Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Stoutridge Winery Marlboro, NY

Our third winery visit along the Shawangunk Wine Trail was Stoutridge Vineyards and Winery in Ulster County's Marlboro, NY. Stoutridge is a member of the Shawangunk Wine Trail as well as the Meet Me in Marlborough Farm Trail.

The farmhouse at Stoutridge Vineyard dates back to the mid-1800s and was built by pioneering Italian immigrants. Sometime around the American Civil War, the farm became a part of the historic 80+ acre McCourt fruit farm. In 1895, Hannah McCourt sold off a 14-acre parcel to Moses McMullen, the majority of what is now Stoutridge Vineyard. 

Moses farmed the land for seven years until he, in turn, sold it to Vincenzo Marino in 1902. Vincenzo converted his barn into a winery and began producing wine commercially, doing so until his death in 1919. Prohibition was ratified later that spring and the Vincenzo’s eventually lost the farm.

In 1923, the farm was purchased by Joseph Noto of Miami, Florida. He immediately dismantled Marono’s winery and built a pig barn and automobile garage. He and his family farmed the fruit orchards and grapevines until his death in 1944. To this day people in Marlboro refer to the land as "The old Noto Farm."

In 1945 Joseph Olivo bought the farm and sold it in 1952 to Philippa Turrigiano who used the farmhouse as a consolidation warehouse for illegal brandy production, a popular activity on farms throughout Marlboro at the time. Philippa was arrested by federal agents in 1956 and the land was confiscated and sold at government auction to Dominic Pagnotta II.

Dominic and his family kept up the fruit trees and grapevines until his death in 1969. (Dominic III became a teacher and used the land for hunting and as a training ground for pistol and rifle use with the New York State Hunter Safety Program. In 2006 at age 70, Dominic became the champion of the Amateur Trap Shooting Association’s annual event, "The Empire Grand American.")

Stoutridge is Born. The century-old farmhouse was burned down by vandals in 1988 although the foundation remained intact. The current owners of Stoutridge Vineyards, Stephen Osborn and Kimberly Wagner, bought the farm from Dominic and JoAnn Pagnotta in 2001. They set about the restoration of the farmhouse, vineyards, and the old Marono Winery. 

In restoring this property, Stoutridge took great care to plant native trees and shrubs. Over 100 trees have been planted on the property since 2008. They even utilized recycled materials for the driveways and roadways, constructing them with recycled NY highway tailings — the part of the road that gets scraped up before a new blacktop is applied. 

Today, Stoutridge Vineyard exemplifies natural winemaking and environmentally responsible operations. 

In addition to the winery, since 2017, the property is also a working distillery. Stoutridge is outfitted with two five plate Christian Carl Stills and an impressive 30 plate pot still for vodka production.

One of the most unique aspects of Stoutridge is their malting and kilning floors, one of only eight distilleries in America to do its own malting and the only US distillery with a kilning floor.

Ninety percent of Stoutridge wines are produced from grapes sourced from local vineyards. Using local grapes reduces the amount of fuel used for transportation to the crush pad. One of the goals at Stoutridge is to capture the local flavor. Many of the wines are farm-centric, wine bottled 100% from the vines of Hudson Valley farms to capture regional and local authenticity.

Stoutridge focus on natural winemaking with fermentation being the sole processing step believing their wines retain more of the balance, flavor and complexity found in nature. Careful control over fermentation is key to making wines with no chemical intervention  with fermentation conditions maximized for the natural effects desired.

Stoutridge have a barrel room that houses large barrels that can hold up to 700 gallons, and smaller barrels that can hold 375 gallons. The barrels are made from Hungarian oak which is quite similar to French oak, but at a significantly lower cost. They estimate their barrels lasting over 100 years, which is considered sustainable since a new oak forest can be grown to harvest wood to replace the barrel. 

Stoutridge strive to make wines that reflect the flavor of the grape and vineyard. Their Hungarian oak barrels are perfect because they do not impart any oak flavor to the wines. Their winemaking techniques are focused entirely on making the best wine for our region of the Hudson Valley with no need or desire for speed, but rather as nature intended. Stoutridge avoid, pumping, filtering and fining processes that speed up winemaking striving for the most natural produce. 

Kimberly Wagner, co-proprietor served us in the tasting room and explained their emphasis on natural wine production resulting in natural wines that are un-like traditional wines we typically encounter.

She exclaimed they may taste like cider or even have tones of beer in some cases, and that many that would otherwise prefer red wines may lean towards their whites, and vice versa. So, we were warned, and somewhat inquisitive as we dove into tasting our flight of wines. 

The tasting notes provided with the wine samples stated: "Our award winning wines are processed without pumps or filters and without the addition of any chemicals(including sulfites). The wines are made on-site from local grapes and are unfiltered or unfined (so cloudiness and sediment is normal). When you pour the samples into the glass, notice they smeill different than they taste!"

