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, March 26, 2011


Hudson-Chatham Winery's Baco Noirs have had a great pat couple of months. Hudson-Chatham's two Baco Noirs - Baco Noir Reserve Casscles Vineyard and Baco Noir Old Vine Masson Place Vineyard Pulteney Farm - have gathered tremendous press and awards.

Recently, the New York Cork Report had this to say about their Baco Noir Old Vines:
"Shows ripe black cherry and plum aromas on the nose with a little cranberry and a healthy dose of vanilla and oak. Rich and fuller bodied there is an intensity to the black cherry flavors here with vanilla to round it out. Layers of chocolate and oak bring a little complexity before a sour cherry/cranberry note emerges on the medium-length finish. Fresh but balanced acidity provides most of the structure here keeping it from being too soft or flabby. Acidity isn't uncommon in red hybrids but it's not excessively high here like it can be."

Read more at:

And the All Over Albany had this to say about their Baco Noir Reserve:
"The Hudson-Chatham Winery's Baco Noir Reserve is a clear and bright garnet. To me it smells of tart red fruit, and offers the impression of strawberries and tart cherries. I also get a little bit of sweet barnyard hay. On the tongue it is less fruity, but it's filled with bright acidity and enough tannin to give it some structure. The finish leaves me with a lingering notion of cranberries. This wine would go well with something that was rich and did not have a lot of competing flavors, like a simple roast chicken, or bacon wrapped pork loin. "

Read more at:

The Baco Noirs also just won some medals at some prestigious wine competitions:

Baco Noir Old Vines 2009 just won a Bronze Medal at The Dallas Morning News Wine Competition 2011

Baco Noir Reserve Casscles Vineyards 2009 just won a Bronze Medal at The Grand Harvest Awards Wine Competition 2011
Congrats to winemaker Steve Casscles and manager Ralph Cooley.



To kick off the 2011 season, the HBBT is sponsoring the Pasta & Sauce Event. Passport holders can sample a complimentary pasta dish at each participating member establishment, when they purchase a tasting flight. Whether you want to try award-winning wines, hand-crafted, nano-ales, or small batch artisanal spirits, the Hudson Berkshire Beverage Trail has a winning combination that can’t be beat.

Guests may visit any trail member of their choice, and pay the normal tasting fees, or buy a Trail Passport, and receive a great discount, that gets them into all the participating trail locations FREE!

Passport Members get:

* complimentary free tasting flights of wine, beers, and spirits at all locations on the specified date
* free pasta

This is a great value! Passports will be available for $15 on the day of the event at each participating venue!

Special Designated Driver Passport: $5 with complimentary pasta!


Shwangunk Wine Trail Pasta Primo Vino April 16th and 17th 2011

Pasta Primo Vino

Menus set for Shawangunk 'Pasta Primo Vino'

Wine goes nicely with so many foods, but for some reason pasta stands out for me. Luckily, the members of the Shawangunk Wine Trail feel the same way. Thus, the "Pasta Primo Vino" spring event that has drawn participation of all 11 trail members.The event, which will from from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. the weekend of April 16-17, will offer different pasta dishes at each winery, paired with their own wines. Some of the wineries will be offering new releases to sample and, if you're in the mood, purchase.Two levels of tickets are available: Wine taster ($23.76), which includes a wine glass, wine tastings and tapas tastings at all 11 wineries; designated drivers ($5.40), which includes pasta tastings but no wine glass or wine tastings. (The odd prices reflect the inclusion of sales tax.) Each ticket is good for one day only. At the door, tickets are $30 each. If you order early, 10% discounts are available. Go here for April 16, and here for April 17 ticket details. (Use discount code newsltrmarch.)

So, what's cooking:• Adair Vineyards: Southwestern pasta bean salad• Applewood: Spring pasta salad with fresh vegetables and lemon vinaigrette• Baldwin Vineyards: Baked rigatoni with ricotta and fresh basil.• Benmarl Vineyards: Gnocchi in a sage butter sauce• Brimstone Hill Vineyards: French pasta Provencal• Brotherhood Winery: Orzo with mushrooms• Glorie Farm Winery: Sassy peanut pasta• Palaia Winery: Pasta quattro formaggi with semolina bread• Stoutridge Vineyards: To be decided.• Warwick Winery: Pasta and homemade sweet sausage, shaved fennel• Whitecliff Vineyards: Cacio e Pepe, a cheese and black pepper pasta

Tour 11 wineries sampling different wines and pasta dishes at each. Includes sampling of wines, food & a souvenir wine glass. $25.34 includes tax
April 16th April 17th

Read more at:

Sunday, March 20, 2011


I am way behind the times. I just found this out. It's great news. Kristop Brown is back making wine in the Hudson Valley. Kristop is now practicing his craft over at Robibero Vineyards in New Paltz.

