Might as well accept it: As Temperate Zone dwellers, it is our destiny to fatten up in the fall. That way, if we get stuck in our cars in a snowbank for three days undiscovered, we have something to burn. Higher obesity rates among contemporary Americans are just evolution’s poky way of catching up with the Machine Age.
That being said, we find ourselves armed with an ironclad rationale to spend the next few months partaking of as many as we can of the harvest festivals that abound in the Hudson Valley each autumn. One of our deepest annual dives into the culinary and oenological cornucopia occurs this weekend at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds, as the Hudson Valley Wine & Food Fest returns for its 16th outing. There you’ll find gourmet specialty foods to pair with your choice of hundreds of wines, craft beers, ciders and distilled spirits, the vast majority of them produced in New York State.
In January 2017, InStyle magazine named the Hudson Valley Wine & Food Fest one of the “18 Best Wine Festivals across America,” and 50 New York wineries – 15 of them from the Valley itself – will be represented there this year. Microbrews are an area of increasing interest, and ten New York State breweries will be in attendance as well, along with seven cideries and 15 distilleries. The Fairgrounds are licensed as a farm market, so festgoers can actually purchase bottles of their favorites to take home after sampling, and have them set aside in the Wine Pickup Tent until they’re ready to leave. Foodies will revel in the live cooking demonstrations by master chefs Kevin DesChenes, Shaun O’Neale, Gail Sokol and Vincent Tropepe – not to mention the dream lineup of fair food on offer in the Gourmet Food Truck Corral.
The Hudson Valley Wine & Food Fest goes on from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, September 9 and until 5 p.m. on Sunday, September 10. A Tasting Ticket good for either day costs $40 at the gate, $35 by advance order online and includes a tasting glass and all the wine, beer, cider or spirits samples that you’d care to taste. Regular admission for designated drivers, entitling you to free water and soda all day and a souvenir tasting glass upon exit, costs $15 at the gate, $13 in advance. Children age 12 and under are admitted free of charge. Food costs extra, but parking is free.
The Dutchess County Fairgrounds are located at 6550 Spring Brook Avenue (Route 9) in Rhinebeck. To preorder tickets or find out more, visit www.hudsonvalleywinefest.com.