25 Hudson Valley Wineries
The country's oldest wine-making region steps it up a notch by growing new grape varieties, producing award-winning wines, and hosting an ever-growing number of exciting all-day events
So what’s new on the Hudson Valley wine scene? Plenty, says Carlo DeVito. The unofficial cheerleader of Valley vino — he’s the owner of Hudson-Chatham Winery, co-founder of the Hudson-Berkshire Beverage Trail, and author of a blog entitled Hudson River Valley Wineries (www.hudsonriverwine.blogspot.com) — DeVito lists three factors that recently have had an impact on local winemaking. “Number one, there’s been a huge investment over the last three or four years in the Valley’s wineries,” he says, citing the “massive expansion” at Brotherhood Winery in Washingtonville (“it’s now the largest winery on the East Coast”), and the “sparkling new, state-of-the-art wine-making facility” recently built at Whitecliff Vineyard & Winery in Gardiner.
The second improvement has to do with the grapes themselves. “A lot more vinifera is being grown in the Valley,” DeVito explains. “And farmers and winemakers have increased their knowledge. It took a long time for some to understand that there’s a direct correlation between what you do in the vineyard and what comes out of the bottle. So we are now growing great fruit — and there’s been a real improvement in quality. Hudson Valley wines are starting to get high ratings in publications like Wine Enthusiast.”
Finally, DeVito lauds local winemakers “who have really invested their time in making great wine.” Names on his honor roll list include veterans John Graziano (Millbrook Vineyards & Winery) and Steve Casscles (Hudson-Chatham), as well as newcomers like Valley native Kristop Brown, who makes wine for three different establishments: Clinton Vineyards, Glorie Farm Winery in Marlboro, and Robibero Family Vineyards in New Paltz.
Oenologists can experience all that Valley wineries have to offer during Fall In Love with Hudson Valley Wine, a September-through-November promotion that kicks off with the Hudson Valley Wine and Food Fest (September 12 to 13) and features more than 100 concerts, festivals, grape-stomping parties, and other events. Can’t wait that long? Check out the happenings organized by the area’s wine trails (read more about it here), or drop in for a tasting — all of the wineries are open to visitors, and most host special events during the summer and beyond.
“What many people don’t know is that the Hudson Valley was one of the great grape-growing regions of New York State long before the Finger Lakes or Long Island,” says DeVito. “And great fruit is what it’s really all about.”
Whether you’re a savvy oenophile, a seasoned sommelier, or an eager and curious amateur, you’ll enjoy visiting these Hudson Valley wineries. In addition to proffering distinctive and delicious wines (with some offering just a few vintages and others offering as many as 50), each one has its own ambience. In addition to tastings, pairings, and tours, some offer lunch and dinner, others live music, dancing, and even wagon rides. Visit one, or make a weekend of it and visit several. (Just make sure to appoint a designated driver.)
Adair Vineyards, New Paltz
Open: May-December, Sat.-Sun.
Located in the shadow of the Shawangunk Ridge, Adair produces about 20,000 bottles of red, white, and fruit wines each year. All of the grapes used are locally grown: Most come from its 10-acre vineyard, with additional varieties sourced from a nearby farm. Tastings include a visit to the wine cellar, where you can see its custom-made stainless-steel fermentation tanks.
Sip this: Mountain Red, a three-grape red blend that is aged in oak barrels for seven months.
Applewood Winery, Warwick
Open: March-December, Fri.-Sun.
Located in a 40-acre apple orchard on the site of Orange County’s oldest farm (it dates back to 1700), Applewood currently sells 17 wine favorites — such as Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, and barrel-fermented reds — as well as four varieties of its Naked Flock hard cider. Summer weekends are busy here: Have lunch or snacks in the cafe while enjoying a free concert every Saturday; arrive before noon on “Mimosa Sundays” to savor one of these popular cocktails.
Sip this: Owner and winemaker Jonathan Hull suggests Traminette, “a hybrid white that’s very fruity; it tastes like a lychee nut.”
Don’t miss: Sampling the wines in the three-season tasting room, which overlooks a picturesque lake.