I inquired about how much of the wines are 'estate', meaning they are produced from proprietor grown grapes, asking many acres were under vines and producing grapes that are used in their wines. She intimated that many of their twenty acres are being replanted due to an infestation of an invasive Chinese louse akin to the stink-bug that attacks and saps the energy from the stems. Hence only two acres were currently producing grapes for wine. The rest of the wines are crafted from grapes sourced from growers throughout the Hudson River Valley.  

The wine flight was packaged with a couple of branded wine glasses, tasting notes and some promo materials. 

We tasted our wines on the patio in front of the estate chateau.

Stoutridge Winery Ridge White

Winemaker notes: Fresh vibrant wine with the unmistakable fruitiness of American native grapes and the soft smooth finish of European varietals. A great wine for lunch and light dinners that will remind you of our Hudson Valley vineyards. Best served ice cold. Unfiltered and unfined.

The day's tasting notes specified a 50:50 blend while the current bottle on offer specifies 60% Seyval and 40%g Niagra grapes in the blend. 

Tasting notes indicate this won the following awards:

  • Finger Lakes Intl. Wine Comp. Bronze
  • NY Wine & Food Classic Silver
  • Finger Lakes Intl. Wine Comp. Silver Finger Lakes Intl. Wine Comp. Silver

RM 84 points.

Stoutridge Winery Seyval / Riesling 2016

Winemaker notes: "Refreshing crisp wine with flavors of fresh cut lemon and grapefruit. It is medium bodied and bone dry with vivacious acidity and inviting finish. Great with fresh chees or pairs perfectly with any seafood or shelfish. This is a blend of 60% Seyval and 40% Riesling. 

RM 85 points.

Stoutridge Winery Ridge Rose 2008

Winemaker notes: "The Ridge designation is one that the winemaker uses on the most artistic creations out of the cellar. This dry wine has powerful aromas but also is nuanced and subtle. Deep smoky and nutty flavors wrapped around a plum and black cherry core of ripe fruit. Astoundingly good wine with hard cheeses and fresh fruit. Decant 30 minutes for best flavor. Unfiltered and unfined."

Atributed to NY Wine: 85% Lemberger, 10% Chancellor, and 5% Noiret

RM 85 points.

Stoutridge Winery Merlot 2010

Producer Notes: "This wine has outstanding vibrancy as well as the notable silkiness which makes the Merlot grape so prized. Of all of our wines, this one tastes most like the vineyard. From top-quality Long Island fruit. Pairs well with veal, chicken, and game birds. Or a wonderful sipping wine without a dry tannic edge. Unfiltered and unfined."

100% Merlot

Awards cited: 
  • Finger Lakes Intl. Wine Comp. Bronze
  • NY Wine & Food Classic Bronze

Stoutridge Winery Merlot-Frontenac 2010

Producer Notes: "Very complete flavor profile from the deepest, richest purple fruits on the Frontenac side to the bright red zestiness of the Merlot side. Fermentation comes through with a savoriness that finishes the wine and makes it very food-friendly. Nothing heavy or jammy here. The 14.4 alcohol is completely buried in the fruit and the wine remains cool and juicy. Unfiltered and unfined."

Award cited: Finger Lakes Intl. Wine Comp. Bronze

RM 86 points. 

Benmarl Vineyards, Marlborough-on-Hudson

Benmarl Vineyards, Marlborough-on-Hudson

Our Hudson River Valley wine experience included a visit to Benmarl Vineyards, the oldest vineyard in America, boasting New York Farm Winery license no.1. Nestled in the lush green hills of the western riverbank of the Hudson River in the village of Marlboro sits the historic Benmarl Winery's 37 acre estate, vineyards, and hospitality center tasting rooms, deck and lawn.

Benmarl produce small batch wines that capture the unique character of each vineyard from which they are sourced. They have tripled estate production in the past six years showing faith and commitment to the wines that the Hudson River Region can produce. 


The 37 acre estate overlooking the historic Hudson River Valley has the "Oldest Vineyard in America,”  the winery and cellars, and a hospitality center with tasting rooms indoors, on the deck and lawn overlooking the vineyards and the river valley. Just off the main Route 9 along the west bank of the Hudson, they are set up for large bustling crowds on weekends with ample parking, multiple tastings settings and a well oiled process for service.

The Benmarl portfolio consists of eighteen different labels on offer by the bottle, they produces two dry wines, an Estate Red and Estate White, several specialty wines and a sparkling Verdelet and Seyval Blanc blend. 

They provide a design your own tasting flight of four wines from the broad selection. We each selected a flight of four wines to our liking from the menu that offered 2 sparkling, five whites, six reds and three sweets. 

I will typically ask a producer what they consider their signature wine, their best representation of their terroir and artcraft. The Benmarl server cited the Estate grown Baco Noir, sourced from sixty year old vines, as one of their signature labels.

