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.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Pride of New York Harvest Fest at the Desmond Nov 23 & 24, 2013!!

Pride of New York Harvest Fest 2013
November 23, 2013 - November 24, 2013 
Hosted by TasteNY, Classroom Enrichment Program
11:00 am - 5:00 pm

Come taste the best food and wine products New York has to offer. Nearly 100 vendors from throughout the state with sample their products - from wine to sauces. Plus, you'll be able to take home most of what you taste. That means you'll be able to find the perfect wine and food for your holiday table - or that perfect gift for that hard-to-shop for person in your life. So, join us for two days of celebrating the best wine and food from throughout New York.

This is the premiere local farm beverage show in the state's capital!

Pride of New York Harvest Fest

The Desmond Hotel and Conference Center
660 Albany Shaker Rd 
Albany, NY 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Wall Street Journal Raves About Hillrock Estate

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Bourbon, Made in N.Y.
Ralph Gardner Jr. Gets Into the Spirit With Jeffrey Baker, Owner of the Hudson Valley Distillery Hillrock
By Ralph Gardner Jr.
Nov. 11, 2013 9:42 p.m. ET
Wall Street Journal

I was under the impression there was a reason bourbon is made in Kentucky: that there was something fun-loving about the climate or the soil that found its way into the alcohol. But Jeffrey Baker, the owner of Hillrock, a Hudson Valley distillery situated about two hours north of the city, told me that isn't necessarily so.

"In the 1820s, there were probably 2,000 farm distilleries in New York," he explained. "That was the case around the country. In 1800, George Washington had the largest distillery in the U.S. It was pretty much his most profitable farming venture."
Mr. Baker, a 53-year-old investment banker, makes delightful Solera bourbon. Launched in 2012, it's finished in Oloroso Sherry casts, a Spanish technique that give it depth and a sweet, slightly spicy flavor. He also makes a single malt whiskey, rye and a historically accurate, unaged George Washington rye whiskey created in partnership with Mt. Vernon. All told, the distillery produces about 5,000 cases annually.

"Our operation is very similar to what George Washington was doing at the time," Mr. Baker said. "The scale and the field-to-glass."

The distiller's hilltop 1806 home, with lovely views of both the Berkshires and his malt house, are surrounded by the fields that provide some of the grains that go into his liquor (hence the description "field-to-glass"). The corn used to make the bourbon comes from local farms.

For the sake of full disclosure, I should state that I'm not a bourbon connoisseur. It's a little too sweet to be a staple of my drinking diet. Instead, I'll have a single malt (or two) and, just before dinner, top it off with a shot of bourbon. I'm not picky. Jim Beam will do. It adds a festive note and serves as a punctuation mark, informing my brain and taste buds that it's time to head into the next phase of the evening.

But during a subsequent tasting of all Hillrock's beverages, I realized the bourbon was special. (Not that the single malt or rye was anything to sniff at, except to absorb the flavor notes.) It was smooth and delicate. In other words, at $80 a bottle, it would be a sin to waste it on me.

Mr. Baker said he worked on farms while growing up. "When I moved to New York, I was sort of missing something," he explained. "Pretty quickly I decided to do some farming. I set up one of the earliest rotational grazing herds."

This was in Washington County, an additional hour or two north of the city. It was also the '80s, before anyone had heard of locavores. "People weren't ready yet," Mr. Baker said. "They wouldn't pay a premium."

His distilling venture started after he bought a Georgian home in the Lake George area. Rather than live there, he disassembled it, moved it about a hundred miles south to Ancram in Columbia County, reassembled it and meticulously restored it. 

Before I proceed, several thoughts, or at least one, about people like Jeff Baker—he has an MBA from Wharton and also master's degrees in both architecture and city planning—who I run into occasionally in this line of work: Where do they find the time, energy and ambition? Are they as impressive as they seem, or are they simply expressing some deep-seated insecurity through their accomplishments?

I wouldn't purchase a house only to take it apart. Couldn't he find acceptable shelter atop a hill without inviting all the additional headaches? I'm still recuperating and basking in the heightened self-esteem from a trail I blazed through the woods. And that was a decade ago.

"I guess I don't like golf," Mr. Baker explained as we sat by his fireplace.

The idea of becoming a distiller started to crystallize as he researched his new home and discovered that Israel Harris, the fellow who built the house, had been a Revolutionary War captain who fought with the Green Mountain Boys. "He ended up being a successful grain merchant," Mr. Baker said. "In the 1820s, New York was producing two-thirds of the barley for the whole country and a significant portion of the rye. It was clear you could grow grass in the area. It started me thinking what we could do with grain."