That's a really smart and great move for the Robibero family, and it's great news for Hudson Valley wine.

Kristop was the former winemaker at Benmarl. He is an excellent craftsman, and I certianly considered him one of the most technically gifted winemakers in the Valley.

I could not be happier for him! And for the rest of us. Congrats to the Robibero family! And congrats to Kristop!


So we were at Brotherhood yesterday, and hung out with Tour Guide Dave. Dave has been leading tours and tastings at Brotherhood for 20 years. He's seen a few things happen there. We've tasted with him several times, when we can't get a hold of or don't want to bother Cesar Baeza, the President of Brothehood Winery.

So the first thing we tried with Dave was a Blanc de Blanc. It was a nice, smooth, lovely wine with lot's of fresh bread smell on the nose, and lovely fruit on the palate, with solid acidity and a nice dry finnish. At $10 a bottle, it's an outstanding value. I'd just reviewed it in February, so I was not surprised.

But the biggest surprise was when Dave said, "And the fruit comes from Columbia County!" Now, we've known that Brotherhood has vineyards in Columbia county, but we'd never had one of the wines pointed out to us.

Here was a fantastic wine grown right in Columbia County! The vineyards are overseen by Greg Esch. We see Greg, usually annually, at the grape growing seminars that happen each year in Kingston. The Brotherhood Blanc de Blanc is a real local wine.

I asked Dave if he had another wine that was from Greg esch's vineyards, and he pulled out the Pinot Noir. Now, I have to admit, I've been on a Pinot Noir jag lately. It's just where I am at. I still love a big heavy, over ripe California wine like Turley, for example, but more and more I'm moving back towar a more balanced, European style. More approachable wines.

So, any way we tried the Pinot Noir. Big fruit up front, lot's of fine cherry and a hint of plum and strawberry. It was bright, and fresh. with low acidity and low tannins. The wine finished dry and smooth. A very nice, light-to-medium bodied Pinot Noir. Perfect for spring and summer dishes, and great with some fresh, Hudson Valley cheese!

Two wonderful wines, and they are both grown in the vineyard on the Columbia County side of the Rip Van Winkle Bridge. This was very, very good!

Congrats to Cesar, and Greg, and yes, Dave too!


Folks from Tuthilltown Distillery, Kegan Ales, Benmarl Winery, Harvest Spirits Distillery, and Berkshire Distillery were all featured. The Hudson Valley is becoming more and more well known amongs wine, beer, and spirit experts.

Above, Matt Specarelli, the ubiquitous general manager and winemaker at Benmarl Winery, can be found in a fashion spread of this month's Men's Journal.

And Harvest Spirits' Derek Grout is seen here standing next to his copper, wrench in hand. In the April issue (on newsstands now): Source Code’s Jake Gyllenhaal takes our writer on a rigorous, revealing bike ride and reflects on his new life as a leading man; Paul Solotaroff reports from Yellowstone National Park, where global warming wreaks havoc on flora and fauna; and we present our annual rundown of the best places to live in the U.S.

Congrats, gentlemen!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Benmarl Merlot 2008

Benmarl is one of my favorite wineries in the Hudson Valley. I am a sucker for history. And of all the places in the Valley, only one other operating winery has as much, nearby Brotherhood. Benmarl rests on the vineyards originally founded by Andrew Caywood, one of the grestest hybridizers in American history when it comes to grapes. It's his vineyards, originally established before the Civil War, that make Benmarl's vineyards the oldest continously operating vineyards in the United States.

Secondly, the winery, Benmarl, was the brain child of celebrted magazine illustrator Mark Miller, who established Benmarl in 1957, revitalizing Caywoods vineyards. Miller fought for the Farm Winery Act back in the 1970s with John Dyson, and was eventualy rewarded with bonded license No. 1 as the first farm winery in New York state. Mark Miller also made some nice wines. And his son, Eric Miller, eventually went on to start Chaddsford Winery in the Brandywine region of Pennsylvania, now that state's largest commercial winery.

Now Benmarl is owned by the Speccarelli family. Vic Speccarelli, Jr. is the owner, and his son Matt runs the winery now.

