Wild About Wine
We heard through the grapevine that Hudson Valley wines are becoming the
crÃ¨me of the crop. We pressed local vitiners to find out why
By Shannon Gallagher
Stoutridge vineyards, Marlboro
While California’s Napa Valley remains the most prominent of North American wine making regions, the East Coast’s own mini-mecca in the Hudson Valley is growing stronger with each passing year. “The best growing year ever for the Hudson Valley was 2007,” says Debbie Gioquindo, Marketing and PR Manager of the Shawangunk Wine Trail, For winemakers, a good growing season is one where Mother Nature “cooperates,” providing just the right conditions at just the right time in the vines’ maturation to ensure the fruit will meet optimal grape-ripeness parameters. This facilitates the production of a well-balanced juice, not just in flavor, but in alcohol content, as well. Michael Migliore, President of Hudson Valley Wine and Grape Association and owner of Whitecliff Vineyards and Winery in Gardiner, has been making wine for over 30 years, and also declares 2007 the “best ever” without hesitation. “It was a vintage year — it was perfect.” “Last year it wasn’t a terribly cold winter,” Gioquindo explains,” so a lot of vines weren’t killed.” Sue Goold Miller, owner of Goold Orchards and Brookview Station Winery in Castleton (in Rensselaer County) adds that, with roughly 200 growing days, 2007 was one of the longest growing seasons they’d ever had. (The growing season usually begins in April with vines blooming in June and harvest as early as September.)
“We didn’t have a killing frost until almost Halloween, which was highly unusual,” Miller points out. And as though by the will of Bacchus, the mild temperatures were complimented by the perfect amount of rain, another important factor in the success of a crop.
Every wine-producing region in the world must contend with its own atmospheric ups and downs. The Hudson Valley, a relatively young region comparatively, is unique from California in its cooler, more variable temperatures. What this offers Hudson Valley wine is a lot of different properties in terms of flavor, according to Miller. “Wine judges from California love the complexity of flavors [in HV wine],” she explains; such complexity is a result of New York’s many microclimates.
“Microclimate is everything. In the Hudson Valley alone you have a number of different climates. Brookview is 80 miles north of New Paltz, so our climate is different than that of many other Hudson Valley wineries [along the Shawangunk Wine Trail].” Gioquindo agrees. “There is wine in each [Wine Trail] tasting room for every taste — sweet, semi-sweet, dry, off-dry,” she says. “There are wines to match every palate.”
So how should Hudson Valley residents (and visitors) enjoy the fruits of this banner year? Gioquindo suggests that oenophiles everywhere pay attention to 2007 vintages from Whitecliff. “They had an exceptional crop,” she notes, affirming Migliore’s confident appraisal. Not to be missed are the 2007 Vintage Traminette and Riesling, to be released this month. Migliore also looks forward to the release of his Gamay Noir and Cabernet Franc, two power reds that will be ready late summer to early fall. Also from Whitecliff is their ever-popular Awosting White, a Seyval Blanc-Vignoles blend that is one of several Hudson Heritage Whites to be found in tasting rooms across the valley as local grape growers and winemakers look to cultivate a varietal that is uniquely Hudson Valley.
Tim Buzinski of the Artisan Wine Shop in Beacon has a few local wines on his hit list, too. Among them Warwick Valley Winery’s Riesling, Millbrook’s Tocai Friuliano, and Whitecliff’s Sparkling White, made from the eponymous Seyval Blanc. For reds, Buzinski is looking forward to the Baco Noirs to come from Benmarl Winery in Marlboro and Warwick Valley. Like Seyval, Baco Noir is a predominately New York State varietal. “The grape is very resistant to cold, so it thrives here,” explains Buzinski.
“It has lots of character — high acidity, but it can have a smoky nose. It’s fresh and crisp. It can be heavy or light, depending on the winemaker.” And if Baco Noir can produce even in the wintry cold, fans of the French hybrid will be in for a treat this year given 2007’s prime conditions.
Fruit in Fashion
Local growers know fruit wines aren’t just for the dessert table anymore
Looking for a fresh alternative to summer cocktail stand-bys like mojitos and caiparhinas? Well, look no further than your local winery. It’s no surprise that in a region where orchards abound, winemakers are thinking outside the box, or more accurately, off the grapevine. Baldwin Vineyards (Pine Bush), Applewood Vineyards (Warwick), and Brookview Station Winery (Castleton) are among the Hudson Valley wine producers happily cashing in on all that fresh fruit.
Made by the same vinification process as other wines, but using locally grown fresh fruit like apples, blackberries, raspberries, peaches, and strawberries, fruit wine is finding its own way in the Valley.
Many producers of fruit wine enjoy challenging people’s preconceptions of the beverage. While some fruit wine, particularly that made from berries, has a plethora of uses, the apple varieties are more straightforward. Their semi-dry crispness makes them ideal for pairing with spicy food, seafood, and other dishes usually paired well with off-dry whites.
