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, January 15, 2007


Recently, I decided to go back and begin where it all began - so I turned back to Brotherhood. Brotherhood, America's Oldest winery, is located in the picturesque village of Washingtonville, NY. The winery was established by a European emigre, John Jaques, who produced the first commercial vintage in 1839. Brotherhood has been in continuous operation since that time - making the winery the oldest in the United States! Brotherhood is on the NY State and National Register of historic places.

In 1886 the winery changed hands. Mr. Jesse Emerson and his son expanded the facility, adding what is now considered the "landmark" stone building with additional underground cellars that are the largest in the country. The winery changed hands again in 1921, being bought by the Farrell family. Like other surviving wineries, Brotherhood sold sacramental wine during the years of prohibition. During the "Farrell" era the winery underwent dramatic changes - major expansion, the beginning of a visitor tour operation and the creation of a broad range of award-winning wines. Brotherhood remained a "family business" until a change of ownership in January of 1987.

In 1987, new owners arrived at Brotherhood. Cesar Baeza, an internationally prominent winemaker and viticulturist, began the process of converting Brotherhood into the premier winery of New York State. Winemaster Baeza's first premium varietals were produced at the winery in the fall of 1987.

In 2005 Baeza brought in Luis Chadwick. Baeza and Chadwick own Vina Casas Patronales in Chile. The vineyards there date back three centuries, first planted by the Spanish. There wines are distributed in the US, with their premium US label being Nostalgia.

Now these two high-powered Chilean winemakers have set their sites, not only on becoming one of the premiere wineries of the Hudson River Valley, but of the region and higher. They have completely redone the cellars, bringing in new Barriques, and revised the tasting room, and are planting many new vineyards, including up by Hudson, New York near Olana State Park, making a very large commitment of 40 planted acres. That’s a lot of grapes…and that will be a very large winery.

With all this going on, I decided to review my old tasting notes from my book, and taste a new a number of their wines.

I went to my old favorites first.

The Mariage holds up very well against my notes, and shows improvement. This is a blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Chardonnay. Barrel-aged, dry medium red continues to impress. A very nice wine.

And of course, the Late Harvest, Eiswein Johannisberg Riesling continues to shine as one of the brightest stars in the Brotherhood portfolio. Lucious, with honey and apricot overtones. Rich, with just the right tanginess, the mark of a well balanced dessert wine that is sweet without being cloying. Extremely nice.

Two other wines I tried were the following - 2004 Pinot Noir and the Views of the Hudson Cabernet Sauvignon.

The Views of the Hudson was a medium bodied red. Cherry, toasty oak, and vanilla came through. Smooth, very nice drinking wine. A very solid favorite with food. A nice, inexpensive wine good for get-togethers, etc. Actually one of those lesser priced bottles that is defintely a great buy. A nice bottle of wine great with food.

And the real surprise was the Pinot Noir. Earth and mushrooms come through as promised. Also light touches of oak and vanilla. Very nice cherry upfront with a touch of pepper at the end. A nice surprise.

And here's the really good news - Brotherhood promises to only get better over the next five years. Personally, I can't wait.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Clinton Vineyards Cassis....Mmmm, Mmmmm Good

Recently I revisited one of my favorite old haunts, Vintage New York. I was curious about a dessert wine at the tasting bar - Clinton Vineyards Cassis. Cornell extension agents have been pushins currants, the fruit base of this wonderful nectar, which are wonderfully suited to this region.

It is a wine that starts off with deep, deep dark berries. Like a tart blackberry-blueberry cobbler. Then the tartness tingles your tongue for a second, and then a big smile crosses your face. It's tart and sweet but finishes with an almost dry pucker. And it's alcohol content is 16.5%. Wow! It is deep, dark, brutal, and refined. It is excellent. It is a work of art.

Winner of gold medals and "Best in Class" at the Los Angeles International Wine Competition is wonderful when sipped alone or combined with a sparkling white to make a Kir Royale.

Available for tasting and sales at the vineyard. Open Noon - 6pm, Friday to Monday