The Columbia County fairgrounds were filled for the first day of the Hudson Berkshire Beverage Trail’s second annual Wine and Food Festival Saturday.
While craft vendors and food proprietors were scattered along the walkways into the fairgrounds, the main attractions, as made apparent by the throngs of people inside, were the buildings containing the wine and alcohol merchants.
One of the first businesses in the front of the building where most of the wine merchants were located was Germantown’s Tile Table World. Jennifer Hubbard, Tile Table World’s marketing director, was greeting interested patrons and explained what the five-year-old company does.
“You can go to our website (customtiletables.com) and chose from imported tiles and use our layout program to lay out the exact table you want, then we build it and ship it to you,” she said.
The creator of the tables, George Upham, is a 90-year-old inventor native to Germantown who holds numerous patents, she said, adding the company is currently trying to patent the way in which they assemble the tile tables.
Though this was the company’s first year at the festival, Hubbard thought a reappearance next year might be in their future.
“We’re excited to come out and show our displays but also support local festivals showcasing local products and services,” she said. “We had a lot of interested people and I’d say this festival was worth it already even though we have one more day.”
Derek Groat and wife Ashley were on hand to sell their Core label of distilled spirits from Valatie’s Harvest Spirits Farm Distillery. The award-winning distillery returned to the festival after participating in the inaugural one.
“What was really special about last year’s festival — the first one — is that changes to the state distillery laws allowed us to sell our products at farmer’s markets and farmer’s festivals,” Derek said. “So the first time we ever got to sell individual bottles outside of our tasting room was here. It was so successful it was easy to return again.”
All of the distillery’s Core line of products are gluten-free. Many alcoholic products claim to be gluten-free after distillation processes but in fact are only 99-percent gluten-free, which may cause those overly sensitive to gluten to still get a reaction, according to the National Celiac Disease Foundation.
Derek pointed out that his “neighbors from the south,” Hudson Valley Distillers of Clermont, were at the festival after only having been in business a month.
Tom and Jennifer Yozzo run Hudson Valley Distillers out of Spirits Grove Farm, and confirmed they just started up in late April. Their products, vodka and applejack, are also made solely from apples and are thus gluten-free alcohols, something the Yozzos are very proud of.
“Both of us have gluten sensitivities,” Jennifer said. “Being able to provide alcohol that’s safe for so many people is important to us.”
Tom said they had done many festivals but that their distillery’s grand opening is from noon to 6 p.m. June 28 in Clermont.
“(U.S. Rep.) Chris Gibson (R,C,I-19) will be there,” he said. “He’s been a great support of us, distilleries and breweries and agriculture.”
Making one’s way through the packed building to sample various wines and foods could be daunting, as many booths had patrons lined up by the dozen.
Sue Gould Miller of Brookview Station Winery at Gould Orchards out of Castleton co-organized the event and I one of the people who runs the Hudson Valley Beverage Trail.
She said the event had at least double the vendors of its first year and over 500 online sales of entry tickets for both days.
“The fairgrounds are great,” she said. “We didn’t hold it here last year. To have the parking and the bathrooms and the ample space — it was just amazing. We’ll be coming back here next year.”
Miller said she plans to have a third festival next year, with no plans of stopping the annual tradition.
The festival continues from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. today at the Columbia County fairgrounds off Route 66 in Chatham.
To reach reporter Adam Clayton, call 518-828-1616 ext. 2513, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.