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, January 24, 2013

Rural Intelligence: Big Elm Brewing Grows in the Berkshires

Rural Intelligence Food
Christine and Bill Heaton

In Sheffield, Big Elm Brewing Branches Out

For hundreds of years, Sheffield’s festivals and town meetings were held at an elm tree so large that 300 people could fit beneath its boughs. Now there’s a new gathering spot where the tree once thrived.Big Elm Brewing, which opened in October on the corner of Route 7 and Silver Street, aims to bring beer enthusiasts together.
Each Saturday from noon to 4 p.m., owners Christine and Bill Heaton and their partners Jen and Russell Jaehnig open the airy warehouse to the public, offering free tastings and tours. On a recent afternoon, a steady stream of passersby sallied up to a small wooden bar to purchase growlers and sample more than a half-dozen microbrews. Among the day’s offerings were hickory-smoked Route 7 Rauschbier and the springy 413 Farmhouse Ale, flavored with lemon zest, chamomile, Bear Meadow Apiary’s honey, and pink peppercorns fromHimala Salt.
When the assembly reached a critical mass, Russell led the crowd to the 30-barrel metal vats in the back room, detailing the process that transforms humble grains of barley into hearty ales. Barrels of recently brewed Gerry Dog Stout, currently soaking up flavors of oak and bourbon, drew plenty of yearning looks.
All this is just the beginning of the community-oriented endeavor that the Big Elm crew envisions for their brewery. “I’d love to have a vegetable garden,” Christine says, her eyes gleaming with enthusiasm. “We could grow our own hops, and have rows of carrots by some picnic tables.” She imagines clearing out the brewery’s three acres of land to host beer festivals, town gatherings, and private parties. And when Big Elm starts running its canning machinery next month, they’ll be able to expand their reach even further.
Christine’s excitement is contagious. That’s because Big Elm’s story is about people following their passion — and figuring out where their passions lay in the first place.
Neither Christine nor Bill planned on a career in beer. After graduating from Millersville University with a degree in chemistry, Christine tried out life in laboratories and in Niger as a Peace Corps volunteer. When she returned stateside, she set her sights on working at a brewpub. But it wasn’t until she got a scholarship to train at the Siebel Institute of Technology in Chicago and Doemens Academy in Munich that she got her big break. “As a female brewer it’s sometimes harder,” she says. “It’s a very male-dominated industry, although that’s changing now.”
The scholarship helped her score a position with Victory Brewing Company in Pennsylvania. There, she met the man she would marry. Bill was a former photographer who’d grown tired of wedding and advertising shoots. Ready for a change, he penned a heartfelt letter about his desire to make beer and sent it out to 16 breweries.  “He started out cleaning kegs and worked his way up to head brewer at Victory,” Christine says. “It’s the quintessential home brewer’s dream.”
Rural Intelligence Food
Russell and Jen Jaehnig
In 2005, the couple moved to the Berkshires and opened the brewpubPittsfield Brew Works. But the stressful restaurant racket showed them that their hearts were really in brewing. They closed Brew Works in 2010 — and found partners for their new business in friends Jen, a history teacher at Pittsfield’s Herbert Middle School, and Russell, an executive chef at the catering company A Taste of Nantucket.
With four young children between the two couples, it’s no surprise that Big Elm is a family affair. Toy cars are scattered throughout the warehouse, and small children play peekaboo behind metal kegs. Other family members are getting in on the act, too. Jen’s father gathers fallen branches on his hikes, then sands them into one-of-a-kind tap handles. Even Christine and Bill’s beagle mix has a role to play: His furry mug graces the label of Gerry Dog Stout.
* * *
65 Silver Street
Sheffield, MA 01257
(413) 229-2348
Free tastings and tours each Saturday, noon to 4 p.m.

Read the whole article at:

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

SARATOGIAN: Upper Hudson Valley Wine Association Applies for Trail Status

Local wine trail proposed, but needs state Legislature's approval
Published: Monday, January 14, 2013

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Plans are in the works for a new wine trail in Saratoga and Washington counties that could be ready by summer 2014.
The project would include about a dozen local sites that belong to the recently formed Upper Hudson Valley Wine & Grape Association.

