The Record Raves About Glorie Farm & Stoutridge Winery
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
By BILL PITCHER
THE RECORD (NJ)
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."