Published:


By Mike Diago

PHOTO PROVIDED BY TUTHILLTOWN SPIRITS & HUDSON WHISKEY

It feels almost blasphemous, around these parts, to utter the notion that not everything made in the Hudson Valley is small-batch, but the truth is that both larger-scale and artisanal operations are pumping jobs into the region and sending in-demand products across the state, nation, and world on a Hudson Valley stamp. Here is just a sampling of some of the most highly regarded and recognizable products we are churning out.

 


 

Hudson Whiskey (Tuthilltown Spirits Distillery)


PHOTO PROVIDED BY TUTHILLTOWN SPIRITS & HUDSON WHISKEY

Across the valley and indeed the globe, the word Hudson prominently scrolled across stout bottles of Hudson Whiskey represents our region as a fixture on the top shelves of quality bars. Tuthilltown Spirits Distillery, which produces this line of whiskeys, put us on the map by securing national awards for their Manhattan Rye, Four Grain Bourbon and, perhaps most famously, their Hudson Baby Bourbon, among others, since coming on the market in 2006. They were the first whiskey distillery in the state since prohibition. Founders Ralph Erenzo and Brian Lee grew the business from two guys distilling vodka out of apple scraps, to a creative team of 50 constantly working to maintain a standard of excellence, all while continuing to source their needed grains locally.

 

Angry Orchard

Angry Orchard, based in Walden, is currently claiming roughly 60% of the national hard-cider market share.  They moved to our region — known as the apple belt of New York — in 2015 to take advantage of the rich soil and ideal climate, which yields prime hard-cider apples, and experiment with new varieties. They settled into an existing apple farm in Walden that grew its first apples more than 100 years ago. New York State native Ryan Burk is the head cider maker and gets the dream job of leading research and development at the orchard’s Innovation Cider House, where you can saddle up to the bar for a taste. Like most of us from the Empire State, he has had a lifelong involvement with apple orchards, and that “New York know-how” makes its way into each bottle. 

 

PepsiCo

In the non-alcoholic beverage industry, there is none more lucrative than PepsiCo, whose world headquarters is based in Purchase. Just a stone’s throw away in Valhalla, Pepsi’s futuristic innovation lab is working hard to make sure they are producing the next cutting-edge products to hit the food and beverage mass-market. Pepsi Spire, for example, looks promising as the vending machine of the next generation, allowing customers to customize more than 1,000 soft drinks with a few touches on a digital screen. 

 

Anheuser Busch

If you forgo the craft boom and pick up a can of Budweiser, Michelob Ultra, Stella Artois, or dozens of other ubiquitous corporate beers, you can still tell people you are buying local; well…sort of. If you are sipping from a can of one of those beers, there is a chance that the can — although not its contents — was produced at the Metal Container Corporation in New Windsor, NY.  That’s right: 3.4 billion cans produced annually by beer giant Anheuser Busch are produced right here in Orange County.

 

Captain Lawrence Brewing Company

New York State ranks fourth in the country when it comes to craft breweries, and many of those come from the Hudson Valley. Captain Lawrence Brewing Company in Elmsford is leading the charge regionally. Founder Scott Vaccaro has come a long way since shuttling barrels to customers in his VW Jetta. Nowadays he oversees the largest craft brewery in the area — with a 40-barrel brew house that churns out 80 kegs per brew and fills more than 1,000 cases a day — and has expanded distribution from local to regional. 

 

Millbrook Vineyards and Winery

Wine is not the most well-known regional product, but it has certainly maintained an impact on the national scene. Brotherhood Winery in Washingtonville is the oldest continually operating winery in America; but Millbrook Vineyards and Winery, though relatively new on the scene — they opened in 1985 — has been heralded by the New York Times as “the Hudson Valley’s Flagship Winery.” Owner John Dyson dedicated 35 acres to vinifera (winemaking) grapes back then, the largest investment in growing wine grapes in the Valley at the time. Today, Millbrook produces about 15,000 cases of wine, including the subtle, dry Pinot Noir that’s been produced here for more than 25 years.

 

Quercus Cooperage

Following the local explosion of distilleries, breweries, cideries, and wineries, demand has arisen for something in which to age and store the product. Queue up the coopers (a cooper is a traditional wooden barrel maker). John Cox, a former cabinet-maker, is only one of about five coopers statewide. He noticed a regional demand and used his existing woodworking knowledge to take on the cooperage trade. Cox opened Quercus Cooperage in High Falls — a central location to many of the area’s best beverage craftspeople. Cox exclusively uses New York State oak, particularly white oak, which imparts just the right notes into the contents of each barrel. He takes no shortcuts in this process and uses old-fashioned tools and techniques throughout. 

