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

My Photo

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.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Queens Chronicle Highlights Brothehood, Brookview Station Wineries

Possibly America’s oldest, Brotherhood Winery, just one hour from Queens, is one of 43 wineries in the Hudson Valley that offer wine tastings and host special events.

A taste of Hudson Valley wineries
Posted: Friday, April 19, 2013 4:00 am
Queens Chronicle
by Tess McRae / Reporter

Planning a vacation can be stressful. The tedious process of booking flights, hotels and activities almost deflates the excitement one initially has when deciding to take one.

To avoid that stress, many people have been turning to day-long getaways or “daycations.” These daycations require little planning and naturally run cheaper than a week-long cruise to the Bahamas, and though a 24-hour excursion may not be as glamorous as spending spring break on the Cape, it can provide some quick-fix fun.

One way to take advantage of a beautiful day is to visit the Hudson Valley wineries.

Though most associate American wine with Napa Valley in California, some of the country’s oldest vineyards can be found a couple hours north of the city, wineries such as those established by the French Hugenots, who planted the first vines in 1677 in what is now New Paltz, nearly one hundred years before any vines were planted in California.

What makes the Valley a great place for vineyards is the unique combination of soil, climate and sun that results in ideal grape-growing conditions.

The region runs long, from northern Westchester County to the city of Troy, making for a wide spectrum of temperatures and climates.

“Each county has its own little area and its own microclimate,” said Karen Gardy, a board member for the Hudson Valley Wine Country collective. “On the lower end of the Valley, the temperature can get about 10 degrees lower, earlier in the year. That lends itself to a wider variety of grapes and a wider variety of wines.”

For example, gamay noir, described as a medium-bodied red wine, is a clone of pinot noir and is made with a hybrid grape, as most modern-day wines are. But this particular grape can only be grown in Ulster County, and not in Rensselaer County, despite the areas being a mere 45 minutes apart.

It is because of this climate spectrum that the Valley can produce a wide variety of wines, both red and white.

A five-degree temperature difference can make for a bitter and sparse harvest or a juicy and flavorful crop of grapes.

But it is because of the region’s varied climates that Gardy and other wine aficionados say the vineyards of Hudson Valley produce some of the best quality wine in the country. To compare, Long Island, which also has a popular wine culture, is best for producing red wines. The Finger Lakes region yields mostly riesling.

“Because of all of these microclimates, when you go to a wine tasting in the Hudson Valley, you are going to sample a much wider variety of wines than you would on Long Island or the Finger Lakes,” Gardy said.

Winemaking is a delicate process that requires patience and a strong taste palate. Cornell University, which played an active role in supporting the Valley’s vineyards, even offers a degree in enology, the study of winemaking.

There are 43 wineries in the Hudson Valley, located as far north as Clinton Corners and as far south as Warwick.

Though each winery hosts individual wine-tasting sessions, the most popular option is to take a tour of the region and visit several wineries in one day.

“I highly recommend sampling wine at more than one winery,” Gardy said. “One area in the Hudson Valley will specialize in specific kinds of wine  and then another winery will offer something completely different.”

What gives the Hudson Valley an edge, aside from its microclimates and various grape species, is that the region can produce many other fruits.

“We make a lot of fruit wine,” Gardy said. “In fact, an apple wine that was produced here won Best Wine in 2007. And with the production of fruit wine, we often see many European tourists because fruit wine is traditionally European; so there’s that familiarity and appreciation there.”

In fact, when the French were going through their revolution, most, if not all of the grape-vines in France were destroyed. In order to repopulate the vineyards, the French went to the Hudson Valley, which they had once colonized, and used some of those vines., the official website for the organization, has a plan-a-tour feature that allows visitors to choose from a list of wineries to tour.

“This feature allows people to pick and choose which wineries they would like to go to and creates an itinerary with directions to each location,” Gardy said. “It’s really a handy tool and can help people choose the winery that will best suit them.”

Though the wines served at each winery differ, Gardy said the experience is relatively the same at each.

