Hudson River Valley Wineries

This blog is dedicated to news, events, profiles and reviews of fine food and wine in the Hudson River Valley. We especially feature and spotlight the burgeoning wineries of the Hudson River Region. We accept and will relay information about releases, events, festivals and any toher happening related to food and wine in the Hudson River Valley. Send pertitnent information to

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Carlo DeVito is a long time wine lover, and author of books and magazine articles. He is the author of Wineries of the East Coast. He has traveled to wine regions in California, Canada, up and down the east coast, France, Spain and Chile. He has been a published executive for more than 20 years. He shepherded the wine book program of Wine Spectator as well as worked with Kevin Zraly, Oz Clarke, Matt Kramer, Tom Stevenson, Evan Dawson, Greg Moore, Howard Goldberg, and many other wine writers. He has also published Salvatore Calabrese, Jim Meehan, Clay Risen, and Paul Knorr. Mr. DeVito is the inventor of the mini-kit which has sold more than 100,000,000 copies world wide. He has also publisher such writers as Stephen Hawking, E. O Wilson, Philip Caputo, Gilbert King, James McPherson, John and Mary Gribbin, Thomas Hoving, David Margolick, Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., John Edgar Wideman, Stanley Crouch, Dan Rather, Dee Brown, Susie Bright, and Eleanor Clift. He is also the owner of Hudson-Chatham Winery, co-founder of the Hudson Berkshire Beverage Trail, and president of the Hudson Valley Wine Country.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Hudson Valley Wineries Come Up Big in March 2015 Wine Enthusiast!

In the latest issue of Wine enthusiast (March 2015) Hudson Valley red wines come up BIG once again!! Millbrook lead he way with a score of 89 Points for their Cabernet Franc 2012 Proprietor's Reserve, followed by Glorie Farm Winery with an 87 for their estate Cab Franc, and then followed by an 87 for Millbrook's New York Cabernet Franc. Hudson-Chatham also received an 87 for their Merlot 2011.
Great job!


Sunday, March 01, 2015

The Nittany Epicurean - Well Made Baco Does Exist - Hudson-Chatham Baco Noir Old Vines 2011

Well-Made Baco Noir Does Exist
Nittany Epicurean
Michael Chelus
I'm a wine lover. That's no surprise to any of you. I have my favorites, but I'm always open to new varietals and blends. Some are favorites that I go to time and time again. Others rubbed me the wrong way one or more times and I tend not to return, for better or for worse. 

One such varietal of the latter category is baco noir - a French-American hybrid varietal commonly seen in the Northeast United States (especially in New York) and Canada. It's usually light to medium-bodied, offers good acidity and has lots of ripe red fruit notes. Unfortunately, I've never had a baco noir that I really liked. I've had several from New York and more from Ontario over the years and I've never been fond of them. The color was frequently dull in the ones I've had over the years. The wine often contained excessive acidity and lacked any balance. Most of the baco noir I've had in the past ended up being lackluster and very thin. While it wasn't awful, I was not convinced that the grape could make a good wine.

For some time, I've had an ongoing discussion about whether baco noir can, indeed, make a good wine with Duncan Ross, president and co-owner of Arrowhead Spring Vineyards in Lockport, New York. Duncan has told me time and time again that when grown properly and made with a deft touch, baco noir can turn into well-made, complex, interesting wine. No one said it's going to compete with world class pinot noir, but it can be a high quality wine that shows off what a cool climate has to offer.

Last weekend, Duncan poured several examples of baco noir to prove his point. This one particularly supported his point:

2011 Hudson-Chatham Old Vines Baco Noir - Masson Place Vineyard - Pulteney Farm (Ghent, New York).

This wine has received quite a bit of acclaim, including from one source that I'm admittedly biased toward as a contributor - the New York Cork Report. The grapes are from vines that are over 60 years old. The wine is handmade and aged in French oak. It is unfined and unfiltered.

