As a restaurant owner and wine lover I often get asked what is the best Hudson Valley Winery. To be honest with you, That's a tough question. There are lots of factors that go into deserving the title of best. And let's face it, it's totally subjective. But while we're on the topic let's jump in...
The Hudson Valley region of New York State is home to around 70 wineries. Our claim to fame is that we have the country's oldest vineyard and oldest winery Right here in the Hudson Valley. Ben Marl in Marlboro holds the title of the oldest vineyard. A vineyard is the land that grows the grapes. Then, Brotherhood Winery holds the title of the oldest winery. And yes a winery is the place that actually crushes, ferments, ages, and bottles wine. Brotherhood is located in Washingtonville, New York. You can actually visit both of these wineries on the same day. They are just 20 minutes from each other in the mid-Hudson Valley near Newburgh.
If it was Prohibition and you were asking the same question, what's the best Hudson Valley Winery? The answer would be simple. It would be Brotherhood. Because they were the only winery operating during prohibition. The Catholic Church was exempt from prohibition laws. Which led Brotherhood winery to have the Catholic church contract during this time.
Let's face it you don't go to church for high-quality wine. Let's look at the current winery situation in the Hudson valley nearly 100 years later. Currently, the Hudson Valley grows around 35 different grape varietals. This automatically gives us 35 different wines being produced locally. But each wine will be expressed differently by the winemaker. Many factors can determine the expression of the grape varietal. This could be when the grape was harvested, the length of fermentation, the amount of skin contact, the yeast, and the aging process of the wine. The aging process can include the amount of time spent in stainless steel, oak barrels (if used at all), the age of the oak barrels, and/or bottle aging. And don't forget many grapes can make white, rose and red wine. A great example of this is Pinot Noir. The Pinot Noir grape can be used to make a white sparkling wine, a rose wine, and of course the common red version. That's 3 totally different wines from one grape before we start considering the winemaker's personal touches.
I think you know what I'm getting at here. You probably haven't tasted all the wine offerings from the Hudson Valley. I would say that I haven't either.
The bigger question is who's to dictate our personal choices in wine? This is where picking the best Hudson Valley Wine gets fun. To name one wine as the best in the Hudson Valley is impossible. Sure a particular wine can get an award, a great rating from Wine Spectator, Wine Advocate, or Robert Parker. Or Maybe Gary Vaynerchuck threw a great rating out there once on his famous Wine Library TV show.
It all comes down to how you like it. But let's talk more about the moment of enjoyment.
The true enjoyment of wine comes from the cumulation of appreciation at that moment. It's possible to have the same wine twice and have two totally different opinions on it.
This can be due to many factors, the glass itself. Certain shaped glasses open or hide aromas. The temperature of the wine. Who you are with. The food you are eating or not eating with the wine totally turns the tides. And even the location of the consumption.
Let's focus on the location. After all, we are in the picturesque Hudson Valley.
My recommendation to get the best out of the wine tasting experience is to visit the winery. Almost every winery in the Hudson has some sort of official tasting room. Because the majority of the wineries are small family run operations you'll have a chance to meet either the owner or the winemaker. And in many cases that would be the same person. Now add to that the view. Picture yourself sitting on a vineyard with a great view of the Shawangunk mountains or overlooking the Hudson River. It can be a spring day where the buds are breaking on the vines. Or it could be an early fall day with the grapes sitting on the vine with full ripeness waiting for the harvest. Tasting wine in this environment will give you a different appreciation for the wine. And these are memories that you will hold onto every time you take a sip of that wine no matter where you're drinking it. Even if you stumbled across that same bottle in the famous Napa Valley wine region, Tuscany or a beach bar in Florida it will evoke a memory.
Finding the best Hudson Valley may take a bit of work. But most people are up for the challenge of winery and vineyard tours to sample wine. Our car service can help you tour the Hudson Valley vineyards!
Now here is where it gets fun! More and more wineries have food menus and some a full restaurant like Magnanini Winery. Lots of wineries like Bashakill Winery, Palaia and Robibero have live entertainment like music. Ben Marl has great views of the Hudson River and Whitecliff looks up at Minnewaska State Park & Mohonk Preserve. Clearview Vineyard will take you to the top of the mountain in the Black Dirt area of Orange County. Many have great festivals like Millbrook Winery. Check out Glorie Farm Winery far more than wine. They are a full out farm.
How about if your group isn't into wine. Yes, let's not hold that against them. Places like Applewood have wine and cider. Stoutridge will have natural wine and dozens of spirits. And don't forget the famous fruit wines from Baldwin.
Basically the search for the best Hudson Valley Wine is a lot of fun. It will take you on a journey from Westchester County to Albany on both sides of the Hudson River. It will take you two beautiful farm houses, barns, a garage, inconspicuous buildings of all sorts, warehouses and wherever else a winemaker is living out their passion. And if you want a crash course on Hudson Valley wine tasting then make sure you make it to the Hudson Valley Wine & Food Festival. This is a 20 plus year old festival in Rhinebeck NY. You can taste all the wine you could handle in a weekend and buy bottles to take home.
And the best part is you get to repeat this process every year! Every year is a different vintage! Cheers and here’s to finding your best Hudson Valley Wine!