Each summer for the past 20 years, one or another of the 14 wineries that comprise the Shawangunk Wine Trail has taken a turn at hosting the Bounty of the Hudson Wine & Food Festival. It’s primarily a wine-tasting event, in which all 14 bring out their latest and greatest vintages to vie for the palates of oenophiles gathering from all over the tri-state area.
But food is also an essential component of Bounty of the Hudson, with a variety of restaurants, trendy food trucks, purveyors of artisan edibles and locally grown farm produce on hand selling tasty tidbits to pair with whatever wine you’re sipping next. With Jude DeFalco, formerly on staff at the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ulster County, now on board as the operations manager (and sole employee) of the Shawangunk Wine Trail, it’s not surprising that the food choices are getting more play this year than at past Bounty events. “My goal is to get people to visit the Trail. I actually don’t know that much about wine,” DeFalco admits — but he does know a lot about the farm-to-table movement and how to source fresh local produce.
Bounty of the Hudson 2015 will take place on Saturday and Sunday, July 25 and 26, at the Benmarl Winery in Marlboro. Though it’s not the oldest winery in America, Benmarl does boast the country’s oldest vineyard amongst its 37 acres — not to mention a stunning view of the Hudson River. Its small-batch wines, blending estate-grown Baco Noir and Cabernet Franc with Riesling imported from the Finger Lakes and Merlot from Long Island, are a crash course in how terrific New York State wines are getting to be nowadays, giving California and the Pacific Northwest a serious run for their money as a wine-producing region.
Ironically, part of what is making the Hudson Valley more viable for growing fine wine grapes is precisely the same issue that gives many of us nightmares about the future of our children and grandchildren: climate change. “Global warming is creating new challenges as well as opening doors to opportunities that were never there before. New technologies and winemaking practices are aiding us in crafting exceptional wines, while at the same time allowing us to address issues of sustainability,” writes Matt Spaccarelli, general manager at Benmarl. “The decisions that we make today will inevitably shape the environment we will have to work in down the road. This is not only a challenge, but a responsibility.”
Besides plenty of wines to taste and yummy foods to accompany them, the event will feature a great lineup of live music. The Lindsey Webster Band will be featured on Saturday and Thunder Ridge on Sunday. It’s lawn seating, so bring a blanket or folding chair. Tastings will take place under a large tent, rain or shine.
Advance tickets to the 20th annual Bounty of the Hudson Wine & Food Festival cost $28 per person for one day, which includes admission, a Shawangunk Wine Trail souvenir wineglass, a sampling at each of the attending wineries and an afternoon of live music. Ticket prices will increase to $38 on the day of the event. Designated Driver tickets will be available at the gate for $10.
Bounty of the Hudson runs from noon to 5 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday, July 25 and 26. Benmarl Winery is located at 156 Highland Avenue in Marlboro. To purchase tickets or find out more, visit www.bountyofthehudson.com.