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.

Monday, December 11, 2006

New Years Eve at the Magnanini Farm Winery/Restaurant

My Aunt Irma and her friend Mario have been going to the Magnanini Farm Winery for years. When I discovered it for myself, they were incredulous. I was almost two decades late. Where the heck had I been...they wondered.

Don't let this happen to you. A trip to this little restaurant/winery is one of the Hudson Valley's unique treats. From the outset, Galba, who worked in the vineyards when he was a youngster in Italy, has been intent on making the Magnanini Winery a family affair. It has been exactly that since the winery was established in 1983 to the first bottling a year later. In the spring of 1985, the family-style European restaurant was opened.

The property on which the vineyards and winery are located has been in the family since 1953, although it wasn’t until 1970 that Galba and Richard began planting wine grapes. “In 1965, I went to Europe. I was touring Europe and I saw American tourists drinking wines. I came back and decided to plant.” The harvest from the first planting was sold to home winemakers in the area. While the winemakers perfected their wines, Richard continued to do research on viticulture practices and winemaking techniques.

The New Years Eve event is the last of a year's worth of wonderful food - a crescendo of gourmet experience. They are open every weekend, April thru the 2nd weekend of December, New Year’s Eve and Carnevale, the 1st Saturday of February, (costumes are appreciated) Wine tasting is between 6:00 PM and 7:00 PM on Saturday evening and between 12:00 PM and 1:00 PM on Sunday afternoon. A six-course dinner prepared by the Magnanini chefs is served Saturday at 7:00 PM and Sunday at 1:00 PM.

Magnanini Winery
172 Strawridge Road
Wallkill, NY 12589
CALL: 845-895-2767

Try's a tremendous, rustica treat, any time of year. Make it a New Year's resolution to try something new. Visit their website and bring a napkin, because you'll start drooling just reading the menu.

Best wishes

Cascade Mountain to Announce New Years Eve Event

Cascade Mountain was founded in the spring of 1972 by the Wetmore family who pioneered the production of premium table wines on the eastern side of the Hudson River. Bill, along with his wife Margaret and their three children Charles, Michael and Joan, planted the vineyard in 1972, built the winery in 1977, and opened the restaurant in 1985.

Today, Cascade Mountain is a thriving business which features a full line of award-winning table wines and a highly rated restaurant. Customers come from all over the world to enjoy a few pleasant hours on top of the Berkshire foothills accompanied by some of the best food and wine to be found in the Hudson River Valley.

Beginning December 8th the normal hours for lunch at Cascade Mountain Winery will be curtailed for the season. The Winery is open Thursday-Sunday for wine tastings and we are serving lunch Friday, Saturday & Sunday. Call to confirm hours of operation or for reservations or event information please call (845) 373-9021. For more information email

There will be a special menu with reservations being accepted for New Years Eve. Look for details ( on December 12th. As for the room, it is always available for private bookings for groups of 12 or more. Rates and Dates upon request.

Contact: 845 797- 0018

Shawangunk Wine Trail Joining the Annual Wreath and Fineries Holiday Event

Eleven wineries along the Shawangunk Wine Trail are joining the annual Wreath and Fineries Holiday Event, an opportunity to travel the trail, taste the wines and gather a collection of beautiful ornaments.

Visitors will receive a Shawangunk Wine Trail souvenir wine tasting glass and a handmade grapevine wreath at the first winery they visit. Then, at each of the next 10 wineries, they'll receive an ornament to decorate the wreath. Each winery visit will also include a tasting of wines and holiday foods.

The event is offered 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Dec. 16-17.

Wineries along the trail include Adair Vineyards, Applewood Winery, Baldwin Vineyards, Benmarl Vineyards, Brimstone Hill Vineyard, Brotherhood Winery Glorie Farm Winery, Rivendell Winery, Stoutridge Vineyard and Whitecliff Vineyards.

Tickets are $30 per person and $50 per couple and are good for a full two-day weekend. (Couples receive one wreath and one set of ornaments.) Ticket holders will be assigned a starting winery.

For tickets or more information, call 255-2494 or visit

Warwick Advertiser Lauds Holidays at Orange County Wineries

From the Warwick Advertiser
December 4, 2006

Unique holiday gifts available right here in Orange County

The gift-giver can never go wrong when sharing a gift to please the taste buds. A certificate to the famous Sunday brunch at the Thayer Hotel or a cooking lesson and tasting experience with a CIA-trained chef at the charming Iron Forge Inn, is sure to be a hit. Perhaps a bottle of award-winning wine from one of Orange County’s four wineries, Applewood, Brotherhood, Demarest Hill or Warwick Valley, will fill the bill.

Baldwin Vineyards On a Roll

Baldwin Vineyards in the Hudson Valley clearly does fruit wine right, racking up awards around the country for its luscious Strawberry Wine and Raspberry Wine. Most recently, Baldwin’s Strawberry tied for Best Fruit Wine in the United States at the World Value Wine Challenge sponsored by the Beverage Testing Institute in Chicago . Earlier this they won at the New York Wine & Food Classic, the same wine won Best Fruit Wine in the state for the third year in a row, and Best Specialty Wine for the second year. Last winter, the San Francisco International Wine Competition rated Baldwin’s Strawberry Wine the Best of Class, which essentially meant best fruit wine in America . While great by itself, the Strawberry Wine is also a fabulous topping for vanilla ice cream and even pancakes. Located in Pine Bush along the Shawangunk Wine Trail, Baldwin Vineyards is a small, family farm winery owned and run by Jack and Pat Baldwin, who have long been industry leaders in terms of cooperation with others.

For more information, visit

Congrats to Jack and Pat and everyone else at Baldwin!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Wineries of the Shawangunk Wine Trail celebrated in Journal News

Going west for wine By Judith Hausman
From The Journal News, 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.

Times Herald-Record Recommends Benmarl Baco Noir for Xmas

from the Times Herald-Record, December 03, 2006
A basketful of gifts you can only find here
From the inexpensive to the dear, unique presents abound in the mid- Hudson Valley and Catskills. 1 of 3 By Shawn Dell Joyce

How about a bottle of artisan-made wine from the oldest winery in the region, Benmarl Vineyard at 156 Highland Ave. in Marlboro?

For $25, you can get this year's version of the Cornell Cup winner "Best Wine of the Hudson River Region" in 2005; the Benmarl Estate Baco Noir. The wine smells hauntingly of cherry and nutmeg, tastes smoothly of vanilla, and ends with an oak spice flavor that's sure to be a hit at the holiday table.

There's a recommendation we can get behind.