The Dutchess Wine Trail is a group of wineries located in the eastern part of the Hudson Valley’s beautiful Dutchess County. Whatever season you choose to visit in, traveling the back roads of Millbrook, Clinton, and Red Hook, where the wineries are located, is a ramble every wine lover should experience.
Millbrook Vineyards & Winery
Small green signs adorned with grapes lead you on the winery trail beginning on Route 44 off the Taconic State Parkway in Millbrook, New York. Your first stop will be Millbrook Vineyards & Winery. The vineyard is part of a 130-acre estate and is open for tours and tastings seven days a week, year round from noon to 5 p.m. They are closed on major holidays, New Year’s Day, Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.
The complimentary tour includes an inside view of the entire winemaking process. From grapes to glass, a guide will lead you through the care of the grape vines, the harvest, the fermentation process, the pressing, the aging, and the bottling. There is a fee for tastings. Millbrook Vineyards has won critical acclaim for their wines, which include Chardonnay, Gamay Noir, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, Tocai Friulano, and some additional rare varietals. Their newest wine is a New York State Hunt Country Rosé, which they say is drier and more full-bodied than traditional rosé.
After finishing up at Millbrook, you can follow the Dutchess Wine Trail signs northwest to Clinton Vineyards, where visitors can wander through the orderly grape laden vines on their way to the tasting room. The site features 15 acres of land, historic barns, a pond, and lovely gardens.
Established in 1976 by Ben Feder, Clinton Vineyards offers a Seyval Blanc white wine, three varieties of Champagne and 7 varieties of dessert wine including “Embrace,” which is made exclusively from organically grown raspberries, and their award winning Black Currant Cassis wine which won the gold for Best Dessert Wine at the L.A. County Fair Wines of the World Competition held in Los Angeles in the spring of 2005.
Visitors can view the winemaking facility, visit the champagne cellar, and purchase their favorite wine at the retail shop. Clinton Vineyards is open for tours and tastings year round, Friday to Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Groups can be scheduled on other days.
Alison Wines & Vineyards
Next, the wine trail map leads you north to Pine Plains and then west to Red Hook where you’ll find the final stop on the trail, Alison Wines & Vineyards.
Named in honor of Owner and Winemaker Richard Lewit’s wife, Alison and opened in 1999, the winemaking operation is set in a 19th Century dairy barn. According to their Web site, the oldest section of the barn dates back to the mid 1800s. “Parts of the barn are dug into a hillside, creating a natural barrel cave that is used for fermenting and aging wine.” Lewit makes a variety of table wines as well as some dessert-style wines from locally grown fruits like strawberries, blueberries, and apples. In the fall, enjoy some of their homemade apple and pear ciders. Among the wines offered are Seyval Blanc 2004 made from 100 percent Hudson Valley grapes, Chardonnay Reserve 2002, Chardonnay Diana 2001, and Cabernet Franc 2002, which won a gold medal at the 2005 Finger Lakes International Competition.
After your tour and tasting, take a minute to enjoy the panoramic views of the Catskill Mountains visible from the property, and shop in the adjacent Greig Farm Market. Alison Wines & Vineyard is open Fridays through Mondays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. or by appointment.
All three wineries on the Dutchess Wine Trail are all located within a half hour of each other. As you travel our historic county roads, you can almost picture the horse and carriages that traveled through here on wooded paths. Why fly to Napa, when a trip to the Hudson Valley can provide history, relaxation, and a variety of wines that is sure to satisfy the palate of even the most discerning wine connoisseur. For more information, visit www.dutchesswinetrails.com.