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.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Miscellany News Reports Millbrook "A Gem"!

Millbrook Vineyard & Winery a Hudson Valley gem
By Sarah Begley
Published: Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, February 15, 2012 14:02

The Millbrook Vineyards & Winery, established in 1985, has perfected more than a dozen wines, including the Hunt Country Red and Chardonnay pictured above. The winery sees 15,000 annual visitors.

Even in winter when the vines are barren, the drive through the vineyards of Millbrook is bleakly striking. Ascending the road that cuts through the neat rows of vegetation, the driver can see nothing but grape vines on all sides—an uncommon and breathtaking view in the Hudson Valley.

Millbrook Vineyards & Winery is just a half-hour drive from Poughkeepsie, and its wines are sold at the nearby Arlington Wine and Liquor. The company was established in 1985, and since then, winemaker John Graziano has perfected more than a dozen wines, such as Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc. Annually, the winery produces $2 million in sales and hosts 15,000 visitors, making it the fourth most popular tourist spot in Dutchess County.

The winemaking process begins in the vineyards, of which there are 30 acres. Two employees work in the vineyards throughout the year, and during the harvest season in September and October, they bring in four to five extra workers. In March, they will begin pruning the plants for this year's harvest.

Before its life as a vineyard, the land was once used as dairy farm. As a result, the winery technically cannot market itself as organic because they don't know what kind of chemicals may have once been used on the soil. Now the land is part of the Dutchess Land Conservancy, and they make a great effort to use natural farming techniques like composting all discarded stems, seeds and skins for the next year's fertilizer.

As Director of Sales Scott Koster explained, this attention to the quality of the growing conditions is critical because "you can't make a good wine without good grapes."

From the vineyards, the grapes travel inside to the winery, where red and white wines are processed in different rooms. "The biggest difference between making the red and the white," Koster said, "is [for red] we need the skins. The longer the skins stay in, the more flavor and color."

Most of the whites are produced in large stainless steel open-top fermenters, but the reds rest in oak barrels for anywhere from nine months to one-and-a-half years. This, as well as aging the reds in French oak barrels, softens the tannins, which are astringent chemical compounds found in wood and other plant-derived materials.

One exception to this division is the Chardonnay, about half of which gets barrel-fermented. The neutral-flavored French oak wood barrels give the wine it a "subtle, vanillin, caramel quality," said Koster.

While some wines, like Chardonnay, consist of only one grape varietal, many others are a blend. Koster explained, "the most important thing a winemaker does is blending," and Graziano has spent a great deal of time finding the perfect balance in wines like their Hunt Country Red, which combines Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel.

The barrels for the wine cost from $800 to $1000 and last 10 to 12 years, so they are a huge investment for the winery. Each barrel holds 300 bottles worth of wine, and during the bottling process, 400 to 500 cases can be bottled a day.

Eventually, this long process pays off by showcasing the grapes in their best possible flavor profiles. Koster said of visitors to the winery, "People sometimes ask, how do you get this blueberry taste in the wine? Well, you don't. That flavor is already in the grape. It's very natural."

The vineyard's proprietor, John Dyson, has a history of emphasizing excellence in agriculture. In 1975, he served as New York State's youngest-ever Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce. He owns vineyards in the Finger Lakes and on Long Island, whose grapes the winery often blends with those from Millbrook, as well as others in California and Italy. As Commissioner of Commerce in the '70s, he oversaw the famous "I Love New York" tourism campaign, and the iconic logos from the advertisements are printed on the labels of the wine bottles and etched onto glasses at the winery.

Koster said it's especially interesting to produce wine in New York State because "all wines [here] are a little lighter in style, and they have fabulous acidity, so they're great with food." Of course, the terrain presents certain challenges and limitations as well. Only cool condition grapes work here, and the humid summers can make the harvesting process unpredictable.

When asked why Dyson chose Dutchess County, his home region, as a good place to make wine, Koster said, "I think it was a big challenge for the owner, and I think he wanted to prove it could be done. It's one of the oldest wine-growing regions in the US, and he wanted to prove we could make a world-class wine here, and we've proved it."

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