"I have always been a big wine and spirits person," he added, his MBA whispering that the highest mark up came from turning grain into alcohol. Also, that people might be willing to pay a premium for locally grown spirits in the same way they're now mad for fruit, vegetables and grass-fed beef.
The only caveat: "I wanted it to be world class," Mr. Baker said.

So he tracked down Dave Pickerell, a master distiller who had worked at Maker's Mark for 14 years. "I called him up and said, 'Is it true nobody has done a field-to-glass whiskey operation in the States?' He thought it was a great idea."

The day-to-day operation is run by Tim Welly, who previously worked as the cellar master at Millbrook Winery. "Wine makers tend to be more careful whiskey makers," Mr. Baker argued.

I'll resist the temptation to get into the weeds, or rather the six-acre rye field that stands between Mr. Baker's home and his new malt house, for fear of describing the details of the operation inaccurately. Suffice it to say that if I thought his home was impressive, you should see the distillery and malt house. It's more than ready for its Architectural Digest close-up. "It's the first purpose-built malt house in the U.S. since before Prohibition," Mr. Baker boasted.

The handsome tool that Mr. Welly was using to rake the malt was made by a sculptor. "It's not like you can go to a hardware store to get malting equipment anymore," Mr. Baker explained. 

I am too discreet to ask what the distillery had cost so far—but did so anyway. "A number of million dollars," Mr. Baker said. But he noted that a ton of malt creates $60,000 worth of whiskey. "In terms of economics it's probably the highest-value farming around other than marijuana."

He added: "At this scale, you can be pretty profitable. Everything we made has been sold out pretty quickly."

He wasn't exaggerating. After our tasting, I discovered, much to my disappointment, that there wasn't any bourbon available to purchase. Fortunately, a new batch should be ready before Thanksgiving.


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Last Two Weeks of Fall In Love With Hudson Valley Wine

Only two weekends left!!! Look at everything that's going on!!! A great weekend to discover great Hudson Valley wine, beers, and spirits. There are more than 6 more events to choose from these next two weekends!!! Another series of amazing events!!! The Grand Portfolio Tasting at Millbrook; Bread, Wine & Cheese at Hudson-Chatham; and more music at Warwick Valley! There's music, wine tastings, food, fun, and laughter!!! C'mon, Fall in Love With Hudson Valley Wine!!!

Nov 16  5th Annual Bread, Wine & Cheese Event HUDSON-CHATHAM WINERY

Nov 16 Grand Portfolio Tasting 12-5pm MILLBROOK VINEYARDS

Nov 16 Josh Casano Concert 2-5pm WARWICK VALLEY WINERY

Nov 17 Redden Brothers Concert 2 to 5 pm WARWICK VALLEY WINERY

Nov. 23 & 24 – Pride of New York Harvest Festival – Desmond Hotel, Albany NY

Monday, November 11, 2013

Town & Country magazine Raves About Aaron Burr Cider

The December 2013 issue of Town & country magazine features a short but lovely article about Aaron Burr Cider in the Hudson Valley. A great article and a great cider!!!

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Fall In Love With Hudson Valley Wine 2013 Continues!!! Nov 9-10, 2013!!!

Look at everything that's going on!!! Another great weekend to discover great Hudson Valley wine, beers, and spirits. There are more than 8 more events to choose from this weekend!!! Another series of amazing events!!! The Hudson Berkshire Beverage Trail has their holiday event! A $15 passport buys tastings at all five venues! There's music, wine tastings, food, fun, and laughter!!! C'mon, Fall in Love With Hudson Valley Wine!!!

Nov 9  &10 Hudson Berkshire Beverage Trail Holiday event

Nov 9 & 10  Red Wine & Chocolate 11:30 to 5:30 WHITECLIFF VINEYARDS

Nov 9 Uncorked and Unplugged Concert 2 to 5pm WARWICK VALLEY WINERY

Nov 10 Josh Casano Concert 2 to 5pm WARWICK VALLEY WINERY

Nov 9 Sip & Sign Local Author Book Signings MILLBROOK VINEYARDS

Nov. 10 – Sherry Solera Barrel tasting – HUDSON-CHATHAM WINERY

And of course, for more events, go to:

