Wineries and Vineyards, Columbia County
Wine tours, wineries, and vineyards to visit in Columbia County
Hudson-Chatham Winery, Ghent
Open: Year-round; Fri.-Sun.
Columbia County’s first, this boutique-style winery specializes in small-batch reds and whites made from Long Island, Finger Lakes, and Hudson Valley grapes. Tours, tastings, local artisanal cheeses and desserts, corporate and private events, including weddings.
SIP THIS: Hudson River Valley Red — the 2009 Hudson Valley Wine and Grape Association Gold Winner and Best in Category.
Share a glass: Tousey Winery’s Kimberly Peacock at the 15-acre vineyard
Tousey Winery, Germantown
Tousey Winery began with a dream. The winery’s founder, Ray Tousey, wanted to produce homemade cassis — a liqueur made from a blend of four varieties of black currants. The problem was, growing black currants had long been banned in several states, including New York. Back in the early 1900s, they carried a fungus that affected white pine trees. The “forbidden fruit” ban was finally lifted in New York — formerly a top U.S. producer of currants — in 2003, and the fruit became popular again.
Tousey, also a beekeeper with 200-some hives, revived his plan to create a crème de cassis using all local ingredients, including his own berries and honey. “In order to do this, he had to open a winery,” explained Ben Peacock, who grew up in England and is married to Tousey’s daughter, Kimberly. So, to make his cassis dream come true, Ray opened Tousey Winery in 2006.
Nowadays, the whole family — including Ray, Kimberly, and Ben — helps run the business. Their 15-acre vineyard, with Chardonnay, Riesling and Pinot Noir in production, is right on the banks of the Hudson River (artist Frederic Church’s historic home, Olana, overlooks the site). They grow about 50 percent of their own grapes; the rest come from the Finger Lakes district. In addition to crème de cassis, they offer four varieties of white wine, and two reds.
“We’re most excited about the new estate-bottled Riesling that we’re releasing on June 16,” says Peacock. “To my knowledge, it’s the only one on the market made solely from Hudson Valley grapes.” They’re also offering a new rosé on that day. “Some people turn their nose up at rosé wines. But they’re actually challenging to make. We take our rosé seriously,” says Peacock. Customers also enjoy Tousey Winery’s popular Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc. “And we hope to launch two new wines in late July, with funky, edgy labeling, to appeal to younger wine drinkers.”
Visitors can sample Tousey’s offerings at the winery’s rustic, comfy tasting room, which has been open for about 18 months. “All our wines are available to try, and we also feature other items, like jams, that are grown and made right here on the estate,” Peacock says. There’s honey, too; even wine soaps; and works by local artists on display. Tousey also sells its products at farmers markets in Kingston and Rhinebeck, and at fairs and other special events throughout the Valley.
“We’re unapologetically about New York,” says Peacock. “We want to put this area on the map. We think the Hudson Valley region can, and should, continue to grow into a major wine producer.” — Dale McKnight