Benmarl Winery New York Baco Noir 2019

I selected their featured 2019 Baco Noir vintage release that is supposed to be from estate sixty year old vines, however they admitted most of the vines have been or are being replanted in the vineyard adjacent the tasting deck as shown in these photos. 

Dark blackish garnet colored, medium-full bodied, black berry fruits were overtaken by notes of charcoal, smoke, leather and dust with some spice tones. 

RM 86 points. 



Benmarl Winery New York Proprietor's Reserve 2019

Dark garnet colored, medium full bodied, black berry fruits offset by notes of smoke, tobacco, some dark mocha chocolate and some spice on a moderate finish. Not as balanced or integrated as it might be, perhaps it will become moreso with some bottle aging, noting its youth. 

RM 87 points. 



Benmarl Winery New York North Fork Long Island Syrah 2020

Being huge fans of Syrah, we were hoping this would be notable but it did not meet our lofty expectations, but then we appropriately recalibrated for New York wines rather than compare to the California, Rhone and Aussie Syrahs we're so accustomed to drinking. 

Dark ruby colored, medium-full bodied, black berry fruits are accented by black cherry, herbs and smoke with a moderate finish. 

RM 86 points. 



Benmarl Winery New York Cabernet Franc 2019

This is what I here-to-fore would consider the signature wine, or the benchmark wine for New York, having found it to be 'best of' in our tastings on Long Island and the Finger Lakes region. So it was that it was probably a standard bearer and met expectations accordingly. 

Dark garnet colored, medium full bodied, slightly more complex black berry fruits with notes of pepper, spice with hints of vanilla and a layer of cedar on the finish. 

RM 87 points.   



Benmarl Winery New York Slate Hill Red Wine 2019

This is a Bordeaux Blend made from Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon, all sourced in New York State. 

Dark garnet colored, medium-bodied blackberry with notes of cassis, leather and a touch of oak and moderate tannins on the finish. 

RM 87 points. 



Benmarl Winery New York Malbec, Petit Verdot, Riesling, Petillant 2019

An interesting blend of a couple of Bordeaux varietals, a German / Washington State / New York varietal and a unique New York grape. The diversity of the grapes resulted in a bit of a cacophony of flavors, lacking seamless integration or elegance, or depth and breadth of a blend. Perhaps several years of bottle aging may transform this into a more harmonious sipper. Clearly a blend unique to this producer or region. 

Garnet colored, medium bodied, black berry, black raspberry fruits with notes of tobacco, cherry sprites, spice and tangy acidity. 

RM 86 points. 

Visit the Benmarl Vineyards website.

Monday, August 30, 2021

Henry's at the Farm Fine Dining at Buttermilk Falls Inn

Henry's at the Farm Fine Dining at Buttermilk Falls Inn & Spa in New York Hudson Valley

During our visit to the New York Hudson River Valley we dined at Henry's at the Farm, fine dining at the Buttermilk Falls Inn & Spa across the river, opposite Poughkeepsie, in the town of Milton, New York. 

Buttermilk Falls’ is an extraordinary historic 75 acre Hudson River estate that offers a remarkable selection of lodging at the The Inn which has been in existence since  the 1760's, a world class spa, a farm-to-table restaurant, an organic kitchen garden and orchard, trails and an animal rescue sanctuary. 

The 1764 Main House offers ten beautifully appointed rooms plus there are eight unique private cottages/guest houses. 

Henry’s at the Farm adjoins the 40 acre Millstone Farm where fresh produce, eggs and honey source locavore farm to table selections. The restaurant is in a standalone building in the enclave, the dining room up a flight a stairs to the second floor, above the ground floor kitchen below.

Our selections of appetizers and entrees from the Daily Specials and dinner men  ....

Pan Seared Jumbo “Day Boat” Scallops - Hearts of Palm, Crushed Cashews, Brown Butter - We shared this appetizer course, this was to die for and was one of the highlights of the meal.

Shrimp Scampi - Another daily special, we shared this appetizer and it also was to die for, another highlight of the meal. Couldn't get enough bread to mop up the sauces of the appetizers!

Ceasar Salad - Overly creative, this was bordering on weird, basically was two stalks of hearts of Romaine lettuce with what seemed to a drizzle of thousand island dressing on each.

Beet and Goat Cheese Salad - Red, Golden, and Candy Cane Beets, Honey Chevre Cheese, Shaved Fennel, Spiced Pecans, Black Mission Fig - Somewhat minimalist, the portions were small leaving me want a bit more of each of the features.

Millstone Farm Summer Risotto - Zucchini, Yellow Squash, Eggplant, Spinach, Red Pepper, Cherry Tomatoes, Fried Zucchini Flowers. Linda's entree selection, the fried eggplant was a bit offsetting and the Zuchini Flower blossoms were disappointing - a huge setback from the remarkable comparative offering earlier in the week at Chez Francois in Vermillion, Ohio. 