Baldwin Vineyards, Pine Bush
Open: March-December, Thurs.-Sun.
Fruit wines are the stars at Baldwin: Its strawberry, black raspberry, and red raspberry wine (the latter is named Trilogy in honor of the owners’ triplet grandchildren) were all medal winners at last year’s Finger Lakes International Wine Competition. But its list includes several whites, off-whites, and reds.
Sip this: Released last fall, Spiced Apple “comes in a Mason jar with a cinnamon stick,” says Wendy Landolina, a member of the Baldwin family. “It tastes like Grandma’s apple pie in a jar.”
Don’t miss: The Strawberry, Chocolate, and Wine Festival (July 11-12 and 25-26). “For $12, you receive 12 wines to taste and three desserts. We have live music, too,” Landolina says.
Bashakill Vineyards, Wurtsboro
Open: May-October, Sat.-Sun.; March-December, Sat. only
Paul Deninno, owner and winemaker at this Catskills winery, takes eco-consciousness to a new level. “Our grapes are grown organically,” he says, “and we use sheep for weed control and fertilizer.” Currently, there are 11 varieties available, including two estate wines. Its newest, a Merlot, “has been aging in our cave for 18 months,” says Deninno, referring to the winery’s concrete underground room, which provides the constant temperature and high humidity that’s perfect for aging wine. Look for port and Black Vulture Stout to be released later this year.
Sip this: “We are probably best-known for our Cabernet Franc, which we call Black Bear,” says Deninno.
Don’t miss: Live music on weekends and art shows on July 19 and August 30.
Benmarl Winery, Marlboro
Open: April-December, daily; January-March, Fri.-Sun.
Recognized as the oldest vineyard in America — vines were first planted here in 1845 — the 37-acre Benmarl Winery currently has “about 10 wines on the list — more whites than reds right now,” says General Manager Casey Erdmann. That’s not surprising, since the Baco Noir and Cabernet Franc, both estate wines, are Benmarl’s most popular. “You’re looking at the vines where the grapes are grown right here,” she points out.
Sip this: Any of three new releases: Seyval Blanc, Marlboro Village Red, or Marlboro Village White.
Don’t miss: The 10th annual Hudson Valley July Sangria Festival (July 18-19), with “flamenco dancers, fresh sangria — peach is the most popular — and lots of barbecue,” says Erdmann.
Brimstone Hill Vineyard & Winery, Pine Bush
Open: Year-round, Sat.-Sun.
Now celebrating its 30th year, this small winery is “fundamentally interested in producing quality wines with a French character at a reasonable price,” according to its website. The nine wines on its list include a sparkling white made in the French “méthode champenoise” (similar to Champagne), and Noiret, a relatively new hybrid red wine with a peppery accent.
Sip this: The 2013 Chardonnay, the silver medalist at last year’s Hudson Valley Wine and Spirits competition.
Brookview Station Winery, Castleton
Open: Year-round, daily
Located at Goold Orchards in Rensselaer County, Brookview Station offers 12 wines as well as three hard ciders; the fact that cider is becoming an important product “is one of the exciting things now happening for Hudson Valley wineries,” says proprietor Sue Goold Miller. New on her shelves: “Moonlight Marquette, a medium-bodied red wine, which we’re hoping to have by July,” says Miller. “Peach and strawberry wines are also a possibility.”
Sip this: The popular — and award-winning — Sunset Charlie, a blended rosè which Miller calls “our ‘dog wine,’ because it has a picture of our yellow Lab, Charlie, on the label.”
Don’t miss: “Wine-ing a bit” at the custom-made, 17-foot red oak tasting bar.
Brotherhood Winery, Washingtonville
Open: April-December, daily
Brotherhood, which produced its first wine 1839, and has continued for the 176 years since, is widely considered to be the oldest continually operating winery in the U.S. In fact, it was in business even during Prohibition, when it made altar wine. Today, it offers about 50 vintages, says the marketing department’s Stephanie Wagner. “Our Riesling and Pinot Noir are crowd-pleasers, and our Cabernet Sauvignon won Best in Class at the New York Wine and Food Classic in 2014.”
