Millbrook Vineyards and Winery Appoints New Head Winemaker

The Dutchess County winery honors the legacy of the vineyard’s first winemaker and celebrates the appointment of a new expert to the coveted role.

A mainstay of the Hudson Valley wine trail for over four decades, Millbrook Vineyards and Winery was founded on principles of innovation and experimentation. Established in 1982 on a former dairy farm, the winery has since been committed to producing a range of high-quality wines using traditional processes. Recently, the winery appointed Ian Bearup to take on the coveted role of head winemaker at the vineyard, succeeding John Graziano, who filled the position since Millbrook Winery’s inception.

Graziano, who served as head winemaker at the vineyard for 40 years, announced his retirement earlier this month. He led the craft of developing the large variety of grapes and wines grown and served onsite into what it is today, including making the winery the first in the Hudson River region that is dedicated exclusively to the production of vinifera grapes. Leaving his legacy and impact on Millbrook Winery, Graziano has long shared his knowledge and love of wine with others, most notably with incoming head winemaker Bearup.

Photo courtesy of Millbrook Vineyards & Winery

As he waves farewell to his illustrious career, Graziano notes, “I enjoyed many interesting and dynamic years establishing Millbrook as a consistent, quality wine producer. I am looking forward to the bright future with our new winemaking team led by Ian Bearup.”

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Bearup’s appointment comes at an exciting time for the winery as it continues to expand its portfolio and enhance its reputation as one of the premier, award-winning wineries in all of New York State.

“I cannot express enough our deepest gratitude to John for his years of dedication and invaluable contributions to Millbrook Winery,” says David Bova, general manager and vice president of Millbrook Vineyards and Winery. “Ian’s passion for the art of winemaking, dedication to the craft, and expertise in the process perfectly align with our values as a winery. We have full confidence and are excited for him to continue to produce exceptional wines that showcase the unique range of winemaking in the Hudson Valley and build on the foundation laid by John.”

millbrook winemaker
Head winemaker Ian Bearup. Photo courtesy of Jim Henkens

As for Bearup, he has held a professional winery career for nearly two decades, getting his start at wineries across California, Oregon, and New Zealand. In each of his roles, Bearup has had first-hand experience in every step of the winemaking process, from harvesting grapes for wine varieties like merlot, zinfandel, pinot noir, and chardonnay to sampling and overseeing ripening lab analyses and nutrient additions to barrels to fine-tune blends and create expertly crafted bottles.

Previously, Bearup served as an assistant and associate winemaker with Balletto Vineyards in Santa Rosa, California since 2013. There, he worked berry-to-bottle with the family-owned brand, with a special focus on pinot noir and chardonnay varieties. At Balletto Vineyards, Bearup also served as a brand ambassador, hosting winemaker dinners and attending trade shows and sales events.

Photo courtesy of Millbrook Vineyards & Winery

After moving to the East Coast in 2021 with his family, Bearup joined the winemaking team at Millbrook Winery and quickly proved his unmatched expertise among the staff and guests at the vineyard. Today, he leads the production of over 12,000 cases of Millbrook wine annually and oversees the 30 acres of vineyards on the property, including plantings of grapes for pinot noir, chardonnay, cabernet Franc, Tocai Friulano, Riesling, and more.

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“Millbrook Winery has a rich history in the Hudson Valley, and I’m excited to be a part of its continued success,” says Bearup. “The wine industry in New York State and, more specifically, in this region are pushing the boundaries of what can be achieved in cooler climates, and I look forward to producing wines that reflect the winery’s distinct character and the unique terroir of our vineyards.”

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