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.

Friday, November 28, 2014


TasteCamp At Hudson Valley: Hudson-Chatham Winery
The Passionate Foodie
November 1, 2014
by Richard Auffrey
In organizing TasteCamp in the Hudson Valley, Lenn Thompson had assistance from Carlo Devito (pictured above), an author, publisher, writer, winery owner and probably more. He and his wife, Dominique, own the Hudson-Chatham Winery, located in Ghent, and it was the first winery in the Colombia County. One of our TasteCamp visits was to his winery, where he served us lunch, sampled us through many of his wines, and ran a tasting of wines, ciders, and cassis from other local wineries and cideries

I've met Carlo before on other wine trips, and found him to be personable, jovial, self-deprecating, passionate about wine, and hard working. When you consider everything that he does, you might wonder when he finds time to sleep. For example, he has authored over 15 books, writes the blogs East Coast Wineries and Hudson River Valley Wineries, and operates Warren Street Books, And he still finds time to operate and promote his winery, a winery that has garnered attention from the national media.
Carlo and his wife purchased the 14 acre property in 2006, and planted about 1000 vines of mostly hybrids. In 2007, they opened their winery and would subsequently plant more vines, so that they now have about 5 acres of vineyards, mostly hybrids. They hired Steve Casscles as their winemaker, and expanded the winery in 2012, increasing production and storage capacity, and now produce about 4000 cases annually. Besides table wines, they also make Port-style wines, Sherry-style wines, Cassis and Grappa. Carlo has a diverse palate, and wants to emulate some of the wines he loves in the best way he can in the Hudson Valley.
On the day of our visit, they were pressing grapes. As you can see, this is a very hands-on, artisan operation.
Carlo loves Spanish Sherry and has a dream of making a Sherry-like wine that will taste like amazing aged Sherry. He created his own Solera, in a small building behind the tasting room. Using mainly 25 year old, Italian chestnut barrels, he is trying to make a three stage solera, drawing no more than 1/3 from a barrel each time he takes any wine. At this time, the wine is an average age of four years, though he wants the Solera to last for many more years, even though his children might be the ones that ultimately benefit from it. He knows that his dream will take many years to accomplish but that doesn't discourage him.

The building where the Solera is stored lacks air conditioning or heat. He wants the weather to affect the wine, to let it do its worst. So far, that hasn't hurt the wine in the least. Carlo isn't seeking to emulate any specific style of Sherry, though he has previously bottled a Cream-Sherry style wine. His primary goal is consistency, to make a product that is essentially similar each year, though it might gain in complexity with time. Unfortunately, he didn't have any of his Cream Sherry available for me to taste. Carlo also wants to make Port-style wines, generally in a Tawny style. I got to taste a barrel sample and it showed promise. Carlo has very ambitious, long-term plans,
Carlo led us through a tasting of more than a dozen of his wines and spirits. His wines are about 70% dry reds, and all are produced from New York state grapes, with 85% being made from Hudson Valley grapes. All of their wines are also single vineyard, hand made, and hand pressed, Their tasting room was busy on the day we were there, and the guests seemed to be enjoying the wines very much, and buying a number of bottles. It was good to see that his wines were so well received.

Carlo believes they are making some of the best red wines in New York, especially soft, approachable reds at very good value. Carlo also told me an interesting story which provided me a clear insight into his goals for his winery. He was once asked by someone, "What is it you are trying to do here?" As he is a a big sports fans, and has written much about sports, he replied, "This I the only way I know how to say this. If we were a sports team, my goal would be to make the playoffs every year and to win a championship or multiple championships. I'm not in it for any other reasons than that. I want us to be among the best of them every year." As I said, he is very ambitious.
I was impressed with many of their reds. The 2013 Pinot Noir is the first vintage they have made of this wine, and it uses grapes from the Hudson Valley. It spends almost four weeks on the skins and is aged in French oak for about nine months. With a light red color, this wine is light in body too, with pleasant cherry and raspberry flavors and a hint of spice. Easy drinking and tasty. The 2012 Chelois is an intriguing wine, made from a hybrid grape, and saw about nine months in oak. With a little spritz, the wine presented an intriguing blend of black fruit flavors, nice acidity, spicy undertones and nicely integrated tannins.

The 2011 Empire Reserve is a unique blend of three grapes from 3 different regions of New York, including Hudson Valley Baco Noir, Finger Lakes Cabernet Franc and Long Island Merlot. It spends at least two years in oak. Smooth and easy drinking, it had a delicious and complex blend of red and black fruits, a spicy backbone and herbal notes. Good structure and acidity, it had a moderately long finish, and I'd enjoy a bottle with pork or beef. It's not a pure Hudson Valley wine, but was tasty and interesting anyways.
At the heart of the winery is their Baco Noir, another hybrid grape, and these wines have garnered lots of attention. Forget your preconceptions and prejudices about hybrids creating lesser wines compared to vinifera. If you tasted these wines blind, you would never suspect they were hybrids. These are well-crafted wines of character, possessed of excellent taste, and you really owe it to yourself to check them out.