This baco noir had a "typical baco" nose, as described by Jim Baker of Chateau Niagara in Newfane, New York. I then pushed Jim to describe that further and use few words. He narrowed it down to a very precise and accurate description - red currants. Jim was spot on! The nose had a hefty dose of juicy, ripe red fruit, especially red currant. The wine had great structure and an oak backbone. It was well balanced and offered ample acidity that would lend it incredibly well to food pairing, especially with things like roasted or grilled pork and lamb. This was much better than the poorly-made versions I had before. I was converted - baco noir can made good wine.
Read more from Nittany Epicurean:

Friday, February 27, 2015

Hudson Valley Distillers Spirits Grove Fine Shine Applejack

Recently, I attended, along with a lot of other people, a great event at Hudson Valley Distillers Cocktail Grove Cocktail Lounge, an after hours mixer for the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce!! Lots of people there. Most amazingly, there was also the unveiling of a new product -Hudson Valley Distillers Spirits Grove Fine Shine Applejack.
Tom and Chris met at Bloomsburg University more than 20 years ago, and we've been talking for years about what kind of business they should start when Tom retired from his job as a police officer. Tom retired in January 2014, so they decided to stop talking and make it happen.

Tom and both their wives Jennifer and Jennifer, are gluten intolerant so beer was out. A winery seemed too capital intensive and the vines take too long to grow, so that was out. Consumer interest in locally sourced spirits and recent favorable legislation for farm distilleries in NY made a distillery the best choice. They decided to start a farm distillery, source as many ingredients as possible from our farm, and create unique, high quality distilled spirits.

In August 2012 Chris took a job where he could work from home and moved Jennifer and the boys from VA to NY. Tom retired in January and the goal was be operational in March 2014.  Their m
ission is to produce a line of unique distilled spirits from Hudson Valley ingredients. So far they have made Applejack and Vodka made from Hudson Valley apples
Cocktail Grove Cocktail lounge at Hudson Valley Distillers
Behind the bar they had fabulous help...including Jennifer, Chris's wife (right)
But at this particular event, they unleashed their newest spirit....Hudson Valley Distillers Spirits Grove Fine Shine Applejack. Essentially it's their version of Moonshine.
According to Wikipedia, "
Moonshine, white lightning, mountain dew, hooch, and white whiskey are terms used to describe high-proof distilled spirits that are generally produced illicitly. Moonshine is typically made with corn mash as the main ingredient. The word "moonshine" is believed to derive from the term "moonrakers" used for early English smugglers and the clandestine (i.e., by the light of the moon) nature of the operations of illegal Appalachian distillers who produced and distributed whiskey. The distillation was done at night to avoid discovery.

Moonshine was especially important to the Appalachian area. This white whiskey most likely entered the Appalachian region in the late 1700s to early 1800s. Scots-Irish immigrants from the Ulster region of Northern Ireland brought their recipe for their uisce beatha, Gaelic for "water of life". The settlers made their whiskey without aging it, and this is the same recipe that became traditional in the Appalachian area.

Years after these initial settlers, moonshine served as a source of income for many Appalachian residents. In early 20th century Cocke County, Tennessee, farmers made moonshine from their own corn crop in order to transport more value in a smaller load. Moonshine allowed them to bring in additional income while at the same time cutting down on transportation costs. Moonshiners in Harlan County, Kentucky, like Maggie Bailey, made the whiskey to sell in order to provide for their families.

In modern usage, the term "moonshine" ordinarily implies that the liquor is produced illegally; however, the term has also been used on the labels of some legal products as a way of marketing them as providing a similar drinking experience as found with illegal liquor.
Kelley Slagle f Farm to Glass Tours and HV Distillers' Chris Moyers
Jen (tall blonde to left) is Tom's wife. Fab crowd!

Moonshine has been the fastest growing segment of the craft distilling craze. It's become insanely popular! Hudson Valley Distiller's version of moonshine was super, super smooth. Not a lot of burn going down, but just enough. Feint whiff of apple on the nose. Easy to drink, and super for cocktails!!

Drink up! And congrats to Chris and Tom, and Jen and Jennifer!

Whitecliff Vineyard's Michael Migliore Wins Grower Award at BevNY 2015!

So, for anyone not in the know, there must have been some quizzical looks at the BevNY dinner when a Hudson Valley guy won the Grower Award. After all, compared to some of the size of some of the vineyards in the Finger Lakes and Long Island, or even the Niagara Escarpment, since when does the Hudson Valley offer up any competition. But those few must have been in for a shock.

Whitecliff's Michael Miglore, of the Hudson Valley, received the Grower Award from the New York Wine & Grape Foundation last night, February 26, 2015 at the BevNY Conference! The ret of New York state finally figured out what many of us in the Hudson Valley already knew - Michael is a very, very serious player in grape growing in New York state.