Last night Dominique and I were in the mood for a nice red. Normally when I think of Benmarl, I think of their Baco Noir, which is practically a cult wine here in the Valley. But instead I pulled out a Merlot 2008.

The color was a beautiful dark garnet red. The first whiffs of the wine yielded raspberry and and cherry, notes of vanilla and mocha. Tere was big, dark fruit up front on the palate, with dark raspberry and dark cherry coming through, with some leather or fall leaves...something earthy. This was a lovely wine to chew on. The fruit was balanced by medium acids, and medium tannins, which gave the wine great balance. The finish was smooth and comfortable, but just right. This was a lovely drinking merlot with lots of flavor and character.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Ledge Rock Hill Winery Wins Double Gold at Florida State Fair

Nestled in the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains in Corinth NY, Ledge Rock Hill Winery is located in the lake region of Northern Saratoga County. They are situated between Saratoga Springs and Lake George, and within miles of The Great Sacandaga Lake.

They are a family run operation with a dedicated love and appreciation for the art of fine wine making. Ledge Rock Hill specializes in limited vintage production, hand-crafted wines made from premium grapes.

One of the premium grapes Gary's been working with for more than three years is Marquette, a new varietal from the University of Minnesota program. Uinversity of Minnesota has come up with some really ineresting grapes in the last five or ten years, and right now really have accomplished more than any other breeding program in recent years, public or private.

2011 Florida State Fair awarded Ledge Rock Hill Winery Marquette 2009 double Gold.

"We're very, very proud. I've been working with this grape a long time. It's terrific, especially when you consider when went from double Gold to the sweepstakes round, and lost to a very expensive California wine. And it was a real thrill especially when you think about what kind of year 2009 was," said owner Gary Akrop. Gary and his wife Deborah also offer at the winery, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Old Vine Zinfandel.
Congrats to the "Winery in the Woods" as Gary likes to call it. Can;t wait for them to reopen in the spring!

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Palaia Vineyards - Great Wine in the Hudson Valley

Palaia Vineyards, pronounced "Pa-Lie-Ahh", is named for the winemaker's grandfather, Angelo Palaia who emigrated here from Italy and passed his winemaking skills on to his son and grandson. Jan and Joe Palaggi bought Sweet Clover Farm that has been in the Hudson Valley for over 200 years. Once a dairy farm, it is now home to over 10 acres of vineyards with more planned for the future. The 200- year old bank barn had been restored over the last 3 years and is now a beautiful, clean winery on the lower level, with storage and a tasting room above preserving the look and feel of the historical building. The barn required major structural re-engineering, and was lovingly restored.

I recently visited Jan at the winery. First I went down stairs to see the tank room. To make the space usable down stairs, they had to lower the floor by almost three feet, and poured a brand new floor.

The size of the barn down stairs provided exceptional space for many, many tanks. At the far end of the barn, they had obliterated the floor, thus giving the downstairs a room that reaches more than 20 feet into the air, where they rested three huge 1,200 gallon variable capacity jacketed stainless steel tanks.

Everything was clean and bright, and well taken care of. Jan was right to be proud of her set up in the tank room.

Upstairs, I was pleased to see a beat-up, dog-eared copy of WOODSTOCK: Three Days That Rocked the World, Edited by Mike Evans and Paul Kingsbury with a foreword by Martin Scorsese on one of the tables in her tasting room, since it was published by Sterling Publishing Company. It might seem silly to point that out, but it's not. It's an important point about Palaia Vineyards - they were into Woodstock and classic rock. Peace signs and tie-dye are ubiquitous in the tastingroom, which is a part of who Jan and Joe are. And they love music.

The tastingroom is beautifully appointed. The walls of the tasting room say "old barn," but the style of the room is much more sophisticated than that. The room is festooned with antique furniture and shelves all of which feature their wines.

OK, the wines.

But first a note about the labels. They are very fun. Each label features a vintage photo that date as far back as the 1800’s on both sides of their family, but sometimes they sneak a modern one in there just for fun. The photos are on display at the winery along the stairway entrance to the tasting room.

The first wine I had was a Merlot 2005. The wine was incredible. It was a light-to-medium bodied red, with a nice medium-to-deep color. There was a lot of bright raspberry and vanilla on the nose, and both came through on the palate. Great fruit, with nice acidity and smooth tannins. It was very lovely, almost Burgundian in style. Wonderful!