Generally, when guests arrive, they will be greeted by either the owner or the winemaker or, depending on the time of year, an attendant who is well versed in wine.

“After welcoming you, they would hand you what we call a tasting sheet,” Gardy said. “Each tasting sheet will list all of the wines the winery has to offer, as well as some notes on the overall taste of each wine.”

Taste sheets act as guides for those who are not familiar with the wine culture. Words such as “full-bodied” and “woody” are used to describe the taste and feel of each drink.

Typical wine tastings include four to six half-ounce samplings. While half an ounce may not seem like a lot, Gardy said it is the perfect portion for visitors to get a good sense of the wine without sloshing their way through a tour.

“Of course, if there is a particular wine that you enjoyed, you can have a second taste but half of an ounce is the perfect amount,” Gardy said. “I’ve been to some tastings where they serve an ounce and a half of each sampling. Over-pouring takes away from the experience because, if you are going to three or four wineries and are being served large portions, by the time you get to the third or fourth stop, you won’t be enjoying yourself any more.”

Two wineries that come highly recommended by Gardy are Brotherhood in Washingtonville and Oak Summit in Millbrook.

Brotherhood Winery boasts of being the oldest vineyard in the country and is a one-hour drive from the city.

Oak Summit serves pinot noir exclusively. But what it lacks in quantity, it makes up for in quality.

“They only grow the one type but it’s phenomenal there,” Gardy said. “They really are the standard for pinot noir in Millbrook.”

While Brotherhood and Oak Summit are favored, each winery in the region offers an original and flavorful experience.

In addition to ordinary tastings, wineries host special festivals that feature an array of food and speciality wines.

In June, the Shawangunk Hudson Valley Wine Trail will be hosting an international food festival. Attendees will receive a “passport” and tasting ticket for the weekend that will grant access to each of the wineries on the trail, with each stop representing a different country.

As wine is an alcoholic beverage, having a designated driver is always recommended. And to ensure that the sober members in your party have an enjoyable experience as well, many wineries offer “designated driver deals,” providing munchies and nonalcoholic beverages at  significantly lower prices.

The Hudson Valley Wine Country website lays out information on all the wineries in the region and descriptions of what they produce, along with a history of winemaking in the area. 

Read more at:


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Clinton Vineyards Seyval Blanc

Clinton Vineyards Seyval Blanc

This is among the most famous Seyval Blancs in the Hudson Valley. The winery was founded by Ben Feder, and was the toast of New York City for many years with gourmets and foodies alike. Clinton Vineyards specializes in Seyval Blanc. The wines has been served at the White House and was served at Chelsea Clinton's wedding. Birght, crisp, clean, refreshing, with zippy green apple and melon aromas. Fantastic!

Whitecliff Awosting White

Whitecliff Awosting White

A Hudson Heritage White Awosting is a blend of Vignoles and Seyval Blanc, the classic Hudson Valley grape. Dry and fruity at the same time, light, zesty and refreshing, with citrus and apricot flavor notes. Awosting is a great example of a Hudson Heritage White. Awosting is equally at home with a meal – from spicy Asian to simple fried chicken – or an afternoon cocktail with friends.

DOWD: Rip Van Winkle Wine & Cheese Festival MAY 11, 2013


AUTHOR: Bill Dowd

Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Rip Van Winkle Wine & Cheese Festival coming back

Picture 2
Sampling at a previous festival.
CATSKILL -- Despite the current erratic weather, organizers of the 7th annual Rip Van Winkle Wine & Cheese Festival are counting on clear skies and warm breezes.

The Fortnightly Club of Catskill will host the fundraiser for local parks from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday, May 11, at the Freightmaster's Building at Historic Catskill Point, 1 Main Street.

Attendees will be able to sample New York State wines and cheeses, shop from numerous craft and food vendors, and enjoy live music all on the banks of the Hudson River. Tickets are $20, available at the door.

