There’s a revolution going on in the Hudson Valley. Production of handcrafted artisanal beverages is booming, and our region is increasingly the nexus. But rather than thinking in terms of competition, local beverage producers are collaborating, reaching out to each other and working together.
“Apples, Grapes & Barley” on Saturday, May 21 from noon to 5 p.m. is a new tasting tour of bubbly artisanal beverages produced in and around Gardiner. Five stops on the self-guided excursion — Whitecliff Vineyard & Winery, Yard Owl Craft Brewery and Gardiner Liquid Mercantile of Gardiner, Kettleborough Cider House in New Paltz and Highland’s Bad Seed Cider — offer the opportunity to try sparkling wine and fine champagne from locally grown Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes, small-batch keg-conditioned beers, sparkly cocktail creations and unique local hard ciders. Each of the producers will offer some educational information about how the bubbles are introduced into their beverage and will talk a little about where their product fits into the development of the region as a hub for craft beverages.
Tickets cost $20 if purchased online through the Whitecliff Vineyard website at www.whitecliffwine.com by the day before the tour or $25 on the day of the event from any of the participating beverage producers. Each of the locations will also offer a light snack to accompany their beverages and discounts on their products to ticket holders on the event day. Tour-goers may visit the destinations in any order of their choosing; all locations are no more than 15 miles apart.
The tour originated with Yancey Stanforth-Migliore and Michael Migliore of Whitecliff Vineyard & Winery in Gardiner, who found themselves with an unusually large selection of different types of wine this year, including a variety of bubbly wines. The Migliores decided it would be more interesting to showcase these selections by joining forces with other local beverage producers. “There are some really creative things happening here,” says Yancey. “And we consider it a strength that there are so many different reasons for people to come to this area.”
Tour-goers at Whitecliff will try a trio of sparkling wines and a true champagne, which according to Yancey doesn’t often get included in tastings due to its cost and the limits to how long the bubbles last once the bottle is opened. “And our champagnes are the real deal,” she says. “They’re the equivalent of a French grower’s champagne, meaning the small producers that are growing the grapes and making the wine themselves.”
The champagne process, méthode champenoise, as it’s called, is very labor intensive, and very hands-on. “We should count how many times each bottle is touched by hand,” adds Yancey. “It would be quite a lot.”
After a still wine is created, the bubbles in true champagne are produced through a secondary fermentation done in each bottle with the addition of yeast and sugar, she explains. The wine is then aged for up to three years. “Then you have to go through another process to get the yeast out of the bottle; also very labor intensive. But what that gives you is complex yeasty flavors, which are associated with fine champagne.”
Whitecliff Vineyard normally sells their champagne for $35 a bottle; on the day of the tasting event, the cost will be $25.
The sparkling wines to be tasted on the tour are much simpler and less complex, as well as less expensive, but still very tasty, Yancey says. Bubbles are added to those through forced carbonation. Hudson Valley cheeses and crackers will accompany the tasting.
At Kettleborough Cider House in New Paltz, tour-goers can sample an Apple Mimosa, which combines their dry cider — which tastes like “apple prosecco,” says Tim Dressel — with regular apple cider.
Bad Seed Cider in Highland will offer their original dry cider with zero grams of sugar, conditioned in the bottle like a champagne. “We’ll also have our raspberry hard cider, fermented with one pound of raspberries per gallon,” says Devin Britton, partner in the business along with Albert Wilklow. Samples will be accompanied by local meats, cheeses and artisanal crackers.
Gardiner Liquid Mercantile will offer a sparkling craft cocktail and Yard Owl Craft Brewery their handcrafted beer.
Stops on the tour
Whitecliff Vineyard & Winery, 331 McKinstry Road, Gardiner; (845) 255-4613, www.whitecliffwine.com.
Yard Owl Craft Brewery, 19 Osprey Lane, Gardiner; (845) 255-3436, www.yardowlcraftbrewery.com.
Gardiner Liquid Mercantile, 128 Main Street, Gardiner; (845) 633-8764, www.gardinerliquidmercantile.com.
Bad Seed Cider, 43 Baileys Gap Road, Highland; (845) 236-0956, www.badseedhardcider.com.
Kettleborough Cider House, 277 Route 208, New Paltz; (845) 255-7717, www.kettleboroughciderhouse.com.