The 2013 Baco Noir Cascades Middle Hope is from 45 year old vines, and the wine was aged for about 9 months in French oak. It possessed pleasant cherry and raspberry flavors, with an underlying spice, especially on the finish. Easy drinking, with mild tannins. The 2013 Baco Noir Reserve, Casscles Vineyard possesses more intense fruit flavors, and more ripe plum and black cherry flavors, with spicy accents throughout the taste. It was smooth, with nice acidity and a lengthy finish. Very tasty. The 2013 Baco Noir Block 3 North Creek Vineyard has a similar flavor profile as the Reserve, except that the spice notes and tannins are stronger in this wine.

My favorite of the Baco Noies was the 2013 Baco Noir Old Vines, which is made from 60 year old vines. It was complex and intriguing, presenting a delicious melange of flavors, including ripe plum, blueberry, black cherry, vanilla and baking spices. It possessed a silky feel, was well balanced and had a lingering and pleasing finish. This elegant and alluring wine is something to slowly sip with friends, savoring its complexity and quality. I bought a few bottles of this wine, and highly recommend it.
Even some of their Grappa is made from their Baco Noir! Essentially, this is a distilled spirit using grape skins, and they have the grappa produced by Harvest Spirits. The basic Grappa was aromatic and pleasant, with cherry and red berry flavors. The Grappa Reserve, which sees some oak, was even better, with a smoother taste, and the red fruit flavors enhanced by spice notes. This would be a pleasant digestive after a nice dinner.
In the "sports league" of New York wines, Hudson-Chatham Winery is definitely a worthy contender.
Read more at:

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Hudson Valley Brewers Shine in Handbook of Porters and Stouts

This month The Handbook of Porters and Stouts by Chad Polenz and Josh Christie just came out, and several Hudson Valley breweries are covered in the new book including Chatham Brewing, Brown's Brewing, Captain Lawrence, and the Beer Diviner. Chatham Brewing's Porter and Imperial Stout, Brown Brewing's Oatmeal Stout and Whiskey Barrel Aged Porter, as well as Captain Lawrence Frost Monster and Beer Diviner Got Your Back.
A great nod to the brewers of the Hudson Valley!!!



Hillrock Estate, Tuthilltown Featured in James Rodewald's AMERICAN SPIRIT

James Rodewald was the former Drinks Editor for Gourmet magazine (1998-2009). He has edited several wine and spirits books and authored a piece on the history of single-malt Scotch for Sterling Epicure's Barrels & Drams by William Dowd. His newest book is American Spirit" An Exploration of the Craft Distilling Revolution.
Library Journal wrote of this book in late summer, "This volume is best read with something on the rocks; it will make you thirsty. Fortunately, the content includes nine cocktail recipes, as well as a glossary of terms.”
More importantly, Rodewald, in Chapter 2, entitled "Rock Stars" features two Hudson Valley distilleries Hillrock Estate Distilling and Tuthillton Spirits.


This is a huge deal since Rodewald only featured a dozen or so distilleries in the book around the country, and featured two Hudson Valley producers in the same chapter. Says a lot about the distillery industry in the Hudson Valley. Congrats to the folks at Hillrock and at Tuthilltown!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Hudson Berkshire Beverage Trail Naughty and Nice Holiday Event Nov 22 & 23, 2014!!!

Photo: Tis the season to feel naughty or nice…or both!…on the Hudson Berkshire Beverage Trail! Just in time for gathering beverages for the long Thanksgiving weekend, the Trail is hosting a passport event. Buy one for $20 at any of the Trail venues and you’re off. Get your passport stamped along the way as you sip and sample the wines, spirits, and ciders being made by Trail members. Each will also offer a special “naughty or nice” hot beverage!
Tis the season to feel naughty or nice…or both!…on the Hudson Berkshire Beverage Trail! Just in time for gathering beverages for the long Thanksgiving weekend, the Trail is hosting a passport event. Buy one for $20 at any of the Trail venue...s and you’re off. Get your passport stamped along the way as you sip and sample the wines, spirits, and ciders being made by Trail members. Each will also offer a special “naughty or nice” hot beverage!

Saratogian: Upper Hudson Valley Wine Trail Teams Up With NY Christmas Tree Growers Assoc.

Vineyards teaming up with tree growers
By Paul Post, The Saratogian
Posted: 11/17/14, 4:28 PM EST | Updated: 1 day ago
SARATOGA SPRINGS - Just about everyone likes a little wine and cheese during the holidays.

