A Massive New Winery Comes to This Historic Orange County Property
City Winery’s expansion plan for Montgomery Mills includes a winemaking facility, hotel, restaurant, and more.
Rendering by Todd Zwigard Architects
It’s about to be wine o’ clock in Orange County.
As if the Hudson Valley wasn’t already a paradise for vino aficionados, the region is poised to become even more of a wine destination in 2019. Coming this autumn, City Winery, the multi-metropolis wine chain that fuses the best of the small-town wine scene with contemporary music and art, will open its doors in Montgomery.
Set to reside in the historic Montgomery Mills property located at 23 Factory Street, the winery will be the first non-urban site for City Winery, which currently operates locations in New York City, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Nashville, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C. Helmed by Michael Dorf, the founder of New York City’s popular Knitting Factory nightclub, the chain is a favorite for wine lovers who crave the experience of a traditional winery in the heart of a big city.
“I had been looking for a while for a Hudson Valley site,” reveals Dorf. The search took over two years and considered more than 10 different locations. Ultimately, Dorf fell for the Montgomery site because it combined history with ample space for events and winemaking, not to mention easy access to New York City and Woodstock.
Of course, there’s also the sentimental tie to Dorf’s days at the Knitting Factory.
“When we discovered an old mill on ‘Factory’ Street and, next to the street sign, a sign for ‘Montgomery Mills, Knitting Wear,’ and thus a true ‘Knitting Factory,’ I knew it was destiny before even seeing the beautiful old buildings,” he recalls.
Unlike the metropolitan branches of City Winery, the Hudson Valley offshoot will be much more of an experience-driven location, heightening the wine and entertainment fusion that powers the winery chain at its core.
According to a proposal submitted to the Village of Montgomery, City Winery plans to turn the longtime industrial space into a mixed-use development that includes a restaurant, a wine tasting bar, a 14-room boutique hotel, and spaces for ceremonies and performances. The renovation will make use of the already existing architecture to highlight the space’s history and relevance in the community.
“Twenty-two acres along a beautiful river with a waterfall that we are generating electricity with hydropower is very different from our other locations,” says Dorf. “Within that will be eight acres of planted vines where we are going to grow grapes and include in the 500 tons of grapes we bring from California, Oregon, and Washington as part of our program.”
Set to open in fall 2019, the new Hudson Valley winery will launch just in time for wine trail festivities and seasonal happenings in the region. With the completion of the event spaces and hotel in summer 2020 and 2021-22, respectively, the destination, with its close proximity to the Wallkill River, will be an attractive setting for weddings and music performances as well.
"Given the growth of the craft beverage industry, this is the perfect time to transform a unique industrial space to a manufacturing and event center," says Amanda Dana, the director of Orange County Tourism. "We want to thank Michael Dorf and his team for choosing the Village of Montgomery and Orange County as the home of their newest location and congratulate them on their well-deserved Empire State Development award."
To assist with building costs, Dorf and City Winery recently received $832,000 in funding through the Regional Economic Development Council. In total, the plan for the winery development in Orange County runs an estimated $5 million.
Prior to its ownership by City Winery, the historic Montgomery Mills site served as an industrial center in Orange County for over two centuries. After beginning in 1813 as the Montgomery Worsted Mills grist mill, the formerly wooden space had to be rebuilt with bricks after a fire in 1892.
Since then, the property, which was owned by brothers Jeffrey and Joseph Steinberger of Steinberger Bros Realty LLC., has been home to everything from Henry’s Attic, a hand-knitting yarn company, to H.C. Davis Boiler Co. and Valley Cabinets. Keeping with tradition, City Winery hopes to use electricity from the mill generators, along with solar power, to fuel the space.