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The Hudson River Valley is one of the most scenic areas in the country. It is also home to lovely, rural wineries that are making distinctive, quality wines. This trip will give you the opportunity to both taste the wines and enjoy the charming countryside.
In 1982, the Hudson River Valley was designated as an AVA (American Viticultural Area). The Valley is the oldest commercial grape-growing region in the United States. The first commercial wine vintage took place in 1829 at what is now the Brotherhood winery. Today, there are 28 wineries, 7 on the east side of the Hudson River and 21 on the west side. They cultivate 500 acres of vineyards, planted principally with red and white European varieties and French American hybrids.
Unlike Long Island and the Finger Lakes, or Bordeaux for that matter, the Hudson Valley’s cool climate is not moderated by the presence of ocean waters or a lake. Nevertheless, the Valley is affected by maritime air and weather traveling up the Valley from the Atlantic and, to a lesser degree, by the moderating effects of the Hudson River. The soil contains shale, slate, shist, and limestone, deposited by the glaciers that once covered the region.
It was not until the 1970’s that vitis vinifera grapes, the European varieties that we all drink, were planted commercially. Up until then the wineries grew principally native American and hybrid grape varieties. It was thought that the European varieties could not withstand the cold New York winters.
In 1979 Millbrook Vineyard became the first vineyard in the Hudson Valley to concentrate exclusively on producing European varieties, specifically Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, and Pinot Noir. John Dyson, the owner, consulted with his renowned New York neighbor, Dr. Konstantin Frank, about how he was able to grow successfully Riesling and other European varieties in New York’s Finger Lakes AVA. He undertook several viticultural experiments using different varieties, rootstocks and trellising techniques which proved that vinifera vines could be grown successfully in the Hudson Valley. Millbrook remains the Valley’s leading producer of European varietials.
One of Millbrook’s vineyards was planted on the land of a dairy farm that was going out of business. Not unlike what has happened on Long Island, vineyard expansion in the Hudson Valley has helped preserve the Valley’s rural, farm environment from suburban sprawl.
Much of the Hudson Valley remains planted with hybrid grape varieties. There are outstanding hybrid wines, one of which, the Seyval Blanc variety, can be tasted at Clinton Vineyards. Described in one book as “...a tiny jewel in the vast New York wine industry,” Clinton Vineyards is known as the Valley’s best producer of Seyval Blanc. It has other claims to fame – it is the only American producer of Cassis, a black currant liqueur, which received a gold medal at the 2004 Los Angeles Wine Competition. It is also the only Hudson Valley vineyard producing Sparkling Wine.....and you know what Cassis and Sparkling Wine add up to – right, a Kir Royale!
You do not have to go to France for this famous drink or for classic red and white wines. All you need to do is head toward the Hudson Valley.. with Grape Getaways!
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