Among the vendors will be Cabot Cheese, Acorn Hill Cheese, Grandpa Pete's sauce, Tango Cafe empanadas, Hooked On Desserts cupcakes, Catskill Sweet Sensations, Ruth Ann's Crafts, Theresa"s Totes, Sweet Rama's Goats Milk Soap, Goats and Gourmets and Barbara's World.

Among beverage tastings and sellers will be Pazdar Winery, Brookview Winery, Cereghino-Smith Winery, Knapp Vineyards, Glenora Wine Cellars and Cask and Rasher craft beers.

Monday, April 15, 2013


This post was taken from my East Coast Wineries blog. - C. DeVito

I am so tired of hearing about the ONE GRAPE theory. The theory is that each region needs one grape to help coalesce its message and sell its wines to the marketplace.
Are you freakin kidding me?

California has Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. So what? I’ve had tons of good other grapes from that region as well, Petite Verdot, Merlot, Zinfandel, Syrah, Petite Syrah, Malbec, Pinot Noir, and many more. Give me a break.

Bordeaux doesn’t have one grape. They have five! Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petite Verdot, and Malbec. And of course there’s Pinot Noir and Chardonnays in Burgundy.
Every region has diversity these days. It’s such a cop out from wine marketers, wine writers, and wine makers. It’s crap.

Is the wine from the region good? When you’re traveling with a group of wine writers and bloggers, that’s all they really care about. If a wine is good, wine writers will whisper to each other, “Did you try THAT ONE? Try it!” A nod, a wink, a raised eyebrow.What the abundance is of one grape is secondary. It’s not necessary. It’s a crutch for people who don’t have a better story to tell.

What’s more important is QUALITY. I think that we should name a grape, “Quality” and sell that!
Imagine what a wine region could sell by saying, “Our number one grape is quality!”

Yes, some bad wines get made in every region. California, France, Italy, and Germany are not immune. I’ve had plenty of skunked, corked, barnyard infected, fizzy, mushroom-y, and cloudy wines. Every region is loaded with them. Sweet wines. So what? Every region makes sweet wine. California makes more than any other region in the world.

I am so tired of it all.

I can tell you the one grape that any blogger, writer, editor, restaurateur, and distributor wants. The one varietal that no one declines. I can tell you the one every salesman wants to sell. I can tell you the one every customer will ask for. That “One Grape” is “Quality.” People who want sophisticated dry wines, what they are looking foris “Quality.”

The great thing about “Quality” is that anyone can do it, if they choose to. It doesn’t require massive irrigation fittings, netting, hedging, or fertilizer. It doesn’t require massive, expensive, or impossible to work new tanks or other machinery.  And it doesn’t matter if it’s estate or someone else’s vineyard.

And the nice thing is, quality can be transferred from one winery to another. Just as easy as easy as transferring bad barrels of wine affected by Bret into another winery’s barrel room or tank room. It’s just as easy as facebook or email. It’s as easy as sitting around the table, walking around the vineyard, or walking through the winery. Talking, teaching, learning, are the hallmarks of quality. Discovering best practices, best techniques, winemakers talking and tasting with other winemakers, establishing good habits….that’s how easy it is.

It’s easy to talk about quality. Admittedly, it’s slightly tougher to do it. But it’s not that hard. It doesn’t take gobs of money. But it does take gobs or effort.

And let me assure you whether it is the media in your tasting room, or restaurateurs, or the general public, if they go to a region, and taste one quality wine after another from tasting room to tasting room, that will become the hottest new region. Writers and consumers pick up quickly. Quality is what will make your mark. Not a slick ad campaign or some hyped up review. In wine, quality is the difference And the abundance of quality is success.

So to all winery owners I say try bottling “Quality”

And to the wine writers, bloggers, marketers, and restaurateurs, I say, hey, you’re right. We only need one grape, and its name is “Quality.”

Monday, April 08, 2013

Kentucky on the Hudson

Kentucky may be the Bordeaux of the bourbon world, but there’s an upstart region breaking into the game and garnering a lot of good reviews – the Hudson Valley! With six highly touted distilleries, the Hudson Valley has become one of the distilling capitals of the east coast. And now, there are four wonderful, flavorful bourbons being produced from top to bottom.

