A lot of people love October, especially those who are lucky enough to call the Hudson Valley home. And for good reason. The summer heat has moved on, Mother Nature is prancing and preening — showing off her glorious fall foliage — we’re still a couple of months away from the brutal blizzard season, and Halloween looms as a fun (if slightly fattening) and relatively stress-free holiday.
But around here, October also means something else. It’s the Best of Hudson Valley season. This is our 29th annual Best of Hudson Valley issue. (Not to be confused with the magazine, which is 43 years young now!) Yes, for almost three decades, we’ve been highlighting the very best in dining, shopping, recreation, spas, people, and places that make the Valley such a one-of-a-kind place to live and visit.
Of course, things have changed a lot since the first list premiered in 1986. Back then, the magazine ran four black-and-white pages announcing the winners in 22 different categories in the first readers’ poll. Some places we wrote about then are long gone. That year, for instance, our readers voted the Hyde Park Festival Theater as the best theater; we applauded the new management, which was bringing in stars like Stockard Channing. (Unfortunately, the theater burned down in a spectacular fire several months later.) Alternately, some things have stood the test of time: That year, Adams Fairacre Farms won for best produce, and the gourmet food shop continues to win multiple Readers’ Picks to this day.
Still, one thing that we do differently now is that we no longer write up a description for the Readers’ Picks; we simply list them. But that doesn’t mean that we think these picks are any less important. Many of the places that our readers vote as the best in the Valley are beloved institutions that we think highly of, too. So, I asked various members of our staff to weigh in on some of this year’s Readers’ Picks. Here’s what they had to say:
Account Executive Courtney Larkin on Millbrook Vineyards & Winery (Best Winery): “It’s simply the best way to spend a fall afternoon with friends, enjoying the great wine and the beautiful scenery.”
Account Executive Douglas Anderson on Kingston’s Armadillo Bar & Grill (Best Margarita): “The Fresh Ginger Margarita is fantastic here!”
Assistant Editor Jillian Phipps on Grappa (Best Orange County Restaurant): “My mom is first-generation Italian, and, even with her picky Italian-cuisine palate, she gives Grappa her seal of approval. Recently, I had snails for the very first time there. ‘Amazing’ is the word that comes to mind, and the olive oil paired with grilled zucchini is sublime for dipping the warm bread.” Account Executive Laura Giantonio frequents the eatery as well for romantic date nights with her husband.
I hope you enjoy the issue and learn about some great new places. But you don’t have take our word for it. Come see how wonderful our winners are by joining us at our annual Best of Hudson Valley Party on Thursday, October 15, at the Poughkeepsie Grand Hotel. You can chow down on loads of delicious food; sip and sample local wines, beers, whiskeys, and ciders; dance to the sounds of some great bands; and contemplate how lucky we are to live in such a fabulous region. See you there!
Olivia J. Abel