Bill Wetmore is an old lion. Wetmore founded Casade Mountain Winery. His was among the first wineries on the east side of the river, along with North Salem Vineyards and Clinton Vineyards. He is the last of the original east siders.
Cascade Mountain Winery’s vineyard was planted by Wetmore and his family, Margaret and children Charles, Michael, and Joan, in 1972. Bill (a former novelist) and his wife then went on to build the winery itself in 1977. Since then, the winery has won numerous awards for its excellent wines.
Wetmore and his family have a very interesting past. His father was Charles Wetmore, the famed architect. Warren and Wetmore was an architecture firm in New York City which was a partnership between Whitney Warren (1864–1943) and Charles Wetmore (1866–1941) that had one of the most extensive practices of its time and was known for the designing of large hotels.
Whitney Warren was a cousin of the Vanderbilts and spent ten years at the École des Beaux Arts. There he met fellow architecture student Emmanuel Louis Masqueray, who would, in 1897 join the Warren and Wetmore firm. He began practice in New York City in 1887.
Warren's partner, Charles D. Wetmore, was a lawyer by training. Their society connections led to commissions for clubs, private estates, hotels and terminal buildings, including the New York Central office building, the Chelsea docks, the Ritz-Carlton, Biltmore, Commodore, and Ambassador Hotels. They were the preferred architects for Vanderbilt's New York Central Railroad. The architectural records of the firm are held by the Dept. of Drawings & Archives at the Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University.
Wetmore was a well published novelist, whose titles included “All the Right People” (Doubleday, 1963); “A Matter of Blue Chips” (Doubleday, 1965); “House of Flesh” (Little, Brown, 1968); and “Here Comes Jamie” (little, Brown, 1970) among others.
“I was a novelist with 5 books published but little income. I made my own wine from grapes we grew ourselves. We started selling the wine and it became more lucrative than writing. Banks in those days would lend money to start a winery but not to start a book,” Bill Wetmore told Rona Boyer of the Millbrook Independent in 2011. So he started a winery. “…my son had done his senior project in high school on “Winery Construction and Design”, so we had the research already done.”
In July of 2013, daughter Joan wrote on the winery blog, “Thirty six Memorial Days ago the winery was under construction in preparation for our first vintage. The year was 1977. The cement walls for the cellar were just about completed and the building was about to be framed up. Every couple of weeks we would call the cement truck to pour another two foot layer of cement until the walls were nine feet high. You can see the lines where the forms overlapped right across from the tasting bar.”
“Our first vintage was in 1979,” commented Bill. At one point, the winery had a very high-end restaurant complete with a high-end chef. Even the New York Times gave the restaurant and the wines a rave review. The high-end restaurant is gone, but the wine remains.
In recent years George Ciafaro was the ubiquitous face of the winery at the farmers markets and wine festivals. Always in a van forever on the road. And Cascade Mountain remained well distributed and a perennial favorite with crowds.
Bill is now more than 84 years old. “Today, the torch is passed to a new generation,” he told Boyer. His daughter Joanie Yahn is now running the operation. When asked what her plans were for the winery, Joanie responded, “I’ve learned about wine making from Dad, and wine selling when I worked in wine stores and restaurants. Now that my kids are grown I am looking forward to taking over the winery. We are building up our Custom Label part of the business. We make up special labels for events or a corporate or family gift item. People can find templates on our website. We are also adding items made from our wines such as the Cascade Mountain Hot Jellies (which are great with game).”
I have several favorites from Cascade Mountain:
Summertide – A wonderful semi-dry white made with Seyval Blanc. Light and Spicy with lingering taste of fruit. A great picnic wine.
Seyval Blanc – A light, bright, refreshing white, with hints of green apple and lemon. A stainless steel wine, with lovely mnerality. And a zippy ending. A great white table wine.
Coeur de Leon – One of my favorite reds, a light bodied, beautifully colored dry, red is made in the Beaujolais style. A light Cabernet sauvignon based wine with lots of plum and berry up front, and a nice pepper finish. Soft, rounded. Lovely.
Go to Cascade Mountain and enjoy the wine!!!!
Interview, Millbrook Independent
Prepared with help from HWVC Media Staffer Jorden James.