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.

Saturday, May 31, 2008


Last night were the HVWGA 2008 Awards Dinner. The bash was held at the Culinary Institute of America, under cloudy skies, but fair weather. The finger foods and dinner were exceptional - and so were the wines. Mike Migliore, John Huddleson, Debbie Gioquindo, and many others deserve more and more praise for conducting this competition and event, which both highlights amateur and professional winemakers.

The Hudson Valley version of goodfellas. Here's a picture of Doug Glorie (Glorie Winery), John Graziano (Millbrook), Richard Eldridge(Brimstone Winery), and Mark Stopkie (Adair Vineyards). These are really good folks. John's Cabernet Franc ran away with the Cornell Cup, which is for the best wine in the Hudson Valley. Congrats to John and the rest of the folks at Millbrook!

This is Debbie Gioquindo who is otherwise known as The Wine Goddess. You should go to her blog if you are interested in Hudson Valley wines and tours. She's a great lady, and someone who is making a difference in the wine community in the Valley. Go to: You can also see what she's up to at:

The elegant dinning room was a superb setting for the dinner. We feasted on a mixed appetizer featuring grilled beef, chicken, salmon, and shrimp. We also dined on roasted lamb (which went beautifully with the Benmarl Baco Noir) and steak (which was perfect for the Millbrook Cabernet Franc). The CIA is a great place to host such an event, and highlights the culinary value of the valley.

Clinton Vineyards was ably represented by Ben Feder and his lovely wife Phyllis, the self described "child bride." Ben is the senior winemaker of the valley, and at 85 he still talked a great game and had the crowd chuckling. Clinton Vineyards will be celebrating it's 30th Anniversary this year. Congrats to them!

The folks from Brookview Station took home a gold for their wonderful apple wine. Great fun! This is only a small part of their large contingent. Congrats!

Tony Trigo of Claremont Vineyards and and his better half also attended.

Other people, among many, included the rounded applauded Steve Casscels; Kristop Brown, who won a chestful of medals; and the funloving and likeable owner of Bashakill.

This event really showed how far the Hudson Valley has come. More than ever before the wines are showing through lovely. The Benmarl Seyval Blanc and the Whitecliff Awosting White were excellent, dry, crisp whites, and the Benmarl and Millbrook reds showed that the valley is producing solid reds which can compete in the open marketplace.

It was a great evening, and the fun of it was seeing so many new faces from the smaller, start-up wineries like Bashakill and others that are growing in number. The Hudson Valley's reputation as a culinary and wine destination is growing, and a new generation of winemakers is ascending the stage. The view from here is mostly good...and that's good news for wine drinkers of all descriptions.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Young Winemakers Series - Kristop Brown from Benmarl Vineyards

This is yet another interview or profile of new, young winemakers on the eastcoast scene - Kristop Brown of Benmarl Vineyards

I do not know Kristop Brown well. But I know of him. He is young, but well educated, and hungry for more knowledge. Kristop Brown has rock star good looks, a soft spoken voice, and confident but unobtrusive personality, and a great way with people. Oh yeah, and he makes great wine. The current heart throb of Hudson Valley winemaking, it is easy to see why people are drawn to the quiet but charismatic winemaker from Benmarl. He certainly mirrors the zen of the current age, Brown seems to evince a love and enthusiasm for wine and winemaking, but also seems to possess a sense of self, not seeming to take himself too seriously.

“I worked at Millbrook Winery for one year,” said Brown. “I became interested in wine at Millbrook where I was able to taste wine from Millbrook as well as the other estates owned by John Dyson in Tuscany and the Russian River Valley. This opened my eyes to the world of wine.”

“I went to Rutgers University and studied forestry,” he said, admitting that wine was not yet a trade he had at first considered seriously.

“I've been at Benmarl since the [first week] in January 2004,” says Brown. “I learned to make wine apprenticing under Eric Miller, former winemaker at Benmarl [and son of owner Mark Miller], and owner and winemaker at Chaddsford winery (Pennsylvania). I took Organic chem. I and II at SUNY Ulster to help me understand wine better.” He added, “I am also in school part time with the goal of getting a degree in Chemistry.”

