Imagine sipping a glass of Warwick Valley Winery “Black Dirt Blush” in the early afternoon, a picnic blanket spread out before you on the spacious lawn of their Pine Island vineyard, minutes from flat onion fields. Hours later you’re sipping a Robibero Family Vineyards Merlot on the back porch of their New Paltz facility, a view of the Shawangunk Ridge towering nearby. You’ve just toured the Hudson Valley by way of wine.
That’s the idea of the Shawangunk Wine Trail, which encompasses 15 member wineries that stretch from lower Orange County to the New Paltz area. The Trail is also an organization that aims to boost tourism for its wineries through annual events, promotions, and informational assistance. It’s a great way to sip and indulge in the Hudson Valley’s wine bounty.
“Every weekend there’s something to do somewhere,” says Jude.
“Why not add some wine tasting into your weekend?”
“In my experience, I’ve seen people that live right in this area who don’t know what the Shawangunk Wine Trail is,” says Jude DeFalco, operations manager of the trail since 2014. But when people start seeking out the region’s wineries, they frequently stumble upon the trail and realize it’s an important resource.
I’ll get calls and emails every day from people out in the area,” says Jude. “They’re doing the wine trail and want to know where to stay, where to eat. It’s good to point them to
the website and let them know we have an extensive list of places to stay and all the directions to the Wine Trail wineries.” The trail includes four wineries in the Warwick area - Applewood, Clearview, Demarest Hill, and Warwick Valley; two in eastern Orange County— Brotherhood and Palaia; two in the Pine Bush area— Baldwin and Brimstone Hill; four in the Marlboro area—Benmarl, Brunel & Rafael, Glorie Farm, and Stoutridge; and three in the New Paltz area—Adair, Robibero, and Whitecliff.
“It’s a unique experience for people who want to taste wine during the holiday season,” says Jude.
The variety is staggering. Brotherhood in Washingtonville is America’s oldest winery, an impressive facility that runs like clockwork and whose property includes an 1837 mansion and a gourmet café. Up the road a bit in Marlboro, Benmarl Winery is a small-batch winery with showstopping valley views and an on-site bed-and-breakfast. And nearby Brunel & Rafael Winery is in a converted farmhouse, a charming and more rustic setting compared to the rather ornate Brotherhood complex, but equally enjoyable.
The clustering of wineries across the region makes it easy to visit multiple wineries in one day, or you can spread out your visits and purchase the Hudson Valley Wine Tasting Passport (currently $43.20), which allows you to visit each of the fifteen wineries for a tasting over the course of eight months (January through August). If you purchase a pass in 2018 you will be able to use it year-round. For the slightly more ambitious, the Wine Trail also
The Shawangunk Wine Trail encompasses fifteen member wineries that stretch from lower Orange County to the New Paltz area.
hosts annual events that invite visitors to stop at every winery (or as many as possible) over an entire weekend. Arguably its most popular ongoing event is Wreath Fineries at the Wineries, which is scheduled for three weekends in November and early December (Nov. 18–19, Dec. 2–3, Dec. 9–10).
Ticket holders sign up to start their tour at a member winery—where they receive a souvenir wine glass, grapevine wreath, and wine trail ornament—then take self-guided tours along the trail. Each winery will be decorated for the holiday season, and ticket holders receive a tasting and wreath ornament when they visit it that weekend. Wreath Fineries is a great way to tour the region while picking up holiday gifts—anything from locally produced honey to winery-produced spirits.
Some of the wineries—like Warwick Valley and its Doc’s Draft line and Applewood Winery and its Naked Flock line—are also renowned for hard apple cider. Or why not give the gift of a locally produced bottle of wine that would be hard to come by anywhere else? “It’s a unique experience for people who want to taste wine during the holiday season,” says Jude.
The trail also hosts Bounty of the Hudson in June, in which member wineries and other wineries across the region unite at the Ulster County Fairgrounds for two days of wine tasting, pairing with local restaurant fare and live music. Ticket holders for the festival receive a souvenir wine glass and a sampling from each attending winery.
“Every weekend there’s something to do
somewhere,” says Jude. “Why not add some
wine tasting into your weekend?”
No matter how you indulge in the Shawangunk Wine Trail, it’s the perfect way to sample local wines while enjoying a day or weekend with friends. The trail is a popular idea for bachelorette parties, birthdays, and Mother’s and Father’s Day celebrations, though groups of 10 or more should call the Wine Trail before making plans, since some wineries are smaller and have trouble accommodating larger groups. But whether you’re a group or a couple seeking a little time alone in local wine country, the trail can help give you the best possible experience savoring the flavors of the Hudson Valley vineyards.
shawangunk wine trail