One of the oldest and most historically important wine areas in America, the Hudson River region, can be credited for pioneering many of the innovations that have helped the New York wine industry grow and prosper.
Nestled among the rolling Shawangunk Mountains on the west side and in picturesque Columbia, Dutchess and Westchester counties on the east side of the Hudson River, its wineries produce superb wines using Native American, French-American and European grape varieties ideally suited to the region’s unique climate and soil.
Some of the country’s oldest vineyards can be found in the Hudson Valley. The French Huguenots planted the first vines in New Paltz (now part of Ulster County) in 1677, a hundred years before any vines were planted in what is now California. The Huguenots discovered a unique combination of soil, climate and sun that together make for ideal grape-growing conditions. They originally planted their vines on the hillsides of the Hudson Highlands and started a tradition of grapes and wine that continues to this day.
The winemaking industry in the valley has survived through wars, revolutions, blights, bad weather and Prohibition to become one of the most innovative and diverse areas of viniferous cultivation in the nation.
The broad expanse of the Hudson River serves a dual purpose. The flowing water helps keep the climate temperate, and the valley serves as a conduit for maritime breezes from the south. The gently sloping hills provide ideal sites for vineyards, some of which, like those owned by Benmarl Vineyards, have been planted for centuries. For many years, Benmarl was farmed by Mark Miller (shown here in a self portrait), a true pioneer of the region.
A visit to the Hudson Valley, less than an hour and a half from New York City, offers hospitable winery tasting rooms, where you can often meet the owners and taste award-winning wines, including fruit wines.
And beyond the wineries and wine trails, the Hudson River Valley contains a wealth of natural beauty, rich with hiking and biking trails, famous historic sites, and a culinary treasure of farms and restaurants.