 

Hudson Valley Foie Gras

In 1983, Izzy Yanay opened Hudson Valley Foie Gras in Ferndale, Sullivan County — the first foie gras farm in the United States. The controversial practice of force-feeding ducks to enlarge their livers for this high-brow culinary delicacy has both ardent fans and enemies. “We acknowledge the controversy, but what we do is based on biology and evolution,” says Sales Manager Matt Igoe. "It’s part of a natural process.” Yanay claims to do things differently: He has visited farms in France where the practice involves caging individual ducks so they can’t move and mechanically feeding them. He bought the equipment to do just that early on, but Yanay says, “I threw it out the window; I just couldn’t do it.” Yanay prefers to hand-feed his ducks and provide them with an extra measure of care. His final product earned him a James Beard award in 2001 and has placed his products in the country’s best restaurants like Thomas Keller’s Per Se. 

 

Coon Brothers Farm

Three generations of the always-humble Coon family provide the backbone for the Coon Brothers Farm situated on 2,200 acres in Amenia. Though the Coon Brothers are a local powerhouse in their own right — they sell milk from their 350 milking cows to Hudson Valley Fresh — their products grace the dinner tables of many more families through their selling of milk to Cabot Creamery in VT. 

 

Freihofer’s Bakery


PHOTO BY KATIE CHIRICHILLO

Freihofer’s bread, English muffins, and above all their chocolate chip cookies are fixtures of every Capital Region kitchen counter, as necessary to most as milk or eggs. Utter a bad word about them in a grocery aisle in Albany, and you’d be risking physical safety. Their products have worked their way into hearts and souls for the past hundred years. Delivery of those products has expanded as far south as New Jersey and as far north as New England. Although they are now owned by mega-corporation Bimbo Bakeries, they are still being produced in two factories along Prospect Avenue (renamed Freihofer’s Way in 2013) in Albany and one in New Paltz. Together the factories employ roughly 700 people.

 

IBM

IBM still maintains a regional presence at their Poughkeepsie facilities through partnerships with GlobalFoundries and through their continued manufacturing of mainframes. These aren’t the giant Cold War computing machines of yore, however; the IBM Z mainframes that IBM is now producing are targeted at protecting growing and more rapidly moving volumes of information. The new machines can process up to 12 billion encrypted transactions a day. This improved encryption technology has kept IBM in the game as demand to suppress growing data breaches has mounted. 

 

GlobalFoundries

GlobalFoundries, with plants in East Fishkill, is a global leader in the production of semiconductors. These nano-tech components may be invisible to us, but they are a vital part of every device and appliance we take for granted. Indeed, the science behind how semiconductors control electrical current means everything in today’s tech-driven world. In 2015 GlobalFoundries took over the semiconductor portion of IBM’s business and, though they have suffered some layoffs, they have kept business moving forward and are still one of a few top global competitors in the field. They are also conducting R&D operations in Albany at SUNY Polytechnic Institute’s College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering.

 

Medical Marijuana

In the 1995 stoner comedy Friday, Bernie Mac’s “Pastor Clever” character asks a couple of local weed-smoking teens, “Can I have some of that for my cataracts?” after giving a short sermon on the evils of drugs, generating big laughs. Fast forward to 2017 and medicinal marijuana is no longer a laughing matter. In New York State, cancer, multiple sclerosis, ALS, and most recently chronic pain are among the approved conditions for medical marijuana treatment; unfortunately for Pastor Clever, cataracts aren’t on the official state list. To meet the growing demand (currently New York has more than 30,000 patients), the State has approved five new licensed marijuana businesses — including three manufacturing operations in the Hudson Valley. 

Valley Agriceuticals (owned by Gloucester Street Capital, LLC) and Citiva Medical will both manufacture in Orange County; Pallia Tech, NY will manufacture in Ulster. For an idea of the scale of these operations, Valley Agriceuticals in the Town of Wallkill will be cultivating on 139 acres and will operate a 100,000 sq ft processing plant once construction is complete. Each plant feeds its own dispensaries in the Hudson Valley, Long Island, and New York City. More than 1,250 doctors statewide are licensed to prescribe.

