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.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

CIA to Host Hudson Valley Regional Fest

Poughkeepsie — The 2006 Taste of the Hudson Wine and Epicurean Arts Festival will be held Nov. 5 at the Culinary Institute of America.

The event, a fundraiser for St. Francis Hospital and Health Center, is among the most noted food and wine events in the region. About 40 restaurants and purveyors from the Hudson Valley and beyond will be featured, along with wines and foods prepared by the region's best-regarded chefs.

The event celebrates all things culinary and will include auctions, demonstrations, book-signings and appearances by chefs and wine experts. New this year are several Hudson Valley specialties, such as eau de vie, liqueur, fruit wines, beer, chocolate, cheese and ice cream.

Proceeds will benefit the $9.4 million expansion of the hospital's Trauma and Emergency Services. It is sponsored by the St. Francis Health Care Foundation and M&T Bank.

Reserve tickets are required and range from $150-$200, a portion of which is tax-deductible. Call 431-8707 or visit for more information.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Left Bank Hudson Wineries Highlighted in The Journal News

Going west for wine
Take a day trip to the vineyards on the left bank of the Hudson
October 18, 2006

Not that anyone needs an excuse to take in the fall leaves at their peak - but the Greater New York Wine & Food festival this weekend in Tarrytown got us thinking about New York wines, and visiting a few Hudson Valley vineyards makes for a great day trip.

The wineries of the Shawangunk Wine Trail around New Paltz area are just a hour away. Throw in a walk along a gorgeous hiking trail, a stop at an antique center and an orchard and you've got a great fall trip.

I headed west on I-84 - but you can take the New York State Thruway- to the farthest winery, Baldwin Vineyards, and then headed back in a semi-circle, stopping at Whitecliff Vineyard and Benmarl Winery. There are also a number of other wineries on the trail if you have more time. (Check out

Route 52 rolls past silos, cornfields and small dairy farms to Baldwin Vineyards, which is set on 37 acres behind a 200-year old house. In 1974, owner Jack Baldwin took a trip to Europe with his family that changed his life. He wasn't even drinking wine at the time. "We stopped outside Paris and I tasted a Chateauneuf du Pape; it was like velvet." He was hooked. By the fall of 1983, Baldwin produced his first 200 cases of wine and had won three medals. By 1985 he had left his corporate life.

Now he looks forward to expanding the tasting and storage rooms and adding a kitchen next summer. I tasted Baldwin's 2004 Chardonnay: round and creamy. His 2002 Claret, made with Cabernet Franc, a hearty, popular grape well-suited to the region, is tannic and dry. Joseph's Vintage is a late harvest riesling "concentrated by botrytis, or 'the noble rot,' " Baldwin explained, which occurs when grapes are left on the vine long into the fall. The dessert wine's honey and apricot flavors called for Camembert and walnuts, though Baldwin suggested cheesecake might be a good match.

Baldwin Vineyards is also well-known for fruit-based dessert wines. The strawberry wine, made from nothing but strawberries, smells and tastes like liquid jam. It was awarded The Val Award as The Best Wine in the Hudson River Region in 2005 and a gold medal and Best in Class in the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition in 2006.

The abrupt white mesa of the Shawangunk Range, which is famous among rock climbers, loomed ahead as I headed east again. I have hiked the laurel-rimmed trails of Minnewaska State Park and The Mohonk Preserve in all seasons, but had never visited the Napa Valley-style tasting room and gardens below at Whitecliff Vineyard.

The breathtaking view of the mountains rose from the green valley over vines heavy with fruit. "There's one spot where you can see all the way to Ellenville in the Catskills," said owner Michael Migliore. Migliore and his wife, Yancy, met as climbers on those cliffs. Migliore came to the area as a graduate student at SUNY New Paltz and his degrees in physical-organic chemistry helped him teach himself about making wine.

"I experimented at each harvest," he says.

His is the most ambitious winery I visited. Migliore grows 40 to 75 percent of his grapes and is planting more riesling, pinot noir and gewurztraminer on two new sites into production in Marlboro, less than half an hour away. The remaining grapes come form other Hudson Valley farms, the Finger Lakes and Long Island, but Migliore is encouraging local fruit farmers to plant grapes to meet the growing demand in the region. "Before Prohibition it was grapes, not apples in the Hudson Valley," he says. "There were 13,000 acres of grapes."

Whitecliff cooperates with local growers in other ways. Two Gardiner ranches brought their grassfed beef to a Harvest Twilight tasting at the vineyard. This year Migliore trucked 6 1/2 tons of red grape pommace - what's left after crushing- down the road to Tuthilltown Spirits Distillery, where Ralph Erenzo created a warm and smooth custom grappa for Whitecliff. Like Baldwin, Migliore is ready to expand this spring with another storage building for his oak barrels, which age his toasted almond Reserve Chardonnay and his Bordeaux-style blend, Sky Island red.