Sip this: This month’s Wine and Beer Festival (July 11), and next month’s Wine and Sangria Pig Roast (August 29). The site’s Vinum Cafe serves lunch and dinner Wednesday through Sunday.
Cascade Mountain Winery, Amenia
Open: Year-round, Sat.-Sun.
Nestled in the foothills of the Berkshires in eastern Dutchess County, this family-run winery has seven table wines — including the popular Heavenly Daze, a red dessert wine — on its current list. Weekend tastings are free with any purchase, and include a variety of Valley-sourced cheeses and other foods; sample all of these offerings on its comfortable porch.
Sip this: Summertide, a semi-dry white made with Seyval Blanc grapes; it’s perfect for a picnic.
Clearview Vineyard, Warwick
Open: April-December; Sat.-Sun. and by appointment
This fledgling winery produced its first 10 bottles of wine in 2008 — one of the owners, Karen Graessle, stomped the grapes herself. Last year, four of its vintages took home medals at the Hudson Valley Wine and Spirits Competition. Seven of its wines are estate-bottled, using only grapes produced in its own vineyard.
Sip this: Estate Divinity White, made from a hybrid of Cayuga White and Riesling grapes developed by Cornell Cooperative Extension; Clearview is one of only a handful of vineyards that grow this grape.
Clinton Vineyards, Clinton Corners
Open: April-July, Sat.-Sun.; July-September, Fri.-Sun.
Soon to have its 40th anniversary, this esteemed winery was founded by Ben and Phyllis Feder. “It’s based on the small, estate-style vineyards in France,” says Phyllis (above; Ben passed away in 2009). Along with award-winning cassis (see accompanying story), Clinton is known for its Seyval Blanc, which is “recognized as one of the best in the Valley,” she says. The landscaped grounds featuring a Dutch barn and pond make the winery “a real destination. A visit here is a beautiful, intimate experience.”
Sip this: “For the first time in our history, we will have a wine made with grapes from the Finger Lakes — a Riesling,” says Feder. “It’s quite delicious.” Feder expects the Riesling to be available this month.
Demarest Hill Winery Vineyard & Distillery, Warwick
Open: Year-round, daily
More than 50 products are offered by Italian native Francesco Ciummo, a self-described “winemaker, wine seller, and wine drinker.” Besides whites and reds, Demarest has a long list of distilled beverages — such as Italian favorites like grappa, anisette, and limoncello — as well as balsamic vinegar.
Sip this: Black Pearl, a full-bodied red, was a prize-winner at the New York State Fair; Chardonnay Supreme is aged in oak for two years.
El Paso Winery, Ulster Park
Open: April-December, Weds.-Sun.
“I do it all myself,” says Maryl Vogel, owner of this small winery best known for its dry red blends. About 25 varieties of wine are currently on its list, all of which are made using only New York State grapes. “My reds come from Long Island; the Chardonnay and whites are from the Finger Lakes,” she says. A different vintage goes on sale every three weeks.
Sip this: Black Bear, Vogel’s bestselling Cabernet/Merlot blend.
Don’t miss: Sipping sangria (a weekend favorite) and munching finger foods on the winery’s new outdoor deck. “It’s really become a popular place to come and hang out,” says Vogel.
Glorie Farm Winery, Marlboro
Open: April-December, Sat.-Sun.; September-October, Fri.-Sun.
“We grow 14 different types of wine grapes on our 54-acre estate vineyard and farm,” says owner Doug Glorie about this family-owned boutique winery, which now produces about 1,200 cases a year. Located in a 1913 mountaintop barn in Ulster County — “we have the best winery view of the Hudson River Valley,” he boasts — the winery makes 18 different types of vino, including reds, whites, and fruit wines. “Our most popular, as rated by our customers, is Candy Ass Red,” says Glorie. “Our best wine is Cabernet Franc.” Guided wine tastings take place on weekends and holiday Mondays; sample five wines for $6 (and you get to keep the glass).
Sip this: Mutiny, a hard apple cider released last year; 80 percent of the apples come from Glorie Farm itself.
Hudson-Chatham Winery, Ghent
Open: Year-round, Weds.-Sun.
