Skydivers Bottle Spanish Sangria in the Hudson Valley
The adventurous duo behind Freefall Sangria concoct a potent version of the fruity wine that locals can't stop sipping.
Photo by Laszlo Andracs
The Valley’s hottest new beverage is a shelf-stable version of everyone’s favorite Spanish punch. Though sangria is typically made with fresh fruit, Christine Kelley says a proprietary bottling process allows her and co-owner Tom Falzone to give those flavors a shelf life without changing the taste.
At twice the proof of most sangrias, Freefall Sangria is significantly less sweet than its competitors, and according to Kelley, “tastes more like a cocktail.”
Freefall had a long journey to launch. Kelley and Falzone are both skydivers; Kelley, who had been looking to leave her career as an English teacher, opened a café at Skydive the Ranch in Gardiner. During this time she experimented with sangria recipes and served the drinks to skydivers unwinding after an exhilarating day. To her surprise, they loved it so much they asked her to bottle it.
But requests for bottles soon became requests for cases. Tom, head coach for West Point’s skydiving team, regularly gifted the sangria to cadets at graduations and weddings. When their parents started asking for bottles too, Kelley and Falzone knew it was time to make the leap.
With Freefall now sold in 220 stores, demand is spilling over. But the duo have a plan to satisfy fans: In addition to scaling up their operation, a white wine sangria is in the works.