Filet Mignon - 8oz. Filet, Foie Gras Butter, Buttermilk Blue Cheese Mash, Roasted Cippolini Onions, Asparagus, Tawny Port Glace. My entree selection, the steak was very good, albeit missing the 'char' of my Pittsburgh preparation request, (leaving me wondering if they knew what I was requesting), the Foie Gras butter and the Tawny Port Glace were delectable, highlights of the preparation accompaniments. The Buttermilk Blue Cheese overpowered the mashed potatoes, overwhelming, even for the most ardent cheese lover, which I thought I was, too much!

Ten Ounce New York Strip Steak from the daily special selections.   A daily special, Richard and Pat split this entree selection and it was excellent, a large portion sufficient for the two to share, prepared and presented perfectly.

From the basic rudimentary winelist, which offered the fundamental selections, at reasonable prices, we chose a moderately priced California Napa Cab.

Robert Sinskey POV - Point of View Napa Valley Carneros Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

To commemorate the three Bordeaux varietals in this blend, each vintage release features three different labels with Photography by producer Rob Sinskey. 

Producer photos of the three labels for 2015

This red Bordeaux Blend consists of estate grown Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon, although I could not find the percentages.

Grown in Robert Sinskey Vineyard’s organic cool-climate Carneros Vineyards, this wine has more in common with the Right Bank of the old world than the Left Bank of the New World. 

RSV’s Vandal Vineyard is in many ways like the Right Bank of Napa with a heat summation similar to Saint-Émilion. Conditions are right for Cabernet Franc and Merlot to thrive here with vibrant fruit that has just the right amount of mouth-watering acidity. This label combines in the blend, those two varieties and a touch of Cabernet Sauvignon to add backbone and longevity, and you have a wine that strikes a perfect balance of supple fruit and elegant structure. This is matured for two years in French oak barrels (30% new) before being bottled and "rested for another 2-3 years in the estate's cellars. 

Robert Sinskey Description: "Deep blackberry and blueberry fruit notes with fresh picked herbs, bramble and forest floor lead to an aromatic bouquet that is shy at first and opens with a swirl in the glass. The first sip explodes with flavor, revealing the intensity of optimally ripened fruit. The wine balances juicy red and black fruit like Santa Rosa plum, black cherry, black/blueberry, cassis and strawberry jam with baking spice nuances of star anise, cardamom and allspice and a touch of bay leaf and mocha. Tightly woven structure is balanced by mouth watering acidity and supple tannins..."

"Like striking a major chord, the three varieties of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, harmonize brilliantly - like they were always meant to be together. The wine opens with floral aromas of violet and rosemary, followed by a fruit stand of aromas and flavors reminiscent of blackberry, black plum, currant and black cherry. The primary fruit notes lead into more complex and earthier notes of black olive, sage, star anise, cocoa and a hint of vanilla that softens an otherwise youthful flavor profile."

Bright ruby colored, medium full bodied, bright vibrant black berry and hints of red berry fruits were accented by notes of cassis, all spice and cardamom and a hint of mocha on a tangy acidic finish. Ideal pairing complement to the beefsteaks.

RM 91 points.



https://twitter.com/rsvnapa - @rsvnapa


Whitecliff Vineyards New York Hudson Valley Shawganunk Wine Trail

Whitecliff Vineyards New York Hudson Valley Shawganunk Wine Trail

Visiting the Northeast for Son Alec's and Vivianna's vow renewal wedding festivities, we stayed over to tour the New York Hudson Valley and the regional AVA wine district. We planned some wine dinners and tastings at several select Wine Producers. 

We centered our activities and logistics in the town of Poughkeepsie, NY which proved to be ideal with proximity to a wide range of attractions and varied points of interest and the vineyards and wineries on the Duchess County and Shawangunk Wine Trails.

On the western region of the Hudson River Valley, opposite the town of Poughkeepsie is the Shawangunk Wine Trail,  home to 13 wineries nestled between the Shawangunk Mountains and the Hudson River, just 60 miles north of NYC. 

WhiteCliff Vineyards and Winery - Gardiner, New York 

Twenty miles northwest of Poughkeepsie, (near New Paltz) and just beyond the village of Gardiner, New York is Whitecliff Vineyards. One of the largest vineyards in the Hudson Valley, Whitecliff grow over 20 varieties of grapes planted on 70 acres of vineyards opposite and below the majestic Shawangunk Mountain. They are one of the most accomplished and awarded producers in the region.

The vineyards and lawns sit below the picturesque panarama vista of the white cliffs of the mountain overlooking the estate. It is one of nine wineries of the famed Shawangunk Wine Trail, following in the tradition of French Huguenot settlers who brought wine making to the scenic valley over three centuries ago. 

Whitecliff is working with European vinifera varietals such as Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc and Riesling, and quality hybrids like Seyval Blanc and Vignoles, including small plantings of Pinot Noir and Merlot. They are pioneering use of Gamay Noir grape in the Hudson Valley for a true Beaujolais-style Nouveau. 

