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2 Hudson Valley Vineyard Owners on the Terroir of the Region

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Barry Milea and his wife, Sang. The Milea Estate Vineyard property was purchased by Milea and his father more than three decades ago.
Photo by Maureen Gates, sharperimagephotogragraphic.com

Barry Milea of Milea Estate Vineyard and Yancey Stanforth-Migliore of Whitecliff Vineyard & Winery discuss climate, top vinos, and more.

On the surface, Milea Estate Vineyard and Whitecliff Vineyards seem very different. Milea was established in 2015; Whitecliff has been in business 20+ years. Milea offers high energy and fun; Whitecliff a more peaceful, relaxed setting. But the two have much more in common: gold-medal-winning wines, a commitment to the environment and to wine education, and a burning desire to make the Hudson Valley the world’s best wine region.

Barry Milea

Owner, Milea Estate Vineyard, Staatsburg

Why is the terroir of the Hudson Valley so favorable?
The land is much more complex. We can grow the gamut. The cost is not cheap, but what are you getting? You’re getting farm-to-table, you’re not polluting the environment, and you’re getting a world-class product that can compete with anywhere.

What makes a visit to your winery memorable?
The place is aesthetically pretty, and the people who work here really enjoy it. We try to make it comfortable and happy for everybody, and I think that resonates with customers. The quality of the product is important. And we’ll be doing wine classes with a world-class sommelier.

Which of your selections is a must-have for pairing with late-summer foods?
Our Rosés — Pinot Noir and regular — are really what you would pair with any summer dish. I would say our Cab Franc, Claret, or the Blaufrankisch go great with any grilling. With fish, our Chardonnay is outstanding — either stainless steel or Reserve.

What is your biggest seller?
The Cab Franc and Claret are two big sellers, but Rosé is the top seller. Rosé is an easy drinker. It’s non-intimidating.

What are some of the unique challenges winemakers face today?
Employment is difficult, to get the younger generation to be excited and involved in this industry. Climate is always a problem, because we get frost here and that hurts us. You pray! And getting the public to understand how good New York wine is.

Can you suggest a pairing with a local cheese or cured meat?
I like what we do on Friday nights when we have the tapas. It’s a little bit of everything, and I would love a glass of our Reserve Chardonnay with that.

Photo courtesy of Whitecliff Vineyard

Yancey Stanforth-Migliore

Co-Owner, Whitecliff Vineyard & Winery, Gardiner/Hudson

Why is the terroir of the Hudson Valley so favorable?
We have a good climate for it and great agricultural soil. This is a historically significant agricultural area because of the soils. We do tend to be colder, but there’s been wonderful research done at Cornell in cold climate grape growing that’s really expanded what we can do.

What makes a visit to your winery memorable?
I’ve had one customer tell me that they came for the view and they stayed for the wine. We’re serious about our wine and we’re excited to be getting back to guided tastings; we have over 30 fine wines to choose from.

Climate change is definitely a relevant challenge…. Being dependent on agriculture makes this business not for the faint of heart.
— Yancey Stanforth-Migliore

Which of your selections is a must-have for pairing with late-summer foods?
My personal choice would be our Rosé of Gamay Noir. This is estate-grown fruit from our Hudson vineyard. Rosés are wonderful in the summer and a lot of fun for food pairing.

What is your biggest seller?
Our Awosting White has been our top-selling wine for 20 years. It’s very popular because it’s soft and fruity up front but dry in the finish, so it appeals to a lot of people.

One of the largest vineyards in the Valley, Whitecliff works closely with the Cornell Cooperative Extension. It is co-owned by Yancey Stanforth-Migliore and Michael Migliore; Michael serves as the president of the Hudson Valley Wine and Grape Association. Photo courtesy of Whitecliff Vineyard

What are some of the unique challenges winemakers face today?
Climate change is definitely a relevant challenge. Not just warming by any means, but bizarre swings from unusual cold to hideous heat to drought to ruinous rain. And the potentially devastating pests. Being dependent on agriculture makes this business not for the faint of heart.

Can you suggest a pairing with a local cheese or cured meat?
I feel like almost all cheese is good with all wine. We love to pair the Tumbleweed cheese we sell here from 5 Spoke Creamery with either our steel-fermented 2020 Chardonnay or the Cabernet Franc of Sky Island Red, our gold-medal-winning Bordeaux blend.


Related: Milea Estate Vineyard Crafts Vine-to-Glass Vintages on a Breathtaking Hillside

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