A trip to Rhinebeck, New York, to drop our daughter off for an internship program provided the perfect opportunity to visit our very first Hudson Valley winery.
Our business in Rhinebeck took several hours longer than anticipated and we were unsure we could still make the visit. We had hoped to check out two wineries, but with evening rapidly approaching, we turned to Jan (our GPS with the sporty English accent) to pilot our car to Millbrook Vineyards & Winery.
Grapes have been grown in the Hudson Valley for hundreds of years and some of the oldest vineyards can be found here. The French Hugenots planted the first vines in New Paltz in 1677 – more than a 100 years before any were planted in California. The region now has more than 20 wineries.
Millbrook is considered one of the top wineries in the Hudson Valley and New York state. It’s easy to see why.
The winery is owned by John Dyson, the former state commissioner of agriculture who was responsible for jump-starting the region’s wine industry in the 1970s. Dyson began converting an old dairy farm into Millbrook Winery in 1979 and their first commercial vintage was in 1985. Dyson and wife Kathe have gone on to establish a thriving business that includes not only Millbrook, but a small winery in Tuscany and California cult Pinot Noir producer William Selyem.
The renovated Dutch-hip barn that houses the winery sits atop a scenic hill covered with vines with scenic views of the Catskill Mountains. The winery produces 12,000 to 14,000 cases per year with estate-grown grapes, as well as grapes from other New York vineyards and some from Dyson owned vineyards in California.
The tasting room and gift show is clean and stylish and the loft area of the barn features an eclectic space sprinkled with artwork that makes a sensational setting for special events.
|Millbrook produces a private label|
Chardonnay for rocker Daryl Hall.
Next up was something completely different, the 2010 Tocai Fruiliano. This is an Italian grape only grown in New York by Millbrook. Five acres of the 30 acres under vine at Millbrook are dedicated to this unique varietal.
It is the most widely planted and most often drunk wine throughout the areas of the Friulia region in Northeast Italy. The grape and the wine it makes have no connection to the better known Hugarian Tokaji or to France's Tokay d'Alsace. It is believed to be the grape known as Sauvignon Vert.
This is a light fruity wine designed to be enjoyed young and is a good match for seafood or shellfish.
On the red side, we enjoyed the Hunt Country Red, a blend of 58% Merlot, 26% Cabernet Franc, 8% Zinfandel and 8% Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine is perfect for a barbecue with deep blackberry and dark cherry flavors with a touch of spice. We picked up a bottle of this to enjoy with my brother that evening.
Our favorite for the tasting was the 2008 Cabernet Franc with 82% Cabernet Franc, 13% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. The 2007 Proprietor’s Reserve is 100% Cab Franc and when we were leaving I was about to pick up a bottle of the Reserve when I noticed a magnum of 2007 Cab Franc for only $39. Although it isn’t 100% Cab Franc, it does have the extra year in the bottle and upon our server’s recommendation, the big bottle found a new home.
The Cab Frank has rich berry flavors swirling with plum and spice building to a rich, ripe finish.
Millbrook is a destination winery that also produces wines of distinction.