The winery is named for the striking white cliffs that rise above and provide a panoramic backdrop to the vineyards.

From the Whitecliff website: Whitecliff is an artisanal family run winery created from the ground up by owners and founders, Michael Migliore and Yancey Stanforth-Migliore. Michael has lived on the property since 1975, when he was studying for a master’s degree in organic chemistry at SUNY, New Paltz. In 1978 he started work at IBM as a chemical engineer in semiconductor manufacturing, and soon after began experimenting with grape growing as a natural expression of his background and his skills in chemistry. 

Wine had figured prominently in his upbringing: his German and Italian grandfathers both made wine at home, and it was part of every family dinner. Today Michael works closely with Cornell Cooperative Extension testing new grape varieties, and pushing the envelope on the quality of grape growing in the region. In that capacity he also serves as president of the Hudson Valley Wine and Grape Association.

Yancey joined in the planting soon after they met—through rock climbing on the Shawangunk Ridge—and married in the early 80’s. While she doesn’t bring technical skills to the business like Michael, she has developed the ability to teach about wine that contributes to Whitecliff’s Tasting Room. 

Winemaker Brad Martz joined Whitecliff in the 2010 harvest as a volunteer and brought so much focus, energy, and intelligence to the cellar work that he rapidly progressed to full-time winemaker. In addition to hands on work with Michael he’s also invested many hours in learning and research with the Cornell Extension while at Whitecliff. 

Brad applies the careful science necessary to make fine wine, but also brings great creativity with grape varietals that results in our interesting and ever-evolving wine list.

Establishing the vineyard began in 1979 with years of trial and error to determine which varieties will produce good yields and quality wine, while withstanding the cold winters.

The rigorous approach of science and engineering, and determination, has provided the knowledge and the strong base necessary to create a successful vineyard and winery.

There is a quaint Visitors Center tasting room with a spectacular view of the Shawangunk white cliffs from the deck and lawns. 

They offer six different tasting flights of reds, whites, sweet wines, or their 'Best of' selection. 

We tried the "Best of Whitecliff" flight and the "Rich Reds" flight. We found their reds more impressive than the whites with the Petit Verdot, Bordeaux Blend and Merlot to be standouts in that order. 

Most of their wines feature grapes from producers across the region as well as estate grown fruit, hence they are labeled 'New York', or 'Hudson River Region' wines vs the appellation or estate designation. 

Highlights of our tasting ... 

Whitecliff Vineyards New York Petit Verdot 2014

Appropriately poured as the last tasting of this flight, this was the biggest, darkest and fullest wine. This was best of the flight with its fullness, roundness and full flavored fruit flavors and exceeded my expectations for a New York state wine. Sourced from growers throughout the State including some estate and regional fruits, at seven years of age it is most likely at its peak and will not improve with further aging.

This was dark garnet colored, medium bodied, nicely balanced, round blackberry and black raspberry fruits accented by notes of dark mocha chocolate, hints of tobacco leaf and spice on a moderate tannin laced finish.

RM 88 points.



Whitecliff Vineyards Sky Island New York Red Wine 2016

Like the Petit Verdot above, this was appropriately placed second to last in the tasting flight and was another over-achiever in my opinion. At five years, this has had the benefit of some bottle aging and may be at the apex of its drinking profile, not likely to improve further with more aging.

Producers tasting notes: A dry rich and complex blend of Cabernet Sauvignion, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec, and Petite Verdot, totally dry, rich tannins, bold apple, cherry notes and a strong finish. This label won Gold across 2 vintages at the SF Intl Wine Competition.

This is a blend of Bordeaux varietals, Cabernet Sauvignion, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec, and Petite Verdot. 

This was garnet colored, medium bodied, nicely balanced and well integrated black currant and black raspberry and cherry fruits with notes of spice, tobacco leaf, black tea, leather and cedar with moderate tannins on a tangy acidic finish. 

RM 87 points. 


Whitecliff Vineyards New York Merlot Malbec 2016

This is sourced from regional grapes including from growers on New York Long Island, it is a blend of Bordeaux varietals, 55% Merlot and 45% Malbec. 

Before this trip, my 'benchmark' for New York red wines was Cabernet Franc which here-to-fore was largely uninspiring. I was surprised (pleasantly) to discover other New York varietals, especially Bordeaux varietals, that were notably pleasant sipping and even serious drinking wines. 

Like those above, this exceeded my expectations and was a pleasant, easy drinking red blend. They cite that this is one of their most popular and consistently awarded labels. The bottle label indicates it won Gold at the San Francisco International Wine Competition, and the medals board notes it won a Gold at the New York Wine Classic.

Garnet colored, medium bodied, nicely balanced, smooth dark berry fruits with notes of dark mocha chocolate, dried cherries and hints of spice and tea on a moderate lingering finish. 