The second wine I had was the Cabernet Franc 2006. The wine was a beautiful bright red in the glass. Here, there was bright cherry on the nose, with a whiff of vanilla. Again, beautiful light fruit up front, bright , bright sour cherry, almost like a Pinot Noir. But with the classic touch of pepper so common to Cab franc, it finished smooth, with medium acidity and soft but persistent tannins. Again, very, very nice.

The last one I tried was their Lemberger 2006. I am not a fan of Lemberger. I have had a slew of New York Lembergers and I have not been overwhelmed. The Lemberger I have liked best was down from New Jersey where their number of hot sunny days made the difference for me. Many NY state Lembergers are made into blends, but Palaia's is straight 100% estate grown Lemberger. So I tried Jan's Lemberger with some trepidation. Palaia's wine had a deeper color, with a nose that was a big hit of bright sour cherry. There was a touch of smokiness to it. But the fruit was bright and fresh. This was in actuality a nice, soft wine. The nice thing about Palaia's version of this grape was that the fruit was there, but it wasn't overpowering. Again, it was in the realm of a light-to-medium Pinot Noir. Many Lembergers are high in acidity with tannins of varying degrees. This had a nice combination of acidity and tannins. There was great mouthfeel on this wine. It finished smooth and evenly. A wonderful wine. Instantly my favorite New York state Lemberger!

Palaia is a fun place to visit. They have two large rooms off the tasting room - one is a banquet room, and the other is an enclosed, heated porch where often feature musical guests.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Art & Wine Cupcake Challenge from Hudson Valley Wine magazine

Hudson Valley Wine Magazine invites pastry chefs and professional bakers from
the Hudson Valley to participate in an Art & Wine Cupcake Challenge – creating an
original recipe using a Hudson Valley wine as an ingredient.

Up to (9) cupcake bakers will be included in their challenge and will be featured at
the “Hudson Valley Art & Wine – A Grand Celebration” event in the historical and
illustrious setting of Lyndhurst National Historic Site in Westchester on May 20 and
21, 2011.

This premier event will feature select Hudson Valley wines and the major artists
who are presently creating artworks inspired by the local wineries and the area’s
breathtaking beauty.

Your cupcake must include a Hudson Valley wine
as an ingredient, and must be decorated to fit the event’s theme
of Hudson Valley Art & Wine.

(select a wine from the list of wineries at left)
Attendees of the event will vote for their favorite cupcake based on three criteria:
1) originality, 2) taste, and 3) decoration. The cupcake with the highest overall
score will win the challenge.
The winner of the Art & Wine Cupcake Challenge will receive a cash prize
of $250, publicity and press opportunities, and have their recipe featured in the
summer issue of Hudson Valley Wine Magazine!
What’s in it for your business?
By participating at the event and sampling approximately 300 pieces of
your signature cupcake (bite-sized) you will receive:
• Mention and link in our publicity and promotion
• E-blast mention and link (2,500+ subscribers)
• Signage mention and placement at the event
• Two tickets on the day you attend ($150 value)
• Sampling table where you can personally sample your cupcakes to guests
who may not have been introduced to your business yet
Hudson Valley Art &Wine
The Art & Wine Cupcake Challenge
at Lyndhurst, 635 N Broadway, Tarrytown, NY
Friday, May 20, 2011, from 5:00 to 8:00 pm – Opening Night Gala
Saturday, May 21, 2011, from 1:00 to 6:00 pm

Select a wine from one of these local wineries:
Brookview Station
Glorie Farm
Warwick Valley

You must supply a minimum of (300) mini-cupcakes, pre-made upon arrival. A
baker, owner or a representative of your business will need to be present at either
the Friday night event (1 session available: 5–8pm), or for a minimum of 2-1/2
hours on Saturday (2 sessions available: Saturday 1–3:30pm; or Saturday
3:30–6pm). You should plan to spend additional time before and after the event
for set-up and cleanup. You may promote your business with cards and brochures
and a banner at the event.

The fee to participate in this challenge is $50. To be selected, email your contact
information along with a description of the cupcake you plan to make for the
challenge including the wine you will use, and include a photo of what the final
cupcake will look like. Indicate which session you would like to attend.

Entry Deadline: March 30, 2011

Approximately (9) entrants will be selected for the challenge (3 per session). If you are
not selected for the Challenge, your entry fee will be returned. If selected, you will
be asked to sign an agreement consenting to the above, and your session request
will be confirmed.

We welcome your participation and look forward to introducing your
business to our attendees, a savvy audience who loves food, wine,
cultural experiences – and cupcakes!

More information about Hudson Valley Art & Wine – A Grand Celebration at
Lyndhurst can be found at: or email us with