His 2005 Awosting White, named for the nearby mountain lake, is a summery combo of vignole and seyval blanc, the region's popular white companion to the Cabernet Franc grape. The peppery finish and vibrant flavors of his 2001 Cabernet Franc "should be even better in 6 or 7 years," says Migliore, rinsing and pouring another taste.

After curving south on Milton Turnpike, I turned into the vine-bordered drive of Benmarl Winery, almost parallel to the Hudson. No wonder weddings are so popular here: the view of the river from the lawn, stone courtyard and three buildings is spectacular. Victor and Barbara Spacarelli, who took over the winery this spring, are reclaiming 20 acres and restoring 10 more of what's touted as "the oldest vineyard in America.'" It's not the oldest winery, but grapes have been grown continuously on this site since the Huguenots planted them in the 1700s. Benmarl was founded by Mark Miller, influential Hudson Valley vintner and artist.

Except for the estate-grown Baco Noir, Benmarl's wines are made from grapes from California, Pennsylvania and elsewhere. The rich 2005 vintage is is fruit-forward with a spicy finish. I also especially liked Benmarl's 2005 Slate Hill white, a summery, floral blend of chardonnay, viognier, sauvignon blanc and riesling. Sweet Sarah, an ice wine-style dessert wine for which the grapes are frozen to concentrate their sweetness, will keep good company "with pumpkin pie, gingerbread or apple charlotte for the holidays," suggests Molly Duncan, a winery guide. Walking through the arcaded cellars, Duncan shows off Benmarl's recently acquired larger crusher, mechanized bottler and labeling machines, all of which will help the winery modernize and increase its production.

I arranged my souvenir whites and reds, my Empire apples and Bosc pears and the little bags of vintage buttons I had found at the HiHo Antiques Center in the back of my car for the easy drive home. On a crisp fall day, this beautiful and so-close region made the perfect day trip. The steady growth of interest in food and wine is giving life to Hudson Valley agri-tourism and their wine is improving. Go taste it for yourself. Maybe this year you'll be serving Hudson Valley wines proudly with your turkey.

Cornell Lab Initiative Highlighted in Times Herald-Record

Cornell lab gives boost to wineries
By Brian Dunlop
For the Times Herald-Record
October 23, 2006

The Hudson Valley is poised to supply wine grapes to its own wineries, but the region's frigid winters mean that potential grape growers need advice on where to plant.

Researchers at Cornell University's Hudson Valley Laboratory in Highland want to help farmers by finding those best places.

"Most winemakers want local grapes, to cut costs and to produce a true Hudson Valley product," said Stephen Hoying, the Cornell project leader.

"We want to develop a methodology for growing grapes locally that farmers can use before they set out on their own," he said.

Michael Migliore, proprietor of Whitecliff Vineyard and president of the Hudson Valley Wine and Grape Association, estimates that "500 to 1,000 acres of grapes are needed to satisfy existing demand among Hudson Valley wineries."

Migliore applauds the laboratories efforts to expand fortify the local wine industry.

"For an apple farmer getting into grapes, Cornell will be able to tell them the best sites and grape varieties to grow."

Wine tourism has spread throughout the Hudson Valley in the past 20 years, fueled by a threefold increase in wineries.

But viticulture researcher John Hudelson notes that local growers seeking to diversify their crops have to contend with an old foe: frigid winter temperatures that often claim fragile grape vines.

Temperatures lower than minus 10 will kill wine-grape vines.

The first stage of the Cornell lab's research involves identifying locations that could support the most vulnerable viniferous vines — ones that produce the best wine.

To accomplish this, the laboratory team has been placing 125 sensors around the region, which will be in place by Nov. 15.

These will monitor temperatures throughout the winter and give them an idea of how much fluctuation exists during the coldest months.

Several locations, usually found at the top of sloping ground within a short distance of the Hudson River, have already proven capable of sustaining viniferous vines.

"Cold air pools like water in valleys," explains Hudelson.

"After a frost, crops at the top of a slope will not be as damaged as those at the bottom."

The trick is to identify the locations that are protected enough from winter air.

Ultimately, the research could serve two aims.

It would both help preserve local family farms, and also solidify the Hudson Valley as a recognized wine producer.

Monday, October 16, 2006

The Record Raves About Glorie Farm & Stoutridge Winery

A small wine district prospers in Marlborough

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


Marlborough is a destination. It has to be, because you'll never wander into this New York town on your own.

It's neither small nor isolated. The town's 27 square miles are bisected by a state highway that connects Newburgh and Poughkeepsie, the Hudson Valley's largest cities. Nor is Marlborough particularly rural. Inside its borders are the hamlets of Marlboro and Milton, with their restaurants, banks, taverns and spas, and the main road is lined with service stations and self-storage units.

It's the two natural boundaries that make it unlikely you'll pass through town on your way somewhere else. The ridge of Mount Zion marks the town's western border, and the Hudson River sits to the east. Most travelers eschew the main road, Route 9W, in favor of the speedy New York State Thruway, a mile west of the southwest corner of town, or Route 9, the four-lane highway just across the river.