Now local vineyards are partnering with Christmas tree growers on a unique “wine and trees” cross-promotion.
Organizers are hoping the marketing strategy goes statewide if this year’s pilot project is a success.

“This is a guinea pig year,” said Lindsey Lehr, manager of Swedish Hill Winery’s tasting room on Broadway. “We’re really hoping to increase the flow of local consumer traffic.”

Christmas trees and grapes are two of upstate New York’s most popular agricultural products. The New York Christmas Tree Growers Association and Upper Hudson Valley Wine Trail officials decided, why not work together?

Countless area residents make family outings to local tree farms, which also get considerable out-of-town traffic on Thanksgiving weekend. Of course wine lovers are also stocking up now for the yuletide season.
“The idea is to get people who might go wine-tasting to visit a nearby tree farm as well, and vice versa,” said Mary Jeanne Packer, Trees Growers Association executive director. “We feel pretty excited. It’s a low-cost project that could produce very high returns with increased visibility for both products.”
The effort officially kicks off on Saturday, Nov. 29.

A dozen wineries and vineyards in Saratoga, Warren and Washington counties are participating. In addition to Swedish Hill, the list includes The Saratoga Winery & Tasting Room, Halfmoon Cellars and Thirsty Owl Outlet & Wine Garden, all of Saratoga Springs; Johnston’s Winery in Galway and Ledge Rock Hill Winery in Corinth.
Nearly a dozen tree growers are also taking part. Those in Saratoga County are Sunnyside Gardens in Saratoga Springs, River Bend Tree Farm in Corinth, Bob’s Trees in Galway, and Ellms Family Farm and Frogg Hollow Farm, both in Galway.

As an incentive to visit both types of business, people who buy wine or purchase a tasting will be given a coupon they can redeem at a tree farm for a handsome laser-engraved wooden ornament, free of charge. Or, those who buy a tree or wreath may take the coupon to a winery or vineyard to get the ornament.
The offer is good while supplies last, Lehr said.

The Upper Hudson Valley Wine Trail is one of several wine trails throughout the state.
“They’ve been very successful in other communities,” said Chip Ellms, Ellms farm co-owner. “It helps the consumer and businesses. We just thought what a wonderful combination for people who have similar interests to get both of these locally-grown products right here in the area.”

Read more at:

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Almanac Weekly Raves About Bad Seed Cider

Bad Seed Cider got much love in the November 14-23 issue of Almanac Weekly. Bad Seed is one of the new cideries in the Hudson Valley that are doing cool things with cider, and are one of the cutting edge makers of popular hard apple ciders. It's a great article. And there's some love in their for Dennings Point distillery.

Read the whole thing here:

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Aaron Burr Cidery - The Foodie Cider

There is no question that among foodies, that Aaron Burr Ciders have been the darling of the farm-to-table world. The "unicorn cider," as New York Cork Report Editor-in-Chief Lenn Thompson referred to it, for its hard to find nature, has made it even more desirable. We both had the opportunity, along with about a dozen or so writers, to sample the line at a recent Grand Tasting in the Hudson Valley.

The ciders can be had at such tony spots as the famous restaurant 11 Madison, Murray's Cheeses, Astor Wines and Spirits, Eataly, Gramercy Tavern, and many other spots in New York City as well as on the wine list at the Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park. 

And they have enjoyed such media hits as Edible Manhattan, Grub Street, Valley Table, Brooklyn Magazine, Town & Country magazine, and many others.

The reason that these are so collectible right off the bat, is that the are much more like sophisticated sparkling wines, that happen to be made from apples. They have immense complexity. Lovely balance, and tend to be more on the dry side. I think the other thing that make Aaron Burr so appealing is that you immediately think of fine food when you drink one. With a group of wine writers, we all mentioned things like fresh clams or oysters, roast pork, aged cheddar cheese, even pheasant stew with dumplings or chicken pot pie. That's why foodies like Aaron Burr.
Aaron Burr Cidery, located in Wurtsboro, New York, is a small homestead farm dating back to the early 19th century.  They specialize in growing cider-apples, which are different from eating-apples in the same way wine-grapes are different from table-grapes.  We use our apples and other locally grown and foraged apples for one mission: to re-create “true cider”, the time-averaged most popular drink in America. This focus is founded on the belief that early Americans drank history’s best cider.  Reestablishing this involves holism -from farming to art, from the market to politics- cider is an identity. 

Andy Brennan and his wife Polly own Aaron Burr, and have made quite a name for themselves in a very short period of time. Polly came to the tasting ready to pour.