He is president of the Hudson Valley Wine & Grape Grower's Organization. Whitecliff have their own 26 acres. And their 30+ years of planting and experimenting in that vineyard have shaped a winery with deep roots in the region’s traditions, and helped pave the way for others in growing hybrids and viniferas in the Hudson Valley. Just recently, Whitecliff bottle what will be the first Hudson River Region Cabernet Sauvignon!

But Michael is not just a Hudson Valley guy or just a Whitecliff Vineyard guy. He manages a lot of smaller vineyards up and don the valley. He is the valley's biggest grower, and he plans on expanding even after that. And he has his hand in vineyards in Long Island and around the state. Michael is a serious mover of grapes in New York state.

Whitecliff Vineyard has been acknowledged as “one of the Valley’s most ambitious wineries,” by Hudson Valley Magazine. 

According to Hudson Valley Wine magazine, "As winemaker and vineyard manager, Michael Migliore brings the rigorous approach of a chemist and engineer to Whitecliff. With a Masters in Chemistry from SUNY New Paltz, and many years as a process engineer in semiconductor manufacturing, Michael applied his background in science to teaching himself the chemistry and art of winemaking. He works closely with Cornell Cooperative Extension testing new grape varieties, and pushing the envelope on the quality of grape growing in the region. In that capacity he also serves as president of the Hudson Valley Wine and Grape Growers Association."

But being the biggest grower is not the only thing makes Whitecliff Vineyard special in the Hudson Valley. Whitecliff brought home to the Hudson Valley a Best in Show with their Riesling from the 2010 San Francisco International Wine Competition. They bested 1,290 wines from 27 countries and 28 states, in a blind judging by 45 respected judges!

And their Whitecliff Vineyard 2012 Gamay Noir Hudson River Region was awarded 90 Points from Wine Enthusiast magazine.

Congrats to Michael, and to his fabulous wife, Yancey, who handles sales, marketing, and front of house! They are indeed a dynamic force! And shout out to Brad Martz and the winemaking team as well. Congrats! Well deserved!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Harvest Spirits Announces John Henry Single Malt Whiskey! Delicate! Complex! Damn! (NY)

Derek Grout and Peter Upstill (and their team) have done it! Harvest Spirits released their first Single Malt Whiskey from Harvest Spirits! Oh, boy!
OK, so my first question is, what is the history of Single Malt Whiskey? This is what Wikipedia says:
Distillation of whisky has been performed in Scotland and Ireland for centuries. The first written record of whisky comes from 1405 in Ireland, while the production of whisky from malted barley is first mentioned in Scotland in an entry on the 1494 Exchequer Rolls, which reads "Eight bolls of malt to Friar John Cor, by order of the King, wherewith to make aqua vitae".

Single malt whisky is associated with the Scottish tradition, although there are also Irish and other single malts. Penderyn, the only whisky commercially produced in Wales, is also a single malt.
From the 15th century onwards, whisky was heavily taxed in Scotland, to the point that most of the spirit was produced illegally. However, in 1823, Parliamet passed an act making commercial distillation much more profitable, while imposing punishments on landowners when unlicensed distilleries were found on their properties. George Smith was the first person to take out a licence for a distillery under the new law, founding the Glenlivet Distillery in 1824.

In the 1830s, Aeneas Coffey refined a design originally created by Robert Stein for continuous stills which produced whisky much more efficiently than the traditional pot stills. Quickly, merchants began blending the malt whisky with the grain whisky distilled in the continuous stills, making the first blended Scotch whisky. The blended whisky proved quite successful, less expensive to produce than malt with more flavour and character than grain. The combination allowed the single malt producers to expand their operations as the blended whisky was more popular on the international market.

Single malt distilleries also exist in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, England, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, India, Japan, Liechtenstein, Netherlands, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, USA and Wales.

And then, what is the definition of Single Malt? Again, Wikipedia:
Single malt whisky is a whisky made at one particular distillery from a mash that uses only malted grain, ordinarily barley.

Single malts are typically associated with single malt Scotch, though they are also produced in various other countries. Under Scotch Whisky Regulations, a "Single Malt Scotch Whisky" must be made exclusively from malted barley (although the addition of E150A caramel colouring is allowed), must be distilled using pot stills at a single distillery, and must be aged for at least three years in oak casks of a capacity not exceeding 700 litres (150 imperial gallons; 180 US gallons).

While the Scotch model is usually copied internationally, these constraints may not apply to whisky marketed as single malt that is produced elsewhere. For example, there is no definition of the term single with relation to whisky in the law of the United States, and some American whiskey advertised as single malt whisky is produced from malted rye rather than malted barley.