"We're not on the way to anywhere," said Doug Glorie, co-owner of Glorie Farm Winery. "You have to know we're here and come to us."

But the mountain and river that insulate Marlborough are the same features that have made it one of the most agriculturally prosperous Hudson Valley towns and worthy of a day trip. Its fertile soil has yielded 1,000 acres of fruit, most sitting on Mount Zion's eastern-facing hillside. The apple trees and grapevines are saturated with early-morning sun, and when the late-spring frosts threaten other farms, farmers here breathe easier, knowing that the cold air will sink into the river valley below.

"It's a microclimate in the Marlborough area, shielded by the mountain and next to the river. It's really a neat geographical setting," said Steve Osborn, co-owner of Stoutridge Vineyard. "It's just a very good climate for growing fruit in general, and grapes work in it."

Glorie and Osborn are the latest entrepreneurs to capitalize on Marlborough's location, doubling the number of the town's wineries in just four years. Glorie's boutique winery, an offshoot of his fruit farm, is still in its infancy; Osborn's $2 million winery will open its doors in October. Together, they're helping to restore the grape's place in Marlborough's history -- a spot lost nearly a century ago when many winemakers moved into the Finger Lakes and along Lake Erie, where more level land allowed machines to do a lot of the work, something not possible on Marlborough's steep hillsides.

"You see apples now, all over, but historically apples were not the big crop," said Steve Clarke, whose family runs a seventh-generation fruit farm, Prospect Hill Orchards, in Milton. "If you look at old pictures, it was all grapes, everywhere."

It was 1979 when Glorie purchased 54 acres of hillside on Mount Zion. The farm -- and its 14 head of cattle, 10 pigs, 50 rabbits and 100 chickens -- was purely a hobby, a diversion from his engineering career. The first grapes were planted in 1983, and slowly apples, pears, peaches and other fruits replaced the livestock.

"We have a rule that if you want to add something to the farm, you have to take something out," he said.

In 1993 he lost his job at IBM, across the river, and gambled on a second career in farming with his wife, MaryEllen. He found success selling fruits at farm markets and to wholesalers, but the real payoff was the prolific harvest of 2001.

"The season was over, and we'd satisfied our wine customers, and we'd satisfied our wholesale customers, and we had so much left," he said. "I wasn't about to lose that crop."

Another winery pressed the remaining grapes, and in June 2002 the Glories' 2001 Seyval Blanc was bottled. "When we tasted it, we knew this was what we wanted to do," Doug said.

Fruit farmer expands

Today, Glorie Farm Winery has hit its stride, bottling its capacity of 500 cases a year. It's still very much a fruit farm, but a modest country winery has taken over part of the 1913 dairy barn. The rooms that held cows now house the aging and storage rooms. The chicken coop now welcomes visitors as a tasting room, where 11 wines are available for sampling.

Glorie doesn't make the wine; he leaves that to winemaker Anne Regan, who worked with another Hudson Valley winery for 17 years. But he is active in developing new varieties. Glorie says his winery will be the first in the Hudson Valley to offer black currant wine next year. Also next year, he expects to bottle his first peach wine, the product of an exceptional summer.

"The year to do it is this year, because of the peach abundance. And the sweetness is unbelievable this year."

After a career of making wine in California's Napa Valley and New York's Finger Lakes, Osborn was content with managing a wine shop in Cold Spring, in Putnam County. The land he and his wife, Kim Wagner, bought near downtown Marlboro in 2000, the grapes they planted there and the neighboring acreage they bought the following year were never intended for commercial use.

"It was when we were clearing the land, we knew that we were in for more," he said.

Historic finds put to use

Osborn's first find on the property was the foundation from an 1855 house. Then came another foundation, 250 feet south -- the remains of a 19th-century winery. And in the woods were 100-year-old Concord grape vines, snaking their way up the trees.

"We knew the soil, we knew the slopes were good for grapes, but we had no idea of the exact history here," he said.

A guest house with meeting accommodations now sits above the restored foundation of the original house. And last week, Osborn received the certificate of occupancy for his 15,000-square-foot winery, whose stone wall was crafted from rocks salvaged from the foundation.

"During construction, every couple of days I'd walk around and imagine making wine in the space we were creating," he said. "Now that I've finished it, and it's turned out so well, I can't imagine how I could have known in the beginning to put it on paper."

Stoutridge is unique in its use of gravity in moving the grapes through the winemaking process, from the top floor to the bottom, via openings between floors. "You tend to get better preservation of flavor by not using pumps," Osborn said. "For certain wines, it would be a waste of money to build that kind of winery, but for the style I'm trying to do, I think it's almost a necessity."

Osborn and Wagner have moved at a methodical, deliberate pace. The inaugural harvest -- the vineyards include rieslings, pinot blancs and pinot noirs -- is finally taking place this week, and the winery will open to the public in early October. Osborn already christened the equipment, crushing chardonnay grapes he purchased from a farm in Red Hook. His first bottle will be available in April.

"We're in no hurry here," he said. "We have a very long term plan for us. We will be here for a very long time."