermentation bubbling. A fresh bin of fruit cannot arrive at Hug Cellars without me immediately grabbing a bunch of grapes to taste, those little jewels of nectar. Grape Harvest taps into all of my senses of smell, feel, sight and taste. These are the things I will miss once Harvest is over, and will just have to wait until the following year to repeat the process. During our Harvest Celebrations I always Thank the land for the fruit it bore and the bounty of the Harvest. This is very important to me, and not only a sentence on a Hallmark card.
Vino is friends, family, laughter, humor, sharing, food, memories, travel, being silly, and so much more. Without those qualities………it would be like “chorizo without the huevo. ” Simply put, this properly describe my love of wine…”I enjoy cooking with wine; sometimes I even put it in the food!” That says it all.
Here’s a time log of Hug fruit we have brought in, as of today:
9/6 Rolph Vineyard Syrah
9/7 Rolph Vineyard Petit Sirah
9/9 Boulder Ridge Pinot Noir
9/10 Rolph Syrah
9/17 Starr Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon
9/24 Rancho Ontiveros Pinot Noir
9/24 Rolph Grenache
9/30 Cedar Lane Viognier & Chardonnay
10/7 Derby Mourvèdre
And now we wait……..to receive the Blessings of the 2013 Harvest.
In the mean time, enjoy the picture of a day at Rancho Ontiveros Vineyard..

Raquel Hug
Abrazos y Besos
October 9,2013

Conqueror of Hearts

Conqueror of Hearts

We have some new t-shirts in! “El Conquistador Conquering Hearts” t-shirts are available for men and women!

conquistador- “Se aplica a la persona que consigue el amor de otra persona con facilidad.”
“applies to a person who easily obtains the love of another person.”

This definition signifies the seductor, and when we tasted this wine we thought it was very seductive, therefore the conqueror of hearts.

2010 El Conquistador is a Bordeaux Style blend we offer. 43% Estrella Farms/Starr Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Cedar Lane Merlot, 20% Starr Ranch Petit Verdot, 12% La Vista Mourvedre, and 7% Cedar Lane Syrah. This wine expresses complex herbal undertones leading to blackberry, raspberry, cedar box and a trace of dark chocolate followed by more subtle nuances of black olive and cassis. It steals your heart!

Reverance for the Land

In honor of first day of Fall, I share with you……when I was very young, about nine or ten my Mama sent my brothers and sisters “out to the fields” which basically means to go and work the land and crops. We picked grapes for my uncle Jimmy. We also picked garlic and potatoes. Picking garlic and potatoes was rather hard; you strapped a belt around your waist that had big hooks, that swung to the sides and you attached a canvas sack. I hated those hooks, they would dig into my stomach sometimes. You stooped over and picked garlic and potatoes similarly. We were usually there at 4:00 or 5:00 in the morning. Very back-breaking work, and the early mornings were cold, and then in a few hours it was so hot, you could hardly stand the heat. We were usually done by noon. A machine would disk the vegetables, usually about 11:00 it was too hot for the vegetables to be disked and exposed to the heat. So we were home early. I also weeded, thinned and worked in my families lunch wagons.
I don’t think we were the best nor fastest workers, but we averaged about $40.00 a day. And, for being little kids, it was pretty good money. In fact, if the truth be known we were fired twice! First time, while picking garlic we were adding too much MOG! Lol …. material other than garlic in the sack! For instance huge dirt clods. The field boss came by and randomly checked a few of our filled garlic sacks. And I could tell he was distressed to say the least! He yelled, ” you kids have to stop adding so much dirt and huge dirt clods !” Well what the heck we got fired, I scolded my younger sister and brothers. Because, as the oldest that’s what I was suppose to do. But, secretly, I was kinda happy! The second time we got fired. We were working outside of Fresno picking raisin grapes. My cousin Henry’s grandfather was the contractor, Domingo. My brother Steve would go ahead and cut bunches of grapes and make small piles, (we had a system) my sister Nellie would lay out the sheets of paper way ahead, that neatly lined the middle of the rows. I would be in the back collecting the bunches and Nellie then pored the grapes on the sheets to dry into raisins. Well my brother Steve encountered a swarm of bees, and came running down the row, where all the sheets were neatly laid out with grapes. Well we all ran out of the field screaming and in the process squashing all the neatly lined sheets of grapes that were laying out to dry! Well we got fired again. Heck we were being attacked and invaded by bees, Domingo did not understand. He said he preferred to pay us to stay out of the field, so he paid us for the day and we proceeded to buy junk food from the lunch wagon and hang out the remainder of the day. Till we got our ride home. My Mama never got upset over us getting fired, she was proud of us. One of my fondest memories, was to go on break with my sister Nellie, and brothers; Steve and Mike, and eat those ” surprise” burritos my Mama would make for us, they were so delicious and always a surprise. You never knew if it would be eggs and bacon, chorizo con huevo, or potatoes with small pieces of diced beef, etc. etc. I could just feel and sense the Love my Mama would impart into those burritos. I recall eating out in the fields with other families and a certain camaraderie was developed throughout time.
I actually picked cotton a few times also, not fun! As a child, I thought my Mama was mean for sending us out there, there was never any danger we were usually supervised by my Aunt Irene or some other family member. And if you were a San Joaquin Valley kid, it was just a way of life. No child labor laws then. I think I was 12 when FMC released their brand new spanking tomato harvesters. And I jumped at the chance to sort tomatoes, it really wasn’t so bad, if you had a group of friends to work on the same harvester, you could make it Fun. My Mama was out there with me and told me I had to be very fast at sorting tomatoes (since I was very young) she was afraid I I would get fired if I wasn’t a good worker. So I became a champion tomato sorter.
My Mama allowed us to keep the money we earned during summer, to buy school clothes, shoes and other school necessities like our school pictures. I learned very soon, that we were a lot taller than most, and we had to stoop more, causing great pain in my back. I knew I did not want any part of this life! And that had been my Mama’s plan all along………she did not want her children to work “in the fields,” the rest of their lives. She wanted us to experience this back-breaking work, so that hopefully we would want to get an education and improve ourselves. She wanted to teach us to work and work ethics. And we did. Thank you Mama.
But, the best gift I received from this experience was to develop a profound love and reverence for the land that is inexplicable; I love having my hands in soil and actually crave it. I love the smells of ripening cantaloupes, tomatoes and other vegetables. I love the colors of morning breaking. And, I especially love the bounty the land offers me. And now I am loving the grapes.

Abrazos y Besos
Raquel Hug



Today I got the opportunity to pick up some fruit at Starr Ranch Vineyard. While I waited I saw some beautiful countryside, typical Paso Robles. I decided to take a walk and maybe find someone that can help me find the bins I was picking up and stumbled upon something that put a smile on my face.
Now, I know there is a lot behind the importance of soil, weather and overall care of a vineyard but what amazed me was the love put into this one in particular. Perfectly aligned rows, not a single piece of trash or debris the wind may hav blown. The owner of the vineyard, I would imagine, has all the contracts of who, when, quantity, and most important, cost, of course, in an air conditioned office, right? This owner was on a tractor, jeans and boots on, showing a buyer the fruit he was about to receive. WOW! We love the passion put into where it all begins for us, where the fruit grows.