The Appinette is a combination of grape juice and apple cider. It's made from 30% Finger Lake Traminette grape, and 70% Orange County (NY) apples (70% of those are Idared, russets and Spy. This is a dry cider with floral aroma, that one assumes come from the Traminette. It's lightly colored amber color, like a nice, aged champagne, with medium carbonation, and a hint of cloudiness. A hint of grapefruit at the end.

2013 Homestead Perry is made from true perry pears from unsprayed wild trees along the upper Neversink River. This has the slightest hint of sweetness, with a lovely light honey color. There is a bit of haziness a you pour down There is sediment in this wine. Only slightly effervescent. There's a nice floral nose, with hints of barnyard. Lovely, with some tannin. Almost buttery like a chardonnay? Elegant.

2013 Homestead Cider: Shawangunk Ridge is made from foraged, unsprayed wild apples from various Bloomingburg/ Otisville area homesteads. This cider tasted basically dry to me. This is a sparkling cider, a nice shade of honey/amber, with some haziness. According to the notes, "Tart apple intro, notes of birch wood and melon, becomes more minerally. Finishes black cherry." I would say that I got the trat apple and strangely, the birchwood, though I laugh, because I'm not sure how I got that r how to describe it. Suffice to say, one of my favorites of the tasting, flat out.

Yes, they are the "unicorn" of ciders. Well known but elusive, hard to find. That's because, any time they are available, they get scarfed up pretty quickly. Once you have one, you'll understand why.

Robibero Vineyards Sparkles

On October 10th, 2014, Robibero Vineyards had a chance to shine as they hosted one of the Grand Tastings of the TasteCamp 2014 that was held in the Hudson Valley to kick off Local Wine Week. Wine and spirits writers and bloggers gathered to hear and taste. And they were not disappointed.

Robibero Vineyards is a new dynamo in the valley, armed with the street and business smarts of Harry Robibero, a successful contractor turned vintner, and his family. Key among them is the uber social media savvy Tiffany Robibero Selby, who is as smart and she is pretty. With her husband, Ryan Selby, they form the youthful, buoyant charm and heart that pumps the life blood of this young winery.

Ryan is the jack-of-al-trades at the winery, from driving trucks to pruning the vineyards to making wine. Whatever is required is what is delivered. He is the unsung hero of the winery. Hard driving. pragmatic. Good natured. Determined. And the new winemaker, Kristop Brown, one of the most talented young winemakers on the east coast, is the swaggering, hip, dynamic winemaker that is elevating Robibero to a whole new level. Brown can make hybrids and vinifera sing with equal dexterity.

Kristop is accomplished, having worked at Millbrook and Benmarl before he took a turn out west, where he worked with the likes of consulting flying winemaker Michael Rolland, before returning to the Hudson Valley. He's a charming as he is talented. And with Ryan as his trusty winemaking sidekick, Robibero sees nothing but open highway before it.


2013 87 North is named after the NYS Thruway. This lovely, bright white is a blend of 60% Vidal Blanc, 40% Cayuga White. Honeydew and grapefruit aromas with a clean crisp refreshing finish make this a sophisticated sipper. It is aromatic and lovely.

Peach explodes out of the glass of the 2013 Riesling with a flash of bright citrus notes. Its light, bright, with sweet notes of peach and apricot. But it's zippy acidity keeps the wine refreshing and delicious, with a nice pop at then end. Very pretty. 

Traminette is a new grape that is more like a clone of Gewurztraminer. In recent years, after some early fits and starts, it seems more and more winemakers have found their sea-legs with this new grape. Kristop is one of them. The nose is a big bouquet of flowers and lychee fruit and pears. A gorgeous wine, with nice acidity which keeps it refreshing and light.

The 2013 New Yorkie Rose' is a classic French-styled delicate dry rose'. The wine was made using Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot & Petit Verdot. Fresh, bright, with ripe strawberries on the nose, this is a lovely, bright rose. A very deft handling of the fruit makes this a classic.

Kristop and Ryan lead a barrel tasting in the cellars of Robibero which showed great promise of vintages to come.

Lenn Thompson of the New York Cork Report

Julia Burke of the wine blog Stellebnbauchery

The 2012 Cabernet Franc was a limited production wine that won Double Gold at the Hudson Valley Wine Competition. According to the tasting notes, "Cherries, berries, and currants on the nose and mouth make a bold opening statement, while mellow hints of oak, licorice, and Dr. Pepper linger on the long finish." Doesn't even begin to describe this wine. Beautiful. Well balanced. Complex. Young. This wine was marvelous, and makes me excited to se what will happen here in a few years.

Robibero's wines automatically up the quality level of the wines being made in the Hudson Valley. They are a credit to the region, and a great promise of what is in store for valley watchers of the future. 
Robibero had their chance to shine in front of the wine media....and instead, they sparkled.