Brookview Station’s 2006 semi-dry apple “Whistle Stop White” wine won the Cornell Cup at the 2007 Hudson Valley Wine Awards, the contest’s highest honor. “We got the most points out of any wine,” winery owner Sue Goold Miller boasts. “It’s still exciting to talk about.” In addition to their award-winning apple wine, Brookview makes a pear wine (“Oh What a Pear”) and an apple-pear blend (“Pomona”). Enjoy them on a hot summer day, chilled in a wine glass or champagne flute.
Michele Hull, co-owner of Applewood Winery — producers of semi-dry peach, blueberry, blackberry, and apple wines — has a few suggestions for making use of their fruit based wines. For more than 12 years, Applewood has been making sparkling apple cider in the Normandy style. “They have the feeling of apple Champagne,” Hull explains. Lighter than a German- or English-style hard cider, Applewood brews in local honey to sweeten their cider, which has a lower alcohol content (about six percent) than most traditional table wines (usually 11 or 12 percent). “It’s a great informal drink for warm weather,” says Hull.
“Blackberry wine is the perfect balance of sweet and tart — it dances on your tongue.” Drink it on its own as a dessert wine, add a splash to Champagne for a beautiful Kir Royale-like wedding toast, or use in lieu of vodka for a fresh and fruity, all-natural martini. It also makes a great marinade for chicken or pork loin, and is a tantalizing addition to chocolate fondue.
Blueberries, one of several “superfoods” rich in antioxidants, are said to boost your memory. Try serving Blueberry Sangria (blueberry wine, brandy, fresh fruit, and mint) with spicy Mexican or Southwestern food. If you prefer white sangria, try using peach wine. The surprisingly semi-sweet delight also pairs very well with cheese.
Rounding out the berry trifecta: strawberries. Baldwin Vineyard’s strawberry wine has won top honors in both national and local competitions. “[We] were the first to pioneer fruit wine in the Hudson Valley,” claims Tom Yankanin, Baldwin’s General Manager. Each 750 ml. bottle contains three pounds of fresh strawberries, all grown in New York State. Now that’s one potent, homegrown beverage.
“Because of its intense flavor, fruit wine is the perfect compliment to dessert,” Yankanin says. According to him, strawberry wines pair best with chocolate, and also work well blended in a strawberry daiquiri. But strawberry wine has some formidable culinary clout, too. It can be infused into gravy and reductions, or for basting chicken and duck. “It has really come a long way,” Yankanin reflects.
Whether you’re heading out for a day, a week, or an hour, these Hudson Valley winery events are not to be missed
Whitecliff Vineyard’s Fresh Fish in the Vineyard
Come celebrate the release of Whitecliff’s 2007 Awosting White, Traminette, and Riesling at a truly unique event on Whitecliff’s picturesque grounds. The highly-anticipated vintage whites will compliment a tasting of New York farm-raised rainbow trout from Ron Koniz Farm in the Finger Lakes Region. For more information, visit www.gunkswine.com or www.whitecliffwine.com
Shawangunk Wine Trail’s 16th Annual Around the World in 80 Miles
This Father’s Day weekend grab your passport and venture out for a whirlwind tour around the globe… without ever leaving the Valley! For one weekend, 10 wineries
along the trail take on the persona of a different global wine-producing region.
Guests have the opportunity to sample the food of foreign lands paired with wine
made right here along the Hudson. Reservations required. For more information, visit www.gunkswine.com
Bounty of the Hudson
“This is a true Hudson Valley wine festival,” says Marketing and PR Manager of Shawangunk Wine Trail Debbie Gioquindo about the 12th annual event. Last year, 17 valley wineries participated. “Many wineries don’t have tasting rooms, so Bounty of the Hudson is the only place to taste their wines,” urges Gioquindo. The festivities are rounded out by other local delights, including produce, cheese, crafts, and live music. For tickets, visit www.gunkswine.com
Rivendell Winery’s 14th Annual Lobster Fest
Enjoy an authentic “Down-East” lobster feast with all of the trimmings. The tented event features live music all afternoon. For more information, visit www.rivendellwine.com
Millbrook Winery’s Harvest Party
Come visit one of the Hudson Valley’s best-known wineries and sample their award-winning wines. For tickets, visit www.millbrookwine.com
December 6-7, 13-14, 20-21
Wreath Fineries at the Wineries
Join other revelers as they spread holiday cheer, taste wine, and sample gourmet food down the Shawangunk Wine Trail. Each participant is given a grapevine wreath on which to collect ornaments as they visit each of the seven participating wineries. For tickets, visit www.gunkswine.com
Shawangunk Wine Trail
This well-trodden trail — which stretches from New Paltz south to Warwick — is composed of 10 family-owned wineries. Many of these wine-makers have won national recognition. The group hosts four major events a year (see examples on page 50), but many of the wineries hold their own special events as well.