 

Lannett​

The Lannett company, a generic pharmaceutical developer and manufacturer in business since 1942, took ownership of Silarx Pharmaceuticals in 2015, bringing them into the town of Carmel. They now operate the 110,000 sq ft facility where they produce generic versions of drugs like Claritin, Celexa, and Prozac among others.

 

Regeneron

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 PHOTO BY NICK GALE

Along more traditional lines, the pharmaceutical industry has a strong foothold in the region. Tarrytown has Regeneron’s R&D facilities to thank for more than 3,000 local jobs. In its 30 years, this science and technology giant has produced six FDA-approved medicines for a variety of diseases from rheumatoid arthritis to severe eczema to cancer. Some notable products they have created at the Tarrytown location include Eylea, a drug used to treat various diseases that cause blindness, and Arcalyst, which treats a rare inflammatory disease.  In addition, the Regeneron Genetics Center (RGC) has built one of the world’s most comprehensive genetics databases, to help determine the factors that cause or influence a range of human diseases. Science magazine has ranked Regeneron the world’s top employer in the biotech, biopharmaceutical, and pharmaceutical field. 

 

Scenic Art Studios

On North Water Street in Newburgh, Scenic Art Studios is using its 15,000 sq ft warehouse to paint backdrops that head to Broadway and beyond for plays like Hello Dolly, The Nutcracker, Beauty and the Beast, and concert backdrops for artists like Kanye West. 

The building has seen many lives. It started as a steam mill in the 1830s, and later housed the Coldwell Lawnmower Co. — producers of the first lawnmower — and then the Regal Bag factory, which produced handbags for major manufacturers. 

 

Thornwillow Press

A couple blocks away, another Newburgh warehouse is home to Thornwillow Press, a traditional bookbindery started by Harvard grad Luke Ives Pontifell in 1985. Since opening, it has published works by the likes of John Updike and Barack Obama, among others. Works printed right in Newburgh are included in the permanent collections of the White House, the Vatican, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. 

 

La Bella Strings


 PHOTO BY ED STERN

La Bella Strings, one of the world’s oldest, most innovative, and respected producers of strings for stringed instruments, is hidden in plain sight on Newburgh’s main strip, Broadway, with an inconspicuous sign. Inside, corporate offices are lined with awards and memorabilia from famous musicians and the factory floor is buzzing with dozens of workers hand-making the strings that power much of the world’s music — including Willie Nelson, Pepe Romero, and Tony Iommi, to name a few. La Bella was the first company to develop nylon guitar strings, which every classical or flamenco guitarist, Arabic oud player, and countless other musicians use worldwide. Until a few years ago, La Bella made strings from sheep intestines, using the techniques their Italian ancestors used 400 years ago. 

 

Polich Tallix


 PHOTO BY CHRIS ROQUE

Also in Orange County, Polich Tallix fine art foundry in Walden is casting the vision of the world’s top artists in metal. They cast and fabricate sculptures for bronze or other metal alloys that can be as small as the Oscar statues (which they began producing in 2016), and as large as artist sculptures of monumental scale, up to and exceeding 40 feet tall. The foundry has produced the work of art-world royalty such as Tom Otterness, Jeff Koons, Frank Stella, and dozens of others since setting up shop in this 70,000 sq ft space on 30-plus acres. At any given time, the factory is happily buzzing with the work of about 75 craftspeople.

 

Hudson Valley Lighting

Back in 1985, with a newly minted MBA in hand, David Littman had the world at his fingers. Yet his heart remained with the lighting company that was begun by his grandfather in Brooklyn in the 1940s, and later expanded up to the Hudson Valley. Littman began working in the company’s Newburgh warehouse during summers while in high school and started his own lighting business, Hudson Valley Lighting, in the same space. It is now based in Wappingers Falls and has grown nationwide, with authorized retailers offering options that are as functional as they are beautiful. But don’t just take our word for it; flip through recent issues of Architectural Digest or House Beautiful, and you’ll see their fixtures featured there.

 

3M/Peltor (Access: Supports for Living)

Access: Supports for Living, a leading area nonprofit, supports people with challenges ranging from developmental disabilities to behavioral health disorders live the healthiest and fullest lives possible. Through a business contract with Minnesota-based manufacturing giant 3M™, they are able to add financial support to their mission of employing people with disabilities. Access employs severely disabled individuals, including disabled military personnel and veterans, to help with the assembly and packaging of  hearing protection equipment like earplugs and earmuffs under the PELTOR™  brand, at a 24,000 sq ft manufacturing facility in the Town of Wallkill; the goods are ultimately put to use by the military and law enforcement.