Milea Estate Vineyard is one of those places in the Hudson Valley that leaves visitors a little speechless.
After cruising in the quiet countryside of Dutchess County, oenophiles turn off Hollow Road and onto a curving, gravel-lined drive. As they work their way up the hillside, they pass by row after row of vines framed by a towering forest of trees. At the top of the hill, they take a moment to admire the panorama beyond before stopping to pick up a to-go order or ambling into the airy, light-filled tasting room for a perfect pour. From there, the only thing left to do is to enjoy the vintage – it’s sure to be just as delightful at home as it is at the winery – and wile away a perfect afternoon in the Hudson Valley.
Sounds charming? It is.
It’s also something of a rarity in Dutchess County.
“We produce a product that can link the Dutchess wine trail,” explains Tom Ryan, noting that Milea sits primely between Millbrook Vineyards & Winery in Millbrook and Clinton Vineyards in Clinton Corners. A consultant at the winery with a background that includes a degree from the Culinary Institute of America, Ryan, who also helped launch Troutbeck in Amenia and Woodstock Way Hotel in Woodstock, is part of the trifecta of leaders hustling to put Milea on the map. He works alongside owner Barry Milea, who purchased the property with his father in 1984, and Ed Evans, a retired Manhattan cop and cider connoisseur. By combining their respective backgrounds in the industry, the three craft a unique identity for their winery in the Hudson Valley.
Did we mention that Milea is a new kid on the block?
Admittedly, new is something of an overstatement. The winery made its grand debut in the summer of 2015, with Bruce Tripp as the chief winemaker. Yet in comparison with other wineries in the Hudson Valley – Millbrook Vineyards & Winery opened in 1982, while Clinton Vineyards debuted in 1976 – Milea is still in its early days.
Young-ish though the winery may be, it’s far from lacking in both experience and quality. On its 98 acres of rolling grounds, it boasts close to 12 acres of planted grapes and two acres of apples. In addition to growing six to seven varietals of grapes onsite, including one of the largest Cabernet Franc plantings in the Hudson Valley, it purchases additional quantities from the Finger Lakes and Long Island to produce the 13 styles of wine for which it’s known.
As far as signature sips go, Milea produces a variety of reds, rosés, and whites that are just as approachable as they are enjoyable. According to Ryan, the winery’s 2017 Cabernet Franc, a medium red with notes of cherry and tobacco, and the 2017 Semi-Dry Riesling, a citrusy white, are standouts within the wine-loving community. They’re also top picks for award committees, which have given Milea more than a little recognition in recent years. The pinot noir, chardonnay, and Late Harvest Vignoles took home medals during the Hudson Valley Wine & Spirits Competition, while the Papa Joe Merlot earned a bronze medal at the New York Wine Classic in 2019. And that’s just the start of it; Milea’s website has a full list of accolades online.
Yet wine is only part of the story for the Staatsburg vineyard, which also grows apples for its four varieties of cider. On the drier side, its two styles of The Jumper, named in ode to the Hudson Valley’s equestrian community, hit the spot. The Staatsburg, meanwhile, is a clean, straightforward sip that won double gold at the Hudson Valley Wine & Food Fest in 2019. Last but not least, the Wild Goose Bourbon Barrel Aged Hard Cider is a showstopper with nuanced flavor from aging in Hillrock bourbon barrels.
Is your mouth watering? That probably means it’s time for a jaunt to the winery (or a click over to its website) for a sampling of the wares. When open to the public, Milea’s tasting room is just the place to do it. With an airy design that’s just as welcoming as it is photogenic, the space welcomes wine lovers for tastings throughout the year, something it hopes to recommence once the coronavirus pandemic subsides. During the warmer months, the winery opens its panoramic patio and offers tours of the grounds as well. It keeps the focus on its wines and ciders, although it does feature a curated selection of cheeses and snacks from local producers at its store next to the tasting room.
According to Ryan, tastings and visits are just the start of the experience at Milea. Throughout the year, he looks forward to welcoming guests for holiday celebrations and the occasional wedding. Milea Estate Vineyard is just the right size for intimate weddings (think 100 guests or fewer), sit-down dinners, and baby showers. Ryan is also excited about the gin, which isn’t available just yet, but will be soon. It’s just about finished at the off-site distillery and will be a light pink, blush-style drink when complete.
As for himself, he’s all about the Bourbon Barrel cider and the top-tier Riesling.
“It’s a more complex white wine,” he says of the latter. “It’s very good, very different.”
Ready for a sip from Staatsburg?
Milea Estate Vineyard
450 Hollow Rd, Staatsburg