The last time I went on a wine tour on the east coast was out to Northfork Long Island and the best part of the experience was the scenic drive and just getting some familiarity with LI. The wines were average at best and those that I thought were good, turned out to be sour as my taste had blurred throughout the day.
This past weekend some friends organized another wine tour, this time upstate NY to some of this countries oldest and newest wineries. We started out with taking the Metro North to Salisbury Mills station near Washingtonville, NY. We had a limo service pick us up in a party bus and take us to the first spot on the tour: Brotherhood Winery.
It just happens that this past weekend Brotherhood had their 10th Annual Grape Harvest Festival which included food, craft merchants, bands and long lines at the tasting counters. We were only able to taste one selection of their wines and because of the crowds we were offered a spit of a taste from a small jello shot cup. Smelling the sausage w onions and peppers stand as we walked in, I knew I’d be devouring one of those savory links but we also shared in some of the best food of the festival from the Reggae Boy Cafe with jerk chicken and oxtail soup (check them out in Poughkeepsie, NY).
It was here I realized I wasn’t in “Kansas” anymore as I was surrounded by families, kids and even dogs draped in “Palin Country” and “McCain 08” gear, some of it even ripped up from their front lawns. A few sharp hells of hate against Obama further disturbed me but we weren’t here to canvas but to take in what good, was offered from these upstate wineries. Ultimately I did not like any of the Brotherhood wines that I tasted but I’m sure there’s some gems in there, I never got the opportunity to get there.
Back in the bus with some carnival sweets, we headed to Glorie Farm Winery, located up on a ridge overlooking the valley. A great view for a very small tasting “shack”. Glorie offered a few key wines that I would have bought and locally grown apples as well. It was $5 to taste 5. Of the ones offered, the Seyval Blanc Estate Reserve, Glorie De Chaunac Oak and the Cabernet Franc was a close third.
With a few bottles down, some scenic pics in the memory card, back on the bus we crammed to head to Stoutridge Winery just down the road. The property is the largest of the four wineries we saw and the newest as it has been rebuilt in 2001 from a vandal’s fire. We met Stephen Osborn and Kimberly Wagner, the owners of the winery and received more than our share of lecture before tasting on the gravity-flow winery that uses minimalist winemaking techniques. I think Stephen over sold his wines in the lecture and they just didn’t live up to the description; I would have preferred letting the wine speak for themselves with a follow up on the detail.
I didn’t have any favorite wines at Stoutridge but I did like their hard pair cider so it’s good to see that they are branching out into other areas that could work for them. I would have spent some time on their patio drinking other wines but as we were on Tim’s schedule we needed to make it to the last winery for a taste and get back to the station for our ride home.
We took a drive this time up another ridge to Benmarl Winery which is self proclaimed America’s Oldest Winery where Andrew Jackson Caywood first planted and bottled wine in the Hudson river valley. Now Marlboro, NY, Benmarl is the most romantic of the 4 wineries we visited, located up on the ridge with a beautiful grassy knowel for enjoying the wines or the blues that’s typically played through the summer.
We enjoyed our time at Benmarl so much we blew off the train tickets, bought a case of wine and started popping corks! Over all a fantastic trip up north bearing more fruit than my Northfork excursion. I’d recommend this trip over the long island one any day and was a much more enjoyable drive around the valley.