Organizers are seeking support from local government before going to state officials to get required legislation approved under the state’s Wine Trail Program.
“When you have several of these wineries work together, then you can bring people into an area to spend a weekend,” said Wine & Grape Association President Gerry Barnhardt, who owns Victory View Vineyard in Easton.

Firms in Saratoga County that might join the trail include Saratoga Winery on Route 29, Ledge Rock Hill Winery in Corinth and Johnston’s Winery in Ballston Spa.
“We’ve approached some of the individual towns,” Barnhardt said.

For example, he said Ledge Rock representatives have presented plans to the Corinth Town Board, and the Easton Town Board has already adopted a resolution of support. The Washington County Board of Supervisors is expected to take similar action this week.

Eventually, it’s hoped that Assemblyman Tony Jordan, R-Jackson, and state Sen. Betty Little, R-Glens Falls, will introduce bills in the Legislature. State approval is needed because the Wine Trail Program is administered by the state Department of Transportation, which puts up signs directing travelers to various wineries.
There are already several other New York wine trails in places such as the Finger Lakes and eastern Long Island. It’s possible that a measure could be introduced and passed during the current legislative session that ends in June. However, Barnhardt said, “It wouldn’t surprise me at all if it takes until next year. Sometimes it takes a while for bills to get through the Legislature.”

A bill approved next year would make the wine trail ready for use in 2014.
Barnhardt said two main factors have recently made Saratoga and Washington counties attractive to vintners.

The first is the availability of land. Several vineyards are located on former dairy farms.
Also, the University of Minnesota and Cornell University have developed new cold-hardy, northern grapes that are suitable for this climate.

Joseph Messina, owner of Amorici Vineyard in Valley Falls, said there’s a distinct advantage to doing business in the Upper Hudson region.
“Logistically, it’s closer to New York City and the densely populated Hudson Valley than the Finger Lakes,” he said.

However, the weather can be more challenging. Unusual late-summer hurricanes in the past two years brought huge amounts of rain that can cause fungal disease among plants.
“The Finger Lakes didn’t get that,” Messina said.

He presented several of his wines to teams of college chefs last week at the American Culinary Federation’s second annual Conference and Competition at Skidmore College.
“Everybody likes a different wine,” Messina said. “That’s what makes the world go ’round.”

Read the whole thing at:


Hudson Valley magazine Lauds Pazdar Chocolate Wines

Congratulations to David Pazdar, who's Pazdar Winery introduced chocolate wines more than 15 years ago, well ahead of the trend, and whose wines are always among the most popular at any winery event!!! David created the chocolate craze here in the metropolitan region!

Cerise Chocolat and Eden's Pleasure have been staples of almost any farmers market and wine festival from the Finger Lakes, to the Capital region to the lower Hudson Valley. David is a ubiquitous presence in New York for almost two decades, and has won a number of medals and awards.
David specializes in dessert wines and alsomakes more classically balanced traditional wines as well. But his stand is always packed, at any wine event. People just love his wines. And you couldn't meet a nicer guy!!!!
Perfect for Valetine's day...or any night....enjoy!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Whitecliff Sky Island 2010...grapes aren't the only things growing at Whitecliff

Whitecliff grows their own grapes. Their vineyard holdings are extensive and they are continually planting more. But the vineyards and the grapes aren't the only thing growing. The buildings are expanding too!!!

Michael Migliore co-owns the winery with his wife, Yancey. Brad is the winemaker. Paul Gioquindo is Asst. winemaker, and has been their many years, as well as an affable salesman at festivals in a pinch! Michael and Yancey have overseen the winery from a couple thousand cases, to now one of the larger wineries in the valley. And they are a leader in creating great quality wines.
Along with the birth of a number of new wineries, distilleries, and cideries, Whitecliff's expansive growth is another good sign of the burgeoning wine industry in the Hudson Valley and New York.
This is a photo of the winery from inside their huge new production facility.
New tanks of various different sizes and shapes. Hoses running throughout.
Barrels here, and barrels there. They can be found inside and outside the winery, and yet, Michael is on the lookout for more.

