Thirsting to get to know the real Hudson Valley? If you’re a wine and spirits lover, it’s hard to imagine a better way to enjoy our splendid scenery, warm welcome, and superb flavors than a taste along the Shawangunk Wine Trail. The trail is heir to 300 years of historic expertise; the oldest member winery, Brotherhood in Washingtonville, is also the oldest continuously operating winery in America.
Other wineries have come into being as a new generation discovered and built upon a grandparent’s knack for the grape. And what may seem new—cideries and distilleries—shares in that same historic lineage, being a resurgence of long-ago practices.
“Autumn at the wineries is a celebration of harvest,” says Jude DeFalco, the trail’s operations manager, “with fruit picking, fire pits, music… so many fun things. And the wineries are all on large properties with great views, so you really can’t go wrong.”
The round trip along the Shawangunk Wine Trail is 85 miles, and DeFalco suggests picking a cluster of wineries—like a bunch of ripened grapes—to visit in a day or weekend, the better to savor each flavor. If you’d rather have someone else do the driving, so you can sip to your heart’s content, there are seven different limousine companies with Wine Trail expertise—and one, vip winery vacations, that will get you a wine expert driver for your own car: vipwineryvacations.com
To guide you in your planning, here is a taste of what to expect at each: Wineries are listed in alphabetical order, and the Shawangunk Wine Trail website (shawangunkwinetrail.com) offers a handy map to your closest cluster.
The round trip along the Shawangunk Wine Trail is 85 miles, and Jude DeFalco suggests picking a cluster of wineries like a bunch of ripened grapes—to visit in a day or weekend, the better to savor each flavor
angry orchard hard cider
was named for the gnarly look of fine cider apples; they’re not the pretty ones you see in the produce bins, and Angry Orchard’s experts will explain why. The hip brand has taken the wider world of cider by storm.
is the home of Naked Flock Hard Cider and Mead, as well as a delicious selection of reds and whites. You’ll find table service for tastings at the Pavilion Bar and Cider Cafe. Try the Smashed Cherry Mead with your wood-fired pizza or charcuterie board.
is pet-friendly, and you can bring your own eats and picnic on the lawn during Saturday live music. Try the Autumn Crush—it’s a dry wine with apple and pumpkin flavors, fermented on hops for an experience you’ll only find here.
is the home of America’s oldest vineyard, which happens to be located on a lush hillside with truly stunning Hudson River views. Benmarl is also the holder of New York Farm Winery License #1. Try one of their signature Marlboro Village offerings—and pair it with the à la carte food Benmarl offers onsite, including brick-oven pizza.
produced its first recorded vintage in 1839, and things just keep getting better. Reserve ahead for a private tour and tasting experience like no other, and marvel at the tales of grit and glory. Try the #BAE line of refreshing wine seltzers to discover just how fresh they keep it.
is a laid-back beauty with ample seating indoors and out where you can revel in live music and tasty food; if someone in your party prefers a brew, they’ve got local craft beers. Try the Estate Noiret, a rich dark red original grown and developed here in collaboration with Cornell.
glorie farm winery
welcomes you to grab a picnic table on their lovely fruit farm and spend the day—there’s fruit for sale along with the wine, and they even have a fruit-forward CSA that will keep your mouth happy all summer long. Try their Berries & Cherries & Grapes to see what these fruits can do in the hands of a genius vintner.
magnanini farm winery and restaurant
fulfills the legacy of Galba, who learned to work with grapes in his native Italy. His son Richard’s been working among the vines since age 15. Come by on a Friday for Pasta Night and do try some authentic grappa—they have nine varieties made with fresh berries, walnuts, honey, and other local delicacies.
palaia winery & meadery
is likewise inspired by a gifted Italian grandpa but lays claim to the title of “The Valley’s Hippie Winery” with offerings like Zappa Red Mule and Raspberry Fields. You’ll find delicious wraps and paninis on the menu; wash them down with a swig of mead or a Wine Slushy.
robibero family vineyards
has yet another Italian grandpa as inspiration (wine lovers sure do owe those Italian grandpas some gratitude) and will happily serve you some specialty meats and cheeses on the veranda with your tasting—or you can buy a bottle to go with your picnic of choice on the lawn. Well-behaved dogs are welcome, and there’s a lovely fire-pit.
stoutridge vineyard & distillery
is a restored classic heritage farm—and one of the first distilleries in the US to have its own malting floor and kilning floor. They pride themselves on state-of-the-art eco-friendliness. To experience the blend of historic and modern in full glory, try the Absinthe Nocturne.
warwick valley winery and distillery
lays claim to being the first modern cidery in New York. Doc’s Cider (now sold in 28 states and 3 countries) was born in 1994 and, a year later, Warwick Valley held the first Bob Dylan Tribute Festival in 1995, the beginning of a beloved live music tradition. Try something from their American Fruits line of brandies, liquors, and cordials.
co-founder Michael Migliori has a master’s degree in organic chemistry and uses his wizardry to fulfill the legacy of two winemaking grandpas, Italian and German. With fellow scientists from Cornell, he’s been on a 30-year quest for the finest Hudson Valley-friendly grape varieties. Taste the award-winning results in their Awosting White.