Benmarl is known for its Baco Noir, and in recent years Brown has helped raise the hybrid from a local favorite to a wine other winemakers are talking about. Many other wineries had pulled their Baco Noir vines, not able to make a go of it with the somewhat obscure hybrid. But Brown’s newest incarnation of this grape reminds one of a fine Rhone or a Washington state red. It’s big, fruity, but dry and elegant. And the new package and label have helped make the transformation complete. This wine is a true treasure.

I asked Kristop about the vines at Benmarl. “The average age of a Baco vine on the property is 25 years old with the oldest at 50 years. These older vines give great character and low yields. Also Baco should be planted in steep rocky soils overlooking a body of water, which is exactly us. Aging in a mixture of new and used French oak is an essential part of Benmarl's Baco program. We age Baco for at most 8 months. I feel the youthful fruit of Baco shows best and should be consumed in the first 1-5 years of its life. Lastly the high acidity must be dealt with and this to me is the biggest challenge in making the wine. Blending a small amount of low acid wine like Foch works, de-acidifying may work (but sometimes leaves a "hole" in the wine), and leaving a dash of residual sugar are all techniques I have used.”

“90% of the producing vines are Baco with the rest split between Marchel Foch, Leon Millot, Noiret and there is a dash of Chambourcin, Aurora, and Villard Noir…We are currently cultivating young Traminette vines on the property and making plans for restoring much of the overgrown terracing to replant. This of course will take many years to complete. ”

I asked him if he enjoyed making Baco Noir. “I do enjoy making Baco the most because I am starting to know the variety a little better having worked with it for four and a half vintages. I am able to tend the vines and make the wine which I think allows for maximum control of the outcome. I also enjoy making crisp whites with slow, cool fermentations like Traminette and Riesling. The intensity of aromatic fruit that is created is intoxicating.”

What is his favorite part of the process? “My favorite part of winemaking believe it or not is working in the vineyard. This is where the wine is made. I finally understand the French philosophy on the vigneron which means "winegrower.”

The more you know Mr. Brown, the more you want to know. He was originally born in Sharon, Connecticut, in June of 1975. He is married to Jade, and they have an 11-month-old baby, Ruby. "I used to fly fish and go camping with Jade before the baby, but would like to return to it when Ruby is older. I also have two cats (Stanlely and Stella)."

Did he want to be a winemaker when he was younger? Hardly. “I don't think I ever really thought about that when I was little. Maybe a professional fisherman or something.”

I asked him to name a few of his favorite East Coast wines, but this a truncated list, including Dr. Franks Rkatsitelli, Millbrook Tocai Friulano, Whitecliff's Awosting White, Bedell Cellars’ Taste Red, Glenora's Cabernet Franc.

Asked what wine region he would most like to visit, he replied, “I would like to visit the Loire Valley to see how they produce Cabernet Franc, which I feel might make a good vinifera varietal for our property.”

I told you he was serious.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Hudson Valley Wines Getting Some Recognition

HUDSON VALLEY WINES may finally start getting some of the recognition and sales they deserve as a result of several new initiatives. The Dutchess Wine Trail worked with nearby Marist College under an NYWGF grant to develop a web site ( that not only describes the trail, wineries and wines, but also lets consumers buy them online on the spot. With leadership by Phyllis Feder (co-owner of Clinton Vineyards and President of the Dutchess Wine Trail) and Susan Wine (Rivendell Winery, Vintage New York, and Shawangunk Wine Trail), a “Hudson Valley Wines” regional branding program funded by NYWGF is now also underway. Another grant has funded a planning study for a Hudson River Valley Wine & Culinary Center , which appears to be another promising way to promote the historic region’s wines and foods, as well as other New York wines. Research capabilities in the region have also been expanded and upgraded, promising quality improvements in the future. Given its location just up the river from Manhattan , which is bordered on the west by the Hudson River , this region should be a natural magnet for City dwellers—who really need to get out more.