New Paltz. 845-255-1377; www.adairwine.com
Red and white wines, dry to sweet. Tours, tastings, shop, picnic area. Open Juneâ€“Oct., daily.
APPLEWOOD WINERY & VINEYARD
Warwick. 845-988-9292; www.applewoodwinery.com
Each wine is produced in a limited edition. Reds and whites, hard apple cider, McIntosh apple wine, dessert apple wine. Shop, tours, tastings. Open Apr.-Sept., Sat.-Sun.
Pine Bush. 845-744-2226; www.baldwinvineyards.com
Chardonnay, Riesling, Merlot, dessert wine, fruit wines. Tastings. Open Apr.-June, Fri-Mon.
Marlboro. 845-236-4265; www.benmarl.com
The vineyard has grown over 100 European vines since the 18th century. Produces estate-grown Baco Noir.
GLORIE FARM WINERY
Marlboro. 845-236-3265; www.gloriewine.com
A boutique-style winery featuring Seyval Blanc, rosÃ©, and DeChaunac; other wines including pear, apple, and Red Monkey. Open May-Dec., Sat.-Sun.
New Paltz. 845-255-2494; www.rivendellwine.com
Featuring 16 different noted wines including Merlot, Chardonnay, Reisling, and dessert wines. Tours, tasting room, shop. Open year-round, daily.
Established in 1839. America’s oldest, continually-operating winery on the National Register of Historic Places. Largest underground cellars in the U.S. Pinot Noir, Riesling, and Champagnes. Tours, tastings. Open Apr.-Dec, daily. Weekend events and wine classes, Jan.-March.
Stoutridge vineyards Marlboro.
Winery uses hands-off “gravity flow” technique. Pinot Blanc, Vidal Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Noir, Sangionese. Outdoor patio. Open year-round, Fri.-Sun.
WHITECLIFF VINEYARD & WINERY
Gardiner. 845-255-4613; www.whitecliffwine.com
Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Awosting White. Tasting room overlooks winemaking equipment. Open Feb.-Dec., Thurs.-Sun.
WARWICK VALLEY WINERY & DISTILLERY
Warwick. 845-258-4858; www.wvwinery.com
The Valley’s first fruit distillery. Hard apple and rasberry cider; fruit wines. Wine tastings, country store, live music every weekend. Open year-round, daily. Bakery/cafÃ© open weekends.
Dutchess Wine Trail
This trail, on the Eastern side of the Hudson, yields three all-star wineries. Try Alison Vineyards’ award-winning Pinot Noir; Clinton Vineyards’ Seyval Blanc and fruit dessert wines; or the classic French varietals of Millbrook Vineyards, consistently rated among New York State’s best.
Red Hook. 845-758-6335; www.alisonwines.com
Specializes in dry table wines and sweet fruit dessert wines. Tours and tastings. Open Apr.-Dec.
Clinton Corners. 845-266-5372; www.clintonvineyards.com
Makers of French-style sparkling wines, Cassis, and dessert wines. Tours, tastings, gift shop. Open year-round, Thurs.-Mon.
Millbrook Vineyards & Winery
Millbrook. 845-677-8383; www.millbrookwine.com
Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, Hunt Country Red and White. Special events include art exhibits and Harvest Party (Oct.). Tours, tastings. Open year-round, daily.
BRIMSTONE HILL VINEYARD
Pine Bush. 845-744-2231; www.brimstonehillwine.com
Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Cayuga White, Riesling, Pinot Noir, red and white table wines. Tours, tastings, shop. Open May-Oct., Fri.-Mon.
CASCADE MOUNTAIN WINERY & RESTAURANT
Amenia. 845-373-9021; www.cascademt.com
Eight wines, including Seyval Blanc, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon. Restaurant pairs Cascade wines and local produce. Tours, tastings, shop. Open Sat.-Sun.
DEMAREST HILL WINERY & whiskey distillery
Warwick. 845-986-4723; www.demaresthillwinery.com
Wine-maker and owner Francesco Ciummo’s specialties include “Warwick Black Pearl” wine, Cabernet Sauvignons, Zinfandels, and fruit wines. Open daily.
EL PASO WINERY
Ulster Park. 845-331-8642; www.elpasowinery.com
Free wine tastings of 20 blends and wines, mostly dry. Shop. Open Wed.-Sun.
brookview station winery at Goold Orchards
Apple, pear, and apple-pear wines. Sweet and semi-dry. Open Jan.-Aug., Mon-Sat.
MAGNANINI WINERY & RESTAURANT
Wallkill. 845-895-2767; www.magwine.com
French and American wines and blends, including Seyval Blanc and Chancellor. Prix-fixe Northern-Italian dinner available with wines. Tastings, shop. Open Apr.-Dec., Sat.-Sun.
ROYAL KEDEM WINERY
Marlboro. 845-236-4281; www.royalwines.com
One of the largest kosher vineyards in the country; selection of over 200 local and foreign wines. Shop, tastings. Open year-round,