RM 87 points. 


Other Wines Tasted ...

Whitecliff Vineyards New York Reserve Chardonnay 2017

Whitecliff Vineyards New York Barrel Rose' 2018

Whitecliff Vineyards New York Dry Riesling 2017 

Whitecliff Vineyards New York Cabernet Franc 2017 

Whitecliff Vineyards New York Two Cabs 2015

Whitecliff Vineyards New York Merlot 2015 




Whitecliff Vineyards website - https://www.whitecliffwine.com/




Sunday, August 29, 2021

Poughkeepsie Hudson Valley New York destination

Poughkeepsie New York Hudson Valley destination site of numerous attractions, points of interest, and wine trails

Traveling to the region for son Alec's vow renewal wedding celebration, we stayed over to visit the Hudson River Valley. We centered our activities and logistics in the town of Poughkeepsie, NY which proved to be ideal with proximity to a wide range of attractions and varied points of interest: numerous wineries and vineyards on the Duchess County and Shawangunk Wine Trails, CIA - Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park campus, Marist University, Vasser College, President Franklin D Roosevelt Library, Vanderbilt Mansion and the legendary IBM Poughkeepsie campus. 

We toured the beautiful campus of Marist University overlooking the banks of the Hudson. It was emotional and heartfelt seeing the James Cannavino library bequeathed by former boss and dear friend Jim Cannavino.  

Another incredible attraction is the spectacular New York State Park "Walkway Over the Hudson", a footbridge crossing high above the Hudson on a trestle bridge overlooking and adjacent to the Mid-Valley Hudson River highway bridge. the longest elevated pedestrian bridge in the world (212 feet tall, 1.28 miles long). 


The town of Poughkeepsie also has a historic district, Little Italy and other historic sites. 

On the west bank of the Hudson, opposite the town of Poughkeepsie is the Shawangunk Wine Trail,  home to 13 wineries nestled between the Shawangunk Mountains and the Hudson River, just 60 miles north of NYC. 

We spent a day visiting several select producers in the area along the Shawangunk (Mountains) Wine Trail:

Whitecliff Vineyards in Gardner, New York

Benmarl Winery and Vineyards in Marlboro-Hudson, New York

Stoutridge Winery in Marlboro, New York

We finished the day dining at Henry's on the Farm at the historic Buttermilk Falls Inn.

As we left the region, we toured south along the Hudson to the town of Newburgh, New York, a  picturesque river town with several riverfront eateries. We dined at Billy Joe's  Ribworks on the waterfront with a view down the river several miles down to West Point. 



We finished our Hudson Valley tour with a visit to West Point and the US Army Military Academy before hitting the road back to Chicago.  

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Wedding Celebration features spectacular dinner and select vintage birthyear wines



Wedding Vow Renewal Celebration features spectacular dinner and select vintage birthyear wines

 Son Alec and wife Vivianna celebrated their wedding vows renewal in a memorable gala celebration with spectacular dinner and select vintage birthyear wines. The festivities were hosted by parents of the bride, Frank and Mary-lisa B., at their private club, Shorehaven Golf and Country Club in Norwalk, CT.

Following a vow renewal ceremony on the main lawn officiated by Vivianna's cousin, the B's hosted a spectacular reception and dinner followed by dancing and entertainment featuring the Steve Delisi Band, and a surprise performance by Father of the Bride, Frank B, accompanied by band vocalist and the groom, Alec. 

Part of the evening festivities also included a surprise announcement by the wedding couple that they are expecting in the spring, and Alec hit a 'gender reveal' golf ball off the Shorehaven Golf Club tee. 

Throughout the evening of hor d'ovres, dinner, desserts and cigars, I served a selection of wines from the bride's and groom's birthyear vintages that we brought from our home cellar collection, curated by members of our Pour Boys wine group attending from Chicago, Charleston, Boca Raton, Huntington \Beach and Indianapolis.

We brought a selection of wines from our cellar to share over the course of the weekend that we have been holding for such an occasion. These included two six liter large format Napa Cabernets that we served at a welcome reception the preceding evening:

Silver Oak Bonny's Vineyard Napa Valley Cabernet 1990

Newton Vineyard Spring Mountain Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1990

Then, on Saturday evening and Sunday brunch we served the following wines:

Chateau Beaucastel Chateauneuf du Pape 1990 from Magnum

Maison Leroy Maranges Côte de Beaune Burgundy Pinot Noir 1990

Dunn Vineyards Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1990

Freemark Abbey Bosche Vineyard Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1991

Flora Springs Trilogy Napa Valley Red Blend 1990

Fisher Vineyards Coach Insignia Red Blend 1991

Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1991

Chateau La Louviere Pessac Leognan Graves Bordeaux 1990

Dow Quinta do Bomfin Vintage Port 1990 

Vinho do Porto Osborn Late Bottled Vintage Port 1990 (Bottled in 1996)

Chateau Lafaurie Peyraguey Sauterne Bordeaux 1990

Clos Fontindoule Monbazzilac Bordeaux 1990


Earlier in the week, we served birthyear vintage Champagne and Amarone Valpolicella at a pre-festivities kick-off dinner at the B's home.