OK, so now you want to know about the wine. Whitecliff Sky Island Red Wine 2010 is a full bodied Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Malbec. This is a Bordeaux-styled red dry red. Aged in oak, this classic wine shows lovely cherry and raspberry, and hints of cassis up front. There's good acidity and well balanced tannins...with hints of vanilla and spices. A lovely smooth finish. A wine you can definitely age for four or five years, and it will only show better.

A lovely, lovely, complex dry red blend. Whitecliff does it again.

Brookview Station Jo-Daddy's Hard Cider

OK, so I'm a little late. But this is still an important post. Brookview Station, easily one of the most decorated and highly awarded of the fruit wine makers in the valley has stretched a little in order to join the cider world. In the past, Brookview contented itself with apple wine, where is won many gold medals for their Whistle Stop White.

But now they have added a cider to their list - Jo-Daddy's Hard Cider It's available in Growlers (64oz) produced with fresh pressed Apple Cider by Goold Orchards. Master Cider Maker "Joe Daddy" Ciccolella worked with Ed Miller to make this "Gluten Free" Beverage.

Here's an excerpt from JOANNE E. MCFADDEN For The Daily Gazette:

Goold Orchards in Castleton is the only Capital Region hard cider maker on the Cider Route. The orchard has been making apple wine since 2006 under the label Brookview Station Winery, but it just began producing hard cider in August in response to customers’ requests.

Co-owner Sue Goold said that they experimented with different combinations in order to find just the right one. When yeast is added to unpasteurized soft cider and fermented, hard cider is the result.

"We tried different combinations of different cider with different yeast,” she said, noting that they experimented with three yeasts. It’s the byproduct given off during the process of the yeast eating the sugar to make alcohol that lends the hard cider its flavor.

"We chose three yeasts, tried them all, and then let people taste test them,” Goold said. The third weekend in November, the orchard introduced a new flavor, an apple-cranberry hard cider called

“Joe-Daddy’s.” Hard cider is only 6 percent alcohol, which is one of the reasons it has become popular, according to Goold. “People like to be drinking lower alcohol,” she said.

Economically, hard cider is a good value-added product for orchards because the fermentation time required is similar to beer, much shorter than the four to six months required for wine.

It's fantastic! Go to Brookview and try some! And pair it with their cassis to make a Hudson Valley Cider Cassis Royale!

Read the DailyGazette article:

Robibero Artic Riesling

Always a big fan of Robibero Vineyards. Tiffany and Ryan run the day to day operations with their family. And Kristop Brown kicks in on the winemaking.

As this new winery continues to mature, it's clear that there is a new winery in town determined to create quality wine, and two young marketers, who are determined to make a serious go of it.

Evidence of their success was clear with the release earlier this year with Arctic Riesling. The wines is barrel aged for 8 months. This light, dry white has a wonderful tropical nose, with crisp acidity and pineapple notes. This is a unique wine, with a lovely, lovely finish. Complex, and perfect to pair with Asian dishes, but also perfect to pair with chicken or cheese. Also perfect to  drink by the fire, whether its inside on a cold winter night, or by the camp fire on a sultry summer's evening.


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Millbrook Chardonnay Two Block West 2010

There is no denying that Millbrook is the current crown jewel of Hudson Valley wine. A steady stream of quality wines has flowed from there almost since they opened their doors. Current winemaker John Graziano is one of the nicest and most experienced winemakers in the valley, and his wines can stand up among any number of wines from around the world. Following in the footsteps of their Castle Hill Chardonnay (which was replanted after the 2007 vintage) Millbrook introduced this Chardonnay designation with their 2008 vintage. Like it predecessor, the wine was light and delicate. Elegant, with notes of butterscotch and honeysuckle. Pears and apples combined with lots of mineral textures to create an excellent experience. Aged for 10-11 months in oak, the wine exuded vanilla, caramel, and a hint of spices. A smooth, long lasting finish. An exceptional wine!!! Fantastic! Another incredible wine from Millbrook!

Organic Wine in the Hudson Valley: Clearview Vineyard Estate Noiret 2010

If you ask Frank and Karen Graessle, they will tell you they make organic wines. And they do! But when they first started out, they had a mishap.

