Residents and visitors alike can find just about anything they need in the Saugerties village area — there’s a hardware store, a small grocer, all manner of made-to-order food, a sweet shop, flowers and gardening supplies. Also there are numerous pizza and coffee options and even a lingerie boutique.
Now, too, libations are within arm’s reach, found just behind a bright red-painted brick façade at Windmill Wine and Spirits at 89 Partition St. Since purchasing Garlic Festival birthplace Shale Hill Farm in 2012, becoming the fifth owners of the pre-Prohibition era Dutch Ale House (now just called “The Dutch”) and relocating themselves full-time from New York City, Windmill proprietors Dallas and Ted Gilpin have rooted themselves into the community.
“We had been talking to Suzanne when she was closing down Partition Street Wine Shoppe and when she said she was closing we thought, ‘Obviously, this is a walking village and we think that it needs a wine and spirits store.’ It wasn’t necessarily in our plan to open one, except we knew there would be a need,” said Dallas. “When Ted and I walked in here, kind of half-serious about doing it and we saw the space, we thought that it had to be a wine and spirits store.”
Affixed to the ceiling are peculiar paddle-fans, which were water-powered from the building’s first life as a restaurant in 1864 until 1911, when a long addition was added to accommodate a small duck pin bowling alley. A long bar made of old-growth fir, which had been walled off during the building’s life as Café Tamayo from 1987 until the Gilpins acquired it, is also an original structure.
The Gilpins brought their beloved mixologist from their restaurant, Derek Williams, to man The Windmill storefront and stock its shelves. It was something of a challenge — Williams said he’d sampled six or seven hundred wines in the months leading up to the location’s July 12 grand opening. He said that having a prosecco called Ombra, his personal favorite, was his first mental note when he was asked to embark on the viniferous endeavor.
“You can’t fake it in this atmosphere,” said Williams, who has worked in an array of service-industry capacities for the last two decades but is still learning the ins and outs of running a wine shop. “Not that I think I’ve ever faked it, but you have to have the answers to the questions people are asking … You just have to drink ‘em, I think that’s the most succinct way to phrase it — you don’t know it until you drink it and you talk about it. It’s a serious undertaking.”
Rather than organize the wines by region, Williams has taken a more intuitive approach. He’s organized the wines by broad category, with the lightest and most crisp of them closest to the store’s window and the headier, darker selections further back and liquor in the recesses of the long shotgun shack-style building. His goal in stocking that way was, he said, to provide options at a wide array of price-points and options.
Every Friday, starting this week on July 19 at 5 pm with a selection of rosés, will feature a new wine tasting; also planned are food-pairing events with John Boda, the resident chef at The Dutch.
“For us doing this was a natural extension of that business,” said Dallas. “Luckily they’re close to each other, we’re still there a lot … Saugerties still feels very real to us.”