The vineyard was planted in 1974; Ben released hisfirst wine in ‘78––that was the ‘77 harvest. He won all themedals up and down the East Coast. It was a triumph forhim [even though] it was just 300 cases.The concept that Ben had (he was a Francophile) was toemulate in some way the tradition of the small estatevineyards in France, where they specialize in a singlegrape. Seyval is a French-American hybrid and a goodgrape for the Hudson Valley. The concept is, I think,intelligent; it’s based on what can grow well here. Ben wentto France and learned about
; hecame back and then did a beautiful
.And he was making a little bit of Riesling.When Ben and I got together we expanded a bit intomore of the
product and includeddessert wine.We have our Seyval Naturelle—that was the first[champagne]. Then we have Peach Gala. (That was amarvelous discovery. We had been to somebody’s housewhere they were pouring a French pink champagne—Ithink it was called Peche. We said this is pleasant but youknow, it’s weak. So we thought, let’s see what we can do.)We have another one called Royale—it’s SeyvalNaturalle with a little bit of Nuit, our wild black raspberrywine. It’s a blush—a gorgeous color. And one is Jubilee—itis really for people who say they like dry. The fellow inFrance from whom Ben learned about
said to him, “You know, Americans
theylike dry but they don’t really mean it.” However, this
dryand a lot of people truly love it. It’s very special.So, we were making table wine—Seyval Blanc—wewere making four
and one late-harvest Seyval we called Romance. And that was it—everything from Seyval.Enter Norman Greig, who had all those raspberries. Hehad tested an automatic harvester for the raspberries andbefore they knew it they had a thousand extra pounds of raspberries. Norman came here and asked if Ben wouldconsider buying his raspberries and making a raspberrywine. And Ben said, “No no, I don’t do that. Wespecialize—we just grow our grapes to make our wine.”Finally Norman prevailed. The wine was so lovely I named itEmbrace, and everybody really enjoyed it, so the thoughtwas we’ll buy another thousand pounds. Norman said,“Fine, but you have to pick them yourself”—he didn’t buythe harvester.Then Ben sought other growers and found a couple of ladies on the other side of the river who said, “Oh, yeah, wegrow beautiful raspberries, but you should see ourblackberries.” So he said, “Okay, send me a thousandpounds of blackberries.” And then he created Desire. So wehad Romance, Embrace and Desire. We added on from that.The whole vineyard is a little bit under 14 acres—800vines strong. The other day the fellow who is working withme in the vineyard now, he said that the lines of vinesmeasured a little over 5 miles. Isn’t that curious? Maybe wecould make a competition—
How many miles of vines doyou have?
You can have a lot of money and things still won’t go forward. You need leadership,enthusiasm and the ability tobring people into the fold and generate excitement. Without that there’s nothing.