The very first winery I went to was in Napa Valley. It was the summer that I turned 21 and my mother and I trekked out to California to visit my older sister, who was studying at Berkeley. I don’t remember the name of the winery, or how we got there, but I recall being titillated that I could legally imbibe with my mother — and being completely enamored with the beautiful vineyards.
I moved to the Hudson Valley a decade ago, but it took several years for me to visit my first local vineyard; I was instantly smitten all over again. Of course, by this point I knew a little bit more about wine, but the tour fascinated me, the tasting of six different wines was fun and informative, and walking around the beautiful grounds with several friends made me truly appreciate the picturesque region I had chosen to call home. Friends who come to visit from New York City often express a desire to go to a vineyard. And no wonder: Visiting a vineyard is a quintessential Hudson Valley experience. It’s not just the wine, although the quality of the local vino has improved drastically in recent years and I’m of the belief that drinking good wine with loved ones is one of life’s greatest pleasures. No, it’s more than the wine; it’s learning something new, seeing where the grapes are grown, meeting the vintners, experiencing the sense of community and history (this is the oldest grape-growing region in the country), and simply spending an amazing day in the country.
In recent years, many of our more than two dozen wineries have added events ranging from grape-stomping to pig roasts, musical entertainment, and sangria festivals, so there’s truly something for everyone. Heck, some of the vineyards even welcome your well-behaved pooches. Our comprehensive cover story will help you plan your next visit; it starts here.
Speaking of quintessential Hudson Valley experiences, how many of you have ever wondered about that crumbling castle perched on an island in the middle of the Hudson just south of Beacon? Well, this summer is the ideal time to stop ruminating — and start planning your visit. That’s because the island (officially named Pollepel) will be the home of lots of hoopla this year. The biggest draw is the opening of a major public art exhibit by Beacon Artist Melissa McGill. The highlight of “Constellation” is that every evening as the sun goes down, starry lights will emerge one by one. In addition, the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Company will be performing on the island this year, and Storm King Adventure Tours will be hosting many kayak trips — including evening ones complete with headlights — to the mysterious island. We’ll be speaking with McGill in our August issue and will fill you in on all the fun with our special online series, Bannerman’s Big Year.
Enjoy the issue.
Olivia J. Abel