“It’s been a pretty good couple of years,” says Hudson-Chatham owner Carlo DeVito. Indeed, a number of his wines have ratings “in the 85- to 88-point range,” he says, while the Baco Noir is the highest rated in the entire U.S. “Everything is done by hand — no fining, no filtering — on a 100-year-old press,” says DeVito. “We’re as old-fashioned as you can possibly get.” Old fashioned, yes — but also unique: The winery’s Fieldstone Baco Noir is aged “with stones collected on our farm, and toasted oak chips from a tree that fell,” says DeVito. “It’s a really popular wine.”
Sip this: Empire — a combination of Merlot grapes grown on Long Island, Cabernet Franc from the Finger Lakes, and Baco Noir from the Hudson Valley — which DeVito calls New York State’s first “superblend.”
Don’t miss: Saturday wine tastings, which include a selection of three Valley-produced cheeses to savor with your vino.
Kedem Winery, Marlboro
Open: Year-round, Sun.-Thurs.
Established in Europe in 1848, and still owned by the same family, Kedem specializes in kosher wines distributed by its parent company, New Jersey’s Royal Wine Corp. Approximately 25 wines listed under the Kedem label can be savored at the winery’s newly renovated tasting room.
Sip this: Kedem Estates Cabernet Sauvignon, made exclusively from New York State grapes.
Magnanini Winery & Restaurant, Wallkill
Open: April-December, Sat.-Sun.
A visit to this Orange County winery is unlike any other in the Valley. “We serve a six-course dinner on weekends, with live music and dancing,” says Vineyard Manager Robert Magnanini. “We serve Northern Italian cuisine. It’s a five-hour affair, with a wine-tasting beforehand.” The family-owned winery produces eight different wines, including Mirtillo, a cranberry wine (unique, says Magnanini, “I don’t know of anyone else who does that”), and grappa.
Sip this: The popular Rosso da Tavola, a semi-dry red.
Don’t miss: The homemade tagliatelle pasta at dinner: “It’s what we’re known for,” Magnanini says.
Millbrook Vineyards & Winery, Millbrook
Open: Year-round, daily
Currently celebrating its 30th anniversary, this 120-acre estate “is something of a tourist destination,” says David Bova, vice president and general manager; about 16,000 people visited last year alone. “It is a very pretty area, it has that ‘wine country’ feel.” The 35 acres of French vinifera provide “about 50 percent of the grapes we need” for the 15 wines on its list, he says. New on the shelves is the 2013 Riesling, an estate wine.
Sip this: Tocai Friulano, another estate white, uses a grape variety native to Italy.
Don’t miss: Weekend lunch at the pondside Vineyard Grille & Cafe, followed by a stroll along the Vineyard Walking Trail; both sites offer “beautiful views,” says Bova.
Palaia Vineyards, Highland Mills
Open: Year-round, Fri.-Sun.
“We have 10 wines on our list right now,” says Craig Cowton, operations manager at Palaia Vineyards. “About half of the grapes in our wines are our own.” Housed in a 200-year-old restored barn, the winery offers tastings Friday through Sunday (five wines for $6); big draws are the live music (even on Fridays) and the local craft beer on tap. On the way to the tasting room, check out the display of Palaia’s distinctive wine labels, which feature old-time photographs that date back to the 1800s.
Sip this: “In 2013-14, we released Pearl, a dry, crisp Cayuga White blend,” says Cowton, “and we sold out.” Renamed Pearl Power, a new vintage should be available by the time you read this.
Don’t miss: Live outdoor entertainment on Saturdays, with summertime weekend wagon rides through the vineyards.
Robibero Family Vineyards, New Paltz
Open: Year-round, July-December, Thurs.-Mon.
Established just five years ago on the site of the former Rivendell Winery, Robibero is still in its growth stage. “We’re small,” says Ryan Selby, who — along with his father-in-law, Harry Robibero — is one of two winemakers. “We’ll be just starting to establish our own vineyard in about a week.” Small in size it may be, but this winery is big on quality: Its New Yorkie Rosè — named for the family’s Yorkshire terrier — took top honors at last year’s Hudson Valley Wine & Spirits Competition.