Friday, November 01, 2013

HVEDC Food & Beverage Alliance Beer, Wine & Spirit Summit a Major Success

Beer, Wine and Spirits Summit  
Event draws more than 200 people within industry
from throughout Hudson Valley
NEW WINDSOR, N.Y. (October 31, 2013) - The Hudson Valley Economic Development Corp. (HVEDC) today hosted several state officials and economic development leaders at the first Hudson Valley Beer, Wine & Spirits Summit, the largest event of its kind held in the Hudson Valley.
The event, held at The Culinary Institute of America, attracted more than 200 people in the Hudson Valley working within the beer, wine and spirits industry.
"Hudson Valley Economic Development Corporation was extremely proud to put together its first-ever Hudson Valley Beer, Wine & Spirits Summit," said Laurence P. Gottlieb, president and CEO of HVEDC. "This event brought together tremendous thought leaders at the state level as well as many of the members of our very own Hudson Valley Food & Beverage Alliance. Those members were able to discuss very real growth opportunities and challenges that they are currently facing in this industry and they now have many answers to help them continue to expand and grow."
The Hudson Valley Food & Beverage Alliance brings organizations within the food and beverage industries together, helping area businesses forge strong partnerships. Founded by Hudson Valley Economic Development Corp. (HVEDC), the alliance provides access to economic guidance and marketing resources to businesses throughout the region.
HVEDC hosted speakers who led discussions on exploring business-to-business needs, accessing capital, the latest information on state liquor regulations, expanding beverage trails, building the hops and cider business, promoting through the Taste NY initiative, industry development with the state's new One-Stop Shop program and an update on the local wine industry.
"Over the past several years, we have seen some incredible growth in our region's beer, wine, spirits and hard cider industry, but this year's bumper crop is particularly special," Gottlieb said. "The Hudson Valley - while always a great location for breweries, distilleries, vineyards and apple orchards - is rapidly escalating into a hub for producing high-quality beverage products, not only for consumption in New York State, but nationwide as well.
"While most of this growth is due to the innovations taking place at each of these businesses, there is also a lot they can gain from working with others," Gottlieb said. "I look at it as similar to the fermentation process used when brewing beer. The foundation of a good brew is rooted in the barley and hops, but adding a little accelerant to the batch helps to speed up the process. HVEDC believes connecting these companies with local growers serves as that accelerant, and the more ingredients breweries, distilleries and wineries purchase from farmers and manufacturers here in the Hudson Valley, the greater impact it has on our broader economy.
Since taking office, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has worked to further support and develop the beverage industry, which is a major driver of job creation and economic development in communities across the state.  In particular, under the governor's leadership, upstate farms and agribusiness have become key contributors in the industry's growth.  In addition to hosting the state's first-ever Wine, Beer and Spirits Summit, where he announced plans for a new marketing campaign to promote state-produced wine, beer, cider and spirits sales and tourism, as well as a series of regulatory reforms that will significantly reduce business costs for beverage producers, the governor has introduced several new initiatives such as Taste NY to help improve the marketing of New York State products.  The governor's innovative policy changes, including New York's Farm Brewery license and Farm Cideries bill, are also helping to grow and expand this critical industry in New York State.
"Thanks to the governor's leadership, and events like the state's Wine, Beer and Spirits Summit, the beverage industry has seen a tremendous boost across the state," said Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Kenneth Adams. "New York State, through the Taste NY initiative, is pleased to co-host local events, such as the HVEDC Beer, Wine & Spirits Summit, to continue this momentum, and explore ways to grow the sector and promote the diversity of the Hudson Valley's beverage companies."
From the speakers:
Frank Giordano III, shareholder, Judelson, Giordano & Siegel, Middletown - "New York State is now home to 90 breweries. The craft beer industry has excelled, even during the economic downturn."
Patrick Hooker, Governor Cuomo's Deputy Secretary for Food and Agriculture - "One thing to take away from this event is that we are all working collaboratively as a state government. The only way we will be successful in economic development is if we work together - everyone - and we are under this Administration. Whatever works to move your business we'll do it."
Dennis Rosen, chairman, New York State Liquor Authority - "New York's craft manufacturers, often small family-owned businesses, have experienced an explosion of growth over the past three years under the governor's leadership. We are excited to participate in today's summit to further assist these businesses as they continue to create jobs and environmentally friendly economic development across New York State."
The event was sponsored by Judelson, Giordano & Siegel, CPA, PC; Hudson River Ventures; The Culinary Institute of America; Heineken; Taste NY; Hudson Valley Magazine; Empire Merchants North; and Pamal Broadcasting.
JGS Accountants     
HVEDC    Hudson River Ventures  Culinary Institute of America   

Harvest in the Hudson Valley - A Photo Album From 2013

Here's a great photo album of images from the harvest in the Hudson Valley in 2013. A fantastic vintage. A great fall with super fruit!