Thankfully, and amazingly, all the wines held up to or exceeded expectations, as hoped, in light of their thirty and thiry-one years of age. I was prepared for, and expecting some of the bottles to be over the hill, especially a couple that exhibited less than perfect fill levels due to slight seepage or customary evaporation over time. Every one of the wines showed well and was optimal given its age, a tribute to our cellar and storage conditions over the previous three decades.  

Pictures and further reviews coming ....


Friday, August 27, 2021

Big Bottle Birthyear wines for Wedding Celebration

Big Bottle Birthyear wines for Wedding Celebration

For son Alec and wife Vivianna's (re) wedding celebration festivities, we hosted a welcome reception for out of town guests and celebrants. We hosted the evening reception at the Boathouse Restaurant at the Saugatuck Rowing Club in Westport, Conneticut, with an evening of small bites and light drinks. 

As has become the custom in our family celebrations, we served a couple of large format six liter bottles of wine from the groom's birthyear vintage from our cellar

Silver Oak Bonny's Vineyard Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1990 

Silver Oak has become a legendary cult brand, known for its focus and bold vision: focus on one varietal, Cabernet Sauvignon, aged exclusively in American oak and worthy of cellaring for decades to come.

Silver Oak Cellars was founded by Bonny and Justin Meyer, together with their financial partner, Ray Duncan in 1972. Founder Ray Twomey Duncan, a Colorado entrepreneur, began investing in California vineyards in the late 1960s. Justin Meyer was a Christian Brothers-trained winemaker. They co-founded Silver Oak out of a Napa Valley dairy barn in 1972, producing only 1,000 cases of their inaugural vintage. 

Over the ensuing decades, Silver Oak gained immense popularity as their Napa Valley and Alexander Valley Cabernets sold quickly upon their release from the winery and became a highly sought-after staple on restaurant wine lists nationwide

Justin continued as winemaker until selecting Daniel Baron to succeed him in 1994, when he then retired, selling his share of Silver Oak to the Duncan family in 2001. Ray’s sons, David and Tim Duncan, own and operate the winery to this day which consists of more than 400 acres of vines in Napa Valley and Alexander Valley.

When Justin told his wife in 1974 that he was ripping out the three acres of clover in front of their Oakville home to plant a vineyard, Bonny Meyer suggested that she’d like to make it her own personal project.

Silver Oak Bonny's Vineyard was planted by Silver Oak founders Bonny and Justin Meyer in 1974 on a gravelly, four-acre plot in the Oakville district of Napa Valley adjacent to the family home.

When the first fruit came off the vines four years later, it was clear that this little, unusually gravelly patch of Napa Valley was something special. Instead of putting it into Silver Oak’s Napa Cabernet, Justin Meyer decided to bottle it separately in 1979, making it one of Napa’s first vineyard-designated wines. It became one of Napa Valley's legendary places, one of a few legendary vineyard names: To Kalon. Beckstoffer. Eisele. Martha’s Vineyard, and of course, Bonny’s.

The Christmas before the first vintage wine was to be released, Meyer surprised his wife with a hand-carved wooden sign, proclaiming it from that point forward, that little patch of vineyard in their front yard would forever be known as Bonny’s Vineyard.

Silver Oak’s inaugural vintage was crushed that fall after Justin and Bonny returned from their honeymoon. In the early years Bonny managed Silver Oak business and sales while Justin oversaw winemaking and managed burgeoning Franciscan Vineyards, purchased by the partners in 1975. A couple of years after the partners sold Franciscan, Justin left and took over primary management duties at Silver Oak. Always part of the management team, Bonny focused on PR, marketing, and package and facility design. The original Silver Oak and Meyer Family Port labels both won design awards, as did the Oakville Silver Oak winery when it was completed in 1982. 
Today Bonny is a partner in Meyer Cellars, a family business, and continues to focus on marketing and investing as a Principal of Meyer Family Enterprises, and her interest as a philanthropist and a community activist.
Silver Oak produced a Bonny’s Vineyard Cabernet from 1979 until 1991, when they discontinued the label. From its very first vintage, it washighly regarded and recognized by both consumers and critics. Son Matt Meyer, recalls, “I can remember my dad saying after one of their annual August release parties where the Bonny’s sold out in a matter of hours, ‘We’ve got more than a thousand cases of Alexander Valley and Napa Valley Cabernet left, and not a single one of Bonny’s.'" Realizing they were disappointing more people than they were making happy, Silver Oak decided to stop making a separate Bonny’s Vineyard release and started blending the fruit into their Napa Valley bottling.

