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WINE COUNTRY TRAVEL

Hudson Valley Harvest

Celebrating Grapes, Hops & Pomes

Debbie Gioquindo, CTC, CSW, WLS

H arvest season is the busiest time of year in the Hudson Valley. Not only is it a critical time for the region’s craft beverage producers, but it’s peak tourism season too. (Make sure you make hotel and restaurant reservations in advance!)

The leaves are changing, the skies are clear, the air is crisp,

and everyone wants to take part in the long-awaited harvest festivities.

Managing the Anticipation

For craft beverage producers, it’s also a season when emotions ride high in anticipation. All of the hard work spent in the fields throughout the year culminates during harvest, and a new chapter begins as fruit is processed for the upcoming vintages.

“The biggest reward is to drive onto the crush pad and see large loads of beautiful fruit, ready to process,” remarks Doug Glorie of Glorie Farm Winery in Marlboro. “You know you’ve done everything you can do, and now you can realize the potential of the fruit. You did it! You pulled it off! Harvest is the crescendo of farming.”

For winemakers, harvest is the short period of time when the ripened grapes reach their optimal sugar content, and are picked, brought to the winery to be crushed and made into wine. Harvest doesn’t happen in just one day—the process begins in September, with its pleasant, warm days and cool evenings, and ends in late October. Sometimes, winemakers can even be seen crushing grapes in mid-November between the early snowfalls.

One of the most frequently asked questions people ask a winemaker is, “When is the right time to pick the grapes?” According to Carlo DeVito, owner of Hudson-Chatham Winery in Ghent, “Nature is the first to tell you. The birds and the deer will try to eat the crop as soon as its ripe.” Winemakers also look at the seeds of the grapes. When the seeds begin turning from green to brown, the time to pick them is not too far off. But the true answer is determined in the lab where the wine- maker tests the grapes for sugar content, acidity, and pH.

“To see those clusters and taste the sunlight in the grapes while you pick them…it is pure joy,” notes Jan Palaggi, owner of Palaia Winery in Highland.

MORE >

is pure joy,” notes Jan Palaggi, owner of Palaia Winery in Highland. MORE > www.hvwinemag.com •
is pure joy,” notes Jan Palaggi, owner of Palaia Winery in Highland. MORE > www.hvwinemag.com •
is pure joy,” notes Jan Palaggi, owner of Palaia Winery in Highland. MORE > www.hvwinemag.com •

www.hvwinemag.com Fall 2016

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Timing is Everything It’s not just grapes that get harvested to be put in the
Timing is Everything It’s not just grapes that get harvested to be put in the

Timing is Everything

It’s not just grapes that get harvested to be put in the bottle for your future enjoyment this time of the year. Apples are harvested for hard cider, vodka, and gin production; grains and corn are gathered for whiskies and spirits; and hops, which are increasingly being grown in the region, are harvested for beer.

Distillers like Harvest Spirits in Valatie rely on their orchard apples to produce vodkas and brandies. “Each variety of apples has its own specific time during the season when it must be picked,” notes owner Derek Grout. “Pick them too early and they don’t have enough color and sweetness. If you pick them too late they may be soft or mealy, or they may just fall off the tree on their own.”

For hops, which grow on trellised bines similar to grape vines, the end of August to the beginning of September is when they ripen. According to Ken Maurer of Dutchess Hops in Lagrangeville, there are several attributes that signal when its time to harvest hops:

1. Texture: if you can squeeze a cone and it stays compressed, it’s not ripe enough. It should be springy, dry, and have a papery feel to it.

2. Appearance: growers look for the visible, thick yellow residue called lupulin between the leaves of the cone.

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When hops are ripe, the bines are cut down and the cones are then plucked by hand. Dutchess Hops celebrates the season with an annual hops festival called “Hoptember,” which features local beers, ciders, and hoppy foods such as hop fries and hop-smoked brisket. When you take a trip to wine country during harvest season, you never know what you will stumble upon, learn about , or be a part of!

Stomping Through the Region

There is nothing like participating in a harvest of any kind. It’s hard work, fun and rewarding. At Christopher Jacobs Winery in Pine Bush, it’s all hands on deck for their Harvest Festival. Volunteer grape pickers are rewarded with a ticket for each binful of grapes they harvest. Tickets can be exchanged for picnic items and wine to be enjoyed at the end of the day. Clermont Vineyards and Winery in Germantown welcomes willing pickers to help harvest their estate-grown grapes on certain Sundays during the season. It’s a tough task with an early start time, but pickers are rewarded with a bountiful meal afterwards. Demarest Hill Winery in Warwick has a harvest every Sunday in September, with a feast to follow. Since harvesting depends on the weather, be sure to check each winery’s website or Facebook page for more information.

Many wineries will also allow you to visit the crush pad while visiting in the fall. There, you can see the grapes being processed first-hand before they become next year’s bottled reds and whites. And, if you want to take part in grape stomping, visit Brotherhood Winery in Washingtonville on weekends through October for their Grape Stomping festival.

stomping, visit Brotherhood Winery in Washingtonville on weekends through October for their Grape Stomping festival.
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Download Our APP 2006-2016 Robibero Winery in New Paltz and Benmarl Winery in
Download Our APP 2006-2016 Robibero Winery in New Paltz and Benmarl Winery in

Robibero Winery in New Paltz and Benmarl Winery in Marlboro also host Grape Stomping festivals in the fall. Check their websites for dates and times. In Highland Mills, Palaia Winery’s Harvest Festival has grape stomping, pumpkin decorating, hayrides through the vineyard, and bands on their outdoor stage. There are local vendors, wine, beer, food, cider, and donuts for the kids, too.

Apple picking opportunities also abound in the Hudson Valley. There is nothing like eating a fresh apple right off the tree, not to mention the applesauce and apple pie you can make with them once you get home. There are dozens of U-pick farms and farm markets throughout the region that offer fresh-pressed cider and donuts, as well as other just-picked produce. Visit Golden Harvest Farms, home to Harvest Spirits, or the orchards at Warwick Valley Winery and Applewood Winery (both in Warwick), where after U-picking you can lay down a blanket and picnic on the grounds while enjoying live music and the festive atmosphere.

while enjoying live music and the festive atmosphere. Good, Clean Fun Even if you don’t want
Good, Clean Fun Even if you don’t want to get your hands dirty, there are
Good, Clean Fun
Even if you don’t want to get your hands dirty, there are many
other types of celebrations to take part in throughout the
season