That’s right. Home to Henry Hudson’s Half Moon, the steamship, the Clearwater, the Culinary Institute of America, and the birthplace of the Hudson River School of Art, the Rockefellers, the Vanderbilts, and the Livingstons, as well as being the birthplace of American wine, the Hudson is also now home to a little bit of my Old Kentucky Home right there on the waters that cut through the heart of the Empire State.

The Hudson Valley is home to some of the hottest new distilleries in the east, and is fast gaining a reputation for fine distilled spirits. Tuthilltown Spirits in Gardner; Hillrock Estate Distillery in Ancram; Albany Distilling in Albany; Harvest Spirits in Valatie; Dutch’s Spirits in Pine Bush; and Catskill Distilling in Woodstock have created a small but impressive galaxy of high profile brands and products that have gained national attention.
The New York Times, Wine Enthusiast, Men’s Journal, Esquire, Imbibe magazine, and numerous other publications and websites have lauded this powerful little armada of high octane potables. Attention to the region was so intense that Tuthilltown, still run by its founder, Ralphn Erenzo, was bought by the U.K. distilling giant Grant, the largest whisky producer and distributor in the world.

Together, these companies have produced such amazing products as Hillrock Estate Solera Bourbon; Core Vodka; Tuthilltown Rye; Warwick Gin; Cornelius Applejack, Peace Vodka, Dutch’s Sugar Wash Moonshine, Ironweed Whiskey, and many others. This impressive list can be found in all the hippest bars throughout the New York metro-region, and especially in Gotham’s hippest and swankiest bars and speakeasies.

No other region in New York, or on the east coast, boasts that kind of distilling firepower.

But if there’s one thing that these companies have in common is that there’s a bourbon in most of their lines. And these bourbons are fast finding their way into Manhattan stores, restaurants and bars, and are gaining national recognition for their quality and their taste!

Two Fingers of Bourbon History

So what is Bourbon? According to Wikipedia, “Bourbon whiskey is a type of American whiskey – a barrel-aged distilled spirit made primarily from corn. The name of the spirit derives from its historical association with an area known as Old Bourbon, around what is now Bourbon County, Kentucky (which, in turn, was named after the French House of Bourbon royal family). It has been produced since the 18th century. While it may be made anywhere in the United States, it is strongly associated with the American South in general, and Kentucky in particular. Bourbon is served straight, diluted with water, over ice cubes, or mixed with soda and into cocktails, including the Manhattan, the Old Fashioned, and the mint julep. It is also used in cooking, especially competition barbecue.

The tradition of making whiskey became truly notable in the U.S. when the Whiskey Rebellion was a tax protest in the United States beginning in 1791, during the presidency of George Washington. Farmers, especially in Western Pennsylvania, used their leftover grain and corn in the form of whiskey as a medium of exchange were forced to pay a new tax. But that is not the history of Bourbon. That’s whiskey.
According to spirits expert Charles K. Cowdrey, “When American pioneers pushed west of the Allegheny Mountains following the American Revolution, the first counties they founded covered vast regions. One of these original, huge counties was Bourbon, established in 1785 and named after the French royal family. While this vast county was being carved into many smaller ones, early in the 19th century, many people continued to call the region Old Bourbon. Located within Old Bourbon was the principal Ohio River port from which whiskey and other products were shipped. "Old Bourbon" was stenciled on the barrels to indicate their port of origin. Old Bourbon whiskey was different because it was the first corn whiskey most people had ever tasted. In time, bourbon became the name for any corn-based whiskey.”

Bourbon's legal definition today varies somewhat from country to country, but many trade agreements require the name Bourbon to be reserved for products made in the United States. The Federal Standards of Identity for Distilled Spirits state that bourbon made for U.S. consumption must be made from a grain mixture that is at least 51% corn and aged in new, charred-oak barrels among other regulations.