The recently finished winery building.
“We used a Dupont product that we thought was organically approved for the first two years of growing and then found that it is not approved in New York State, but was approved in other states. We switched to an approved product that was almost identical, but approved in New York State for organic certification two years ago. To receive organic certification you must prove that you have grown your grapes for three years with only products that are approved. We will seek organic certification of our grapes this fall [2013]. Until then we consider our grapes to be organic, but they cannot be certified organic [in NY until then].”

The estate Noiret is grown organically in their vineyards. This hybrid grape was developed by Cornell Research Foundation, Inc. and named in July 2006. It is a cross of NY33277 x Chancellor x Steuben which produces a deep red color wine with pronounced cherry and berry fruit aromas. Due to its vigorous growth and susceptibility to black rot, and its propensity for low productivity, Karen and Frank consider it the most difficult grape they grow. But let me tell you, it is a success. The wine is a dark purple with big fruit flavors up front, including plum, cassis, and prune. Hints of vanilla too. Well balanced acidity and soft tannins make it very drinkable. Very, very nice.


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Altamont Vineyards a Quality Addition to the Hudson Valley

Some time during the last summer, Dominique and I visited Altamont Vineyard Winery.
Mike DiCrescenzo, and his father Louis DiCrescenzo, co-owners of Altamont Vineyard and Winery in Altamont. The DiCrescenzo family bought vineyard a few years ago. But they have really turned the place around and are making wonderful wine. I have always been a great big fan of their Leon Millot Reserve. It is a tremendous quality wine. But what of the others?

Mike and Jessica Harding in the vineyards showing off their fruit this season. The vineyards were lush and full. The place was chock-a-block with ripe fruit. Altamont has two lines of wines, one fruity and flavorful, and the other, dry wines made along more classic lines.


While we were there we tasted some wines.
According to the winery, "This wine is a tribute to the Vineyard’s founder. Against all advice he started the first commercial vineyard in the Capital District." The wine is made from St. Croix grapes which were planted in 1995. The wine was aged in oak in 12 months. As advertised, the wine has a nice cherry profile, and has a nice balance of tannin and spice. A very nice table red.
This is a lovely classic chardonnay. This wine was produced using grapes harvested from an award winning vineyard on Seneca Lake. The wine has the elegant highlights one expects from a quality wine from this grape, with refreshing lemon citrus and apple with flirty mineral notes and a hint of oak. A really lovely wine.
This wine was a medal award winner at the Indy International Wine Competition. This was an excellent wine. Great tropical fruits, green apple, and a citrus ending. Light and beautiful.
Some great wines are being made there. You need to go and try them. And say Mike and Jennifer I said Hi!....I should have written this article months ago! 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Registar Star Highlights Craft Brewing in the Hudson Valley

This is a great article about the rise in craft brewing in our region and around the country. Nice mentions of Chatham Brewing this article. Click on the article to enlarge and read!

Captain Lawrence Captain's Kolsch

Not sure what the hell Kolsch is? Kölsch is a local beer specialty that is brewed in Cologne, Germany. It is a clear beer with a bright, straw-yellow hue, and has a prominent, but not extreme, hoppiness. It is less bitter than the standard German pale lager.
According to Wikipedia: Kölsch is warm-fermented at a temperature around 13 to 21°C (55 to 70°F) and then cold-conditioned, or lagered.  This manner of fermentation links Kölsch with some other beer styles of central northern Europe, such as the Altbiers of northern Germany and the Netherlands. In Europe, Kölsch is strictly defined by the Kölsch Konvention, an agreement between the members of the Cologne Brewery Association. It is a pale, highly attenuated, hoppy, clear, top-fermenting beer with an original gravity of between 11 and 16 degrees Plato (1.044—1.065). In practice almost all Kölsch brands have a very similar gravity near the middle of this range.

Of course, many breweries in America make Kolsch-styled beers.
Recently I had the opportunity to try a Captain Lawrence Captain’s Kolsch. The color was a light yellow clear beer. Nice head, but it doesn’t linger too long. Which is stylistically correct.

Kolsch of course has some hops in it, but this version is a lot hoppier than most. Since I like hops,I was down with it. But for those who are initiated with hops, it will strike you at first. Just relax and drink. It’s great!
Grassy and fragrant hops come out of the glass. Nice bready smell as well.  Good carbonation.

Went incredibly well with food…but you could drink a six pack of these puppies without thinking.