Sip this: Another HV Competition champ — and Selby’s “personal favorite” — 87 North, a blend of Vidal Blanc and Cayuga White.
Don’t miss: Red, White, and Blues (July 4-5), with live blues music, barbecued food, and fireworks.
Stoutridge Vineyard, Marlboro
Open: Year-round, Fri.- Sun.
A biochemist-turned-winemaker, Stoutridge’s Stephen Osborn owns the only winery in the nation that uses no chemicals, sugars, or sulphites in its production. “We’re not doing it this way to be trendy,” says Osborn of his process. “We just want the fermentation flavors to come to the forefront of the wine.” The winery produces about 25 varieties, of which 16 are currently available for sale only at the winery (“we can’t do distribution because the wines are not stable,” says Osborn).
Sip this: Hudson Heritage White, “a field blend of local grapes, all of which were grown within a mile of the winery.”
Don’t miss: Wine-tasting with the winemaker. “I do every tasting,” he says. “The great thing is you can really learn about wine.”
Torne Valley Vineyards, Hillburn
Awarded the distinction of becoming the first fully functioning winery in Rockland County, this recently founded vineyard was named one of Martha Stewart Weddings 6 Best New York Wineries for Hosting a Wedding. On Weekends, guests can enjoy a small-plates menu at the Vineyards’ restored Victorian mansion, and, after a tasting, take a stroll around the beautifully landscaped grounds overlooking the Ramapo River.
Sip this: Sweet Summertime, a blend of Cayuga, Vidal Blanc, and Vignoles grape varietals. With hints of peach and citrus, this vineyard favorite is best served cold or as the perfect foundation for your summertime sangria.
Don’t miss: The We Can Share the Wine Music Festival (July 18).
Tousey Winery, Germantown
Open: Year-round, Fri.- Sun.
Another relative newcomer (it’s been in business since 2006), this 15-acre Columbia County spot has already made a big splash on the local wine scene: The winery garnered five medals at last year’s Hudson Valley Wine and Spirits Competition, while its Cabernet Franc was named 2011 Wine of the Year by the New York Cork Report. The current list includes four whites, three reds, as well as creme de cassis (made from currants and honey both produced on-site). Husband-and-wife team Ben and Kimberly Peacock currently oversee the business, which was started by Kimberly’s father, Ray Tousey.
Sip this: Riesling, an estate-bottled white wine with apricot and peach notes.
Warwick Valley Winery & Distillery, Warwick
Open: Year-round, daily
When it opened its doors in 1994, Warwick Valley offered three wines and one cider. Today, 40 different products are available at this Orange County mainstay — which launched its own distillery in 2012 to produce bourbon, applejack, and other hard liquors. Which wine is most popular? “That depends on your definition of wine,” says co-owner Jeremy Kidde. “If you use a broad definition, it would be our Doc’s Draft Hard Apple Cider,” a gold-medal winner at the Hudson Valley Wine and Spirits Competition. But the winery’s traditional and fruit wines also have an enthusiastic following.
Sip this: Black Dirt Red, one of the winery’s bestsellers, which is made from 100-percent Baco Noir grapes.
Don’t miss: Dead Fest (August 15 to 16), a two-day festival of the Grateful Dead’s music. “We get artists from all over the country to play at our music festivals,” said Kidde. “Typically, about 1,000 people come to the shows.”
Whitecliff Vineyard & Winery, Gardiner
Open: June-October, daily
When asked how many wines are on Whitecliff’s list, Tasting Room Manager Matt Student replies, “A lot — around 25 or so.” Operated by the Migliore family, the site includes one of the Valley’s largest vineyards, home to more than 20 different grape varieties. Customers clamor most for Awosting White and Red Trail, a pair of hybrid blends.
Sip this: The recently released Total Seyval Blanc; coming soon, Two Cabs — “the first and only blend of Hudson Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, which will use all Hudson Valley-grown fruit. It should be out some time over the summer or in early fall,” says Student.
Don’t miss: The July 4 Vertical Tasting and 16th Birthday Sale, during which tasters can sample and compare the same wine produced in different years.