Nestled atop a scenic hillside in Marlboro, Benmarl Winery is a hidden treasure for wine lovers in the Hudson Valley. Its 37-acre estate lays claim to the oldest continuously operating vineyard in America and boasts breathtaking views of the Hudson River landscape below it. With roots that date back to the 1700s and a location just 70 miles north of New York City, the winery is a true destination for unrivaled wines made entirely from New York State grapes.
As home to the oldest continuously producing vineyard in the United States and holder of New York Farm Winery license number one, Benmarl Winery traces its origins back to the 1700s when the Huguenots first settled in the Hudson Valley. Experimental horticulturist Andrew Caywood was responsible for many of the plantings on the grounds in the 1800s, and his work provided the foundation upon which the winery now operates. Today, proprietor Victor Spaccarelli, Jr. is only the fourth owner to lay claim to the vineyard. Along with his son, Matthew, the winemaker at Benmarl, Spaccarelli revived the existing vines and planted new varieties beginning in 2007.
“A good glass of wine starts in the vineyard,” Spaccarelli notes. “The property here is very conducive to growing grapes.”
With a commitment to use only grapes grown in New York State, Benmarl Winery puts local first in all it does. Many of its grapes are grown onsite in Marlboro, with additional varieties coming from the Finger Lakes and Long Island. Its signature Baco Noir is an entirely estate-grown wine that’s beloved for its bright Bing cherry and thyme notes. It rests closely as a favorite alongside the Cabernet Franc (Estate), a lighter 2018 vintage with alluring notes of cedar and sweet tobacco.
While Benmarl’s reds are beloved year-round, its uniquely dry rosé is a showstopper during the summer months. With a soft acidity and hints of cranberry and strawberries and cream, it’s just the thing for sipping on Benmarl’s panoramic outdoor patio. For those who prefer whites, meanwhile, the estate-grown Seyval Blanc is wonderfully delicate and drinkable, with lingering profiles of chamomile, green apple, and lemon blossom. Also delightful is the Stainless Steel Chardonnay, which is notable for its soft acidity and subtle flavor of crisp apple and papaya.
To best experience the beauty of Benmarl Winery, there’s nothing like a visit to the property itself. After passing the winding Baco noir vines during a slow amble down the driveway, visitors can make their way to one of the tables outside for a glass of wine or, better yet, a tasting flight of four wines. Benmarl requests reservations in advance, with seatings available in 75-minute intervals for groups of six or fewer.
Once seated, guests can sip and sample while learning more about each vintage from Benmarl’s knowledgeable servers. During the weekends, the winery fires up the wood-fired pizza oven that Spaccarelli built back in 2014. The pizza, which Spaccarelli often makes himself, is artisanal and topped with everything from thin slivers of prosciutto to savory mushrooms and cheese.
Thanks to Benmarl’s unparalleled hilltop location in Ulster County, it’s a dream destination for oenophiles who crave a weekend escape in the beautiful heart of the Hudson Valley. No trip to the winery is complete without a photo or two under Benmarl’s wooden arbor, which sits primely in front of the breathtaking landscape beyond.
“It’s hard to explain the beauty of the property,” Spaccarelli admits. “People leave here with the same sense of serenity, awe, and calmness. There’s just something about it.”
With exceptional wines available to taste and take home, plus a dedicated wine club for aficionados, Benmarl is a paradise for wine lovers in the Hudson Valley and beyond. As Spaccarelli points out, it has a je ne sais quoi that can only be fully understood during a trip to the winery itself. It’s only then that visitors can get a little a little lost in the best way as they let the minutes fade and the beauty of the region surround them.
“It’s an experience,” Spaccarelli enthuses. “If you are interested in wine, if you are interested in nature and beauty and in being in a relaxing environment, then Benmarl is the place to come. Once you come, you’ll be back again.”
156 Highland Ave, Marlboro
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