Some think that Bourbon only comes from Kentucky. It only seems that way. “It has been reported that 97% of all bourbon is distilled and aged somewhere near Bardstown, Kentucky, which is home to the annual Bourbon Festival held each September, and has been called the "Bourbon Capital of the World." The Kentucky Bourbon Trail is made up of seven distilleries in Kentucky: Four Roses, Heaven Hill, Jim Beam, Maker's Mark, Town Branch, Wild Turkey, and Woodford Reserve.

Tennessee is home to other major bourbon producers, though three of the four main producers don't call the finished product bourbon. Jack Daniel's is a notable example. But the methods for producing Tennessee whiskey fit the characteristics of bourbon production, and "Tennessee whiskey" is legally defined under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

New York State of Mind
Tuthilltown Hudson Baby Bourbon is the veritable grand-dad of the Hudson valley bourbons. Ralph Erenzo and his team broke the hold Kentucky and Tennessee seemed to have on this famous brown spirit when they launched their first elixir Hudson Baby Bourbon. Hudson Baby Bourbon was and remains the first bourbon whiskey to be distilled in New York. This single grain bourbon is made from 100% New York corn and aged in small American Oak barrels. This unique aging process produces a mildly sweet, smooth spirit with hints of vanilla and caramel. This Bourbon was Tuthilltown’s first whiskey and the first legal pot-distilled whiskey made in New York state since prohibition.

“I picked up a little bottle of Hudson Baby Bourbon Whiskey from Tuthilltown Spirits in Gardiner, N.Y., not far from New Paltz. Tuthilltown is New York’s only distillery, and therefore makes New York’s only bourbon, as well as its only rye, vodka and corn whiskey,” wrote Eric Asimov in the New York Times in February 2007. “…I think it will make a delicious mint julep, and I’m looking forward to trying out my friend Jason’s recipe for the bourbon sidecar.”


Warwick Black Dirt Bourbon was released about a year ago. The first run of this potent potable sold out in the first few weeks. The demand was so incredible, writers and mixologists from all over the metro region alike were calling looking to get bottles shipped to them. Black Dirt refers to the region in the southern part of the Hudson Valley that borders New Jersey where the loamy soil is actually black and is famous for growing onions and corn. The dark, fertile soil left by an ancient glacial lake that once covered Thousands of acres of upstate New York is the base of these fields. The corn is locally grown in the famous black dirt and used to make the mash. Perfectly suited for growing crops such as corn, this Black Dirt has never been used for Bourbon production – until now.

“It’s easy to see why the stuff sold out so quickly: Made with a mashbill of 80 percent corn—grown in the black dirt, of course—12 percent malted barley and 8 percent rye, and aged for three years in charred oak barrels, the result is a dry, almost chocolaty whiskey with loads of local character,” wrote Kara Newman in Edible Manhattan’s February 2013 edition. “The way-too-limited-edition problem won’t be an issue this time, Kidde told me later. Warwick is in the process of building a second stand-alone distillery to increase production. A second, 100-proof bourbon is on the way; a rye and single malt American whiskey also have been discussed.
Hillrock Estate Solera Bourbon is raising lots of eyebrows. “Hillrock is the first U.S. distillery since before Prohibition to floor malt and hand craft whiskey on site from estate-grown grain, making them one of the world’s few “field-to-glass” whiskey producers.” Wrote Jonny McCormick in the Winter 2012 Whisky Advocate. “…It’s the outfit’s whiskey that will raise the most eyebrows. It’s a solera Bourbon, and, according to Master Distiller Dave Pickerell, it’s the first of its kind, since the solera system typically is only used in Sherry making. A gradual blending process, it involves topping off a few select older barrels with younger whiskey,” wrote Robert Simonson in the November 15, 2012 Wine Enthusiast.

“Hillrock further distinguished itself by building its own malting house. (Malting is the practice by which dampened, germinating barley is dried and thus halted in its growth; the grain can then proceed to fermentation.) A handful of Scotch producers still malt a portion of their barley, but the practice is all but extinct in the United States,” wrote Simonson, this time in the New York Times in October 2012.

