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.