OK, now let's talk about Harvest Spirits' John Henry Single Malt Whiskey. It's made using a beer made by Adirondack brewing, which is made from 75% New York smoky 2-row malted barley. It's double distilled. Then aged for two years. Approximately one month in new barrels, and then the rest in older applejack and bourbon barrels, or what they refer to as re-fill barrels.
Now, before I go into my review, I want to state out right that I am a bourbon guy. Generally I am not a huge fan of single malt. But I do like some.
That said, I like this whiskey for everything it is not. If you are looking for a big, smoky, mossy, peat monster, you will absolutely be disappointed. If you are looking for a big, bitter, biting, hot going down your throat single malt, then this is not for you.
On the other hand, of your looking for a light, lovely, floral nose with Sourdough bread, caramel apple, and lots of spiced fruit, then this is your whiskey. It's a lovely, elegant, complex spirit, with layers of delicate flavors and no sense of grain alcohol or anything like that.
If I've heard anything about brown spirits coming out of the Hudson Valley and the rest of the north east, its that they are not allowed to age long enough in the cask to acquire the complexity to compete with other spirits from Tennessee or Kentucky. I think the point with John Henry is two fold: 1. This is, in Derek Grout's wheel house, a more delicate and complex whiskey, instead of the caveman-ish club some would prefer. 2. Derek and Pete's palates across the board have always been to the more refined, elegant, delicate side, and this take on scotch whiskey is more than admirable. It's down right lovely!! Strike that! It's damned good!

Good things come in small packages. John Henry Single Malt Whiskey is now available in 750ml, 350ml and 50 ml bottles. Stop by the tasting room ASAP and get your hands on Batch#1. 
And tell the rest of the guys Hi! for me!

Yard Owl Craft Brewery Moves! Yard Owl Fire Pit Golden Ale is Fantastic!

So, the BIG NEWS is that Yard Owl Brewing is moving!
In a statement that came out on Facebook, they stated:
"Big news from Yard Owl!! As of this afternoon we have a new home! We are moving out of our 400 sq. ft. brew space, to this Brewery-to-be in lovely Gardiner, N.Y. We will have enough room to host a tasting room, beer garden & some local lite bites. The space is big and empty so we need a little help from our beer community. Look out for our Kickstarter campaign starting St. Patricks Day!"
If you remember, Kristop Brown and James Walsh met by chance. In the year of 1997 James needed a ride to Mardi Gras and Kristop had a car. Since that crazy trip to New Orleans they have been inseparable friends. James and Kristop both have strong backgrounds in creating tasty beverages. James’ experience comes from being co-owner of the Mudd Puddle Cafe and coffee roasters in New Paltz that he established with his wife Michelle 13 years ago. Kristop has been spending his time establishing himself as an award winning wine maker in the Hudson Valley.

The two friends began their journey of beer brewing by experimenting with recipes in the kitchen. With five kids running around, they took turns raising the heat on the mash or pitching yeast to a fermenter.  After they artfully shaped these recipes, they decided it was time to take their learning to the next level by attending professional brewing courses at the esteemed UC Davis Brewing School. Armed with their new found knowledge, they opened up the small brewery and have been enjoying the success of the fruits of their labor.
Was just about to post this review when their big news was announced. I bought this bottle of Yard Owl Golden Ale a while ago. Had it with a Ploughman's Lunch of New York aged dark sharp cheddar, pickles, and Triscuit crackers and some great French mustard brought back from Paris by some friends of ours.

Yard Owl Fire Pit Golden Ale is an American Pale Ale if you're looking for a definition. But Yard Owl is always hard to define. Their beers are very unique.

Pour: Hazy golden colored ale. Nice carbonation. Not overly so, but solid.

Head: An off-white foamy head, that was about two fingers from a heavy pour. I like it that way. The head lingers nicely, leaving a nice lacing that doesn't stick to the sides of the glass for too long, but over all very, very pretty.

Nose: Beautiful floral nose, with orange zest, roasty malt, peach and apricot, chamomile, clove spice, citrus all coming through.

Palate: This is a big, zesty pale ale. Nice roasty, maltiness comes through first, almost like a Scotch Ale, but then the flavors kick in. Stone fruits like peach, apricot, and apple definitely come through. Nice amount of bitternes, so that the beer is well balanced. Great flavor afterwards. Very savory. Easy to drink.

Loved it!!!!