Pickerell says he uses the Spanish technique to achieve both blending consistency and depth of flavor. “It will just continue to get deeper in character,” he says.

Highly acclaimed spirits authority David Wondrich wrote of Hillrock in Esquire magazine, “has the floral notes of a young whiskey tempered by the nuttiness of an older one.”

“It is a good whiskey, with a cinnamon-spicy, fruit-laced finish,” wrote John Hansell in Whiskey Advocate In July 2012. ‘There’s not going to be a lot of whiskey out of Hillrock, but I suspect we’ll be seeing more of them, and more of this type of high-end distillery…This is going to be part of the future of whiskey distilling, a small and very interesting part.”
Catskill Distilling Most Righteous Bourbon Is made by Monte Sachs,s the mater distiller at Catskill Distilling, in the Hudson Valley. He’s passionate about two things – chemistry and distilling. And he believes that local ingredients make the difference in quality and taste. reported, “Catskill Distilling Company’s Most Righteous Bourbon is the result of a collaboration between Sachs and Lincoln Henderson, the creator of Woodford Reserve Bourbon and Gentleman Jack Tennessee Whiskey. Sachs sources a mash of 70% corn, 20% rye and 10% malted barley from Cochecton Mills, a local farm in upstate New York, and then mills the grains inside his 5,000 square-foot distillery.”

According to Monte, “We’ve taken the best of Kentucky know-how and mixed it with New York ingenuity to produce our first, limited release aged spirit – a smooth, beautifully spicy, brilliant bronze bourbon.”

Seems a lot of folks agree. Caskers concluded, “Most Righteous Bourbon has a nose of caramel and fudge, with initial notes of butterscotch, toffee molasses and dried fruits. The flavors give way to slightly spicier notes of cinnamon, ginger and a touch of spice before leading to a soft, smooth finish. Most Righteous Bourbon earned the Gold Medal at The Fifty Best Tasting Competition in 2012 and was “highly recommended” in the F. Paul Pacult’s Spirit Journal.”

I had this bourbon, and I have to agree. This is a big, warm, brown bottle of just gorgeous bourbon.
Albany Distilling Ironweed Bourbon Whiskey Is made by owners John Curtin and Matthew Jager who are proud to be a part of New York State's rich heritage of spirit production. They are located right next to the Pump Station in downtown Albany.

Albany Distilling is among the newer of the distillers of the region. Ironweed is an homage to Albany's indomitable spirit. Nearly a century after Prohibition ended Albany's rich tradition of distilling spirits, Ironweed whiskey captures the both the essence of a bygone era and the spirit of modern innovation.

Made exclusively from whole grain, water, and yeast, Ironweed acquires its rich color and much of its distinctive flavor from time spent aging in oak. It is produced in small batches using New York State grain, and great care is taken on every step along the way; it is truly a craft spirit, from mill to bottle.

All of these are big, lux bourbons, each with a different style. Some are big and robust, some are leaner and better for mixing. But either way, you tell anyone you know that they should be trying these new bourbons, and the other distilled products from the Hudson Valley. So next time you’re hankering for a taste your Old Kentucky Home remember, you gotta put yourself in a New York State of Mind.

Sunday, April 07, 2013


Expansion continues to be the dominant theme in the Hudson Valley. Seven or more wineries in the Hudson Valley over the last 18 months have expanded, many doubling their size, in some cases like Brotherhood or Whitecliff, more significant growth. Money and talent continue to pour into the region, and this does not also take into account the new distilleries or cideries. The tent just keeps getting bigger.
Clearview Vineyards in located in Warwick, NY Frank and Karen own this organic, sustainable vineyard, and now are finishing up a new winery building and tasting room, doubling their size and capacity.



Congrats to the folks at Clearview Vineyards!

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Hudson-Chatham Hosts Brownies and Wine! Divine!