When Justin Meyer retired in 2000, he sold his share of Silver Oak to his longtime partner, Ray Duncan. While there were discussions of Meyer hanging on to a few of the vineyards, ultimately, all the vineyards were included in the deal, except for one, Bonny's, because it was simply the front yard of the family home.
Bonny’s Vineyard was replanted in 1999 and began producing viable fruit in 2002, when sadly, only a month before harvest Justin Meyer died of a heart attack. That year’s harvest proved a somber one for the family, and the single barrel of Bonny’s Vineyard Cabernet they produced under the new Meyer Family Cellars label was not and never will be sold.

It was a much-heralded bottling for Silver Oak over the course of the next two decades, then discontinued as a single vineyard designated label for a dozen years. The vineyard is now bottled under its own label by the Meyers.  
 In 2003, twelve years after the name Bonny’s Vineyard last appeared on a wine label, the Meyer family released its first commercially available Bonny’s Vineyard Cabernet, which they have produced every year since. The family believes the fruit from the roughly 1.5 acres of the vineyard surrounding the homestead, represents the best of what the site has to offer. 

This bottle was a one of only sixty such bottles produced in the second to last 1990 vintage of Silver Oak “Bonny’s Vineyard” Cabernet. We served it out of the original wood case engraved with the wine vintage and marked with the serial number of the particular bottle.

Winemaker Notes: "The 1990 Napa Valley Bonny's Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon has a dark ruby-red color. It has a nose of black cherries, red peppers and bay leaves. This wine has full body and a tart, long finish with a slight tannic grip."

This release was awarded 94 points by Robert Parker's Wine Advocate.

Still showing well at 31 years, the fill level, label, foil and cork were near perfect. Of course storage in a six liter large format bottle ages better than a standard bottle. 

Never-the-less, dark garnet colored, medium-full bodied, dense concentrated black berry and black currant fruits accented by graphite, cigar box, leather and notes of cassis and spicy oak on a long lingering finish. 

RM 93 points. 



Newton Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1990

The Newton Estate consists of a square mile of hillside that was acquired by Dr Su Hua and Peter Newton in 1977. The Newton Vineyards Spring Mountain property sits above the town of St Helena on the steep slopes of the Mayacamas Mountain range, which separates Napa Valley from Sonoma County. The site boasts expansive vistas of Napa Valley with steep sun drenched slopes by day and the cooling valley at night. The terraced mountain estate has less than one-fifth of its total 490 acres planted to vines at elevations ranging from 500 to 1,600 feet above sea level. The non-farmed acreage remains in its native forested state providing natural habitat for indigenous wildlife.

Newton Vineyard was one of the first wineries in the Spring Mountain AVA (American Viticultural Area) in Napa Valley. The Newton estate consists of 112 parcels or lots, all planted to specific varieties, including Bordeaux varietals Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot, and Chardonnay, with an emphasis on Cabernet Sauvignon. All 112 parcels are vinified separately, so to provide the winemaking team plenty of options for crafting the final blend before bottling. In 1990, Newton was the first winery to produce and sell an unfiltered Chardonnayin the US, making it a pioneer in the Napa wine industry. While Chardonnay tends to be Newton's most well-known and popular wine, it also produces powerful red wines that have become renowned cross the world.

The winery was designed and built to blend into the mountain and includes elements of the founders’ native lands interwoven with the California environment — roses, a pagoda, a Japanese red gate, lanterns, a London phone booth and French gardens.

In addition to the estate property, Newton also has holdings in Yountville, Mount Veeder, and Carneros, which the company uses for blends.

In 2001, part of Newton was sold to luxury group LVMH, and it continues to be one of the internationally known producers in Napa Valley. The founders previously founded Sterling Vineyards, also in Napa Valley, but sold it to Coca Cola in the 1970s.

I served from our cellar a six liter bottle of Newton Vineyards Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon from Alec's birthyear vintage, 1990, that we have been holding for more than a decade for such an occastion.

Newton Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1990  

At thirty-one years of age, the bottle had a wax capsule that was cracked and showed some signs of seepage and a resulting slightly reduced fill level at the bottom of the neck. The cork was completely saturated but the label was still unmarred. 

The wine lived up to loftiest expectations showing little or no sign of diminution from aging or from the dispacement of a small portion of the wine. 

This vintage release was awarded 95 points by Robert Parker's Wine Advocate.

The 1990 Cabernet Sauvignon was the first Newton Cabernet to have an extended maceration of 25-35 days and to include an important percentage of Cabernet Franc in the final blend. 

Ruby colored, medium-full bodied, a firm dense core of firm blackcurrant and black cherry fruits was accented by notes of cigar box, black tea and cedar with hints of cassis and dark mocha chocolate with supple tannins on the lingering finish.

RM 91 points. 


The Newton Website is currently offering the 1994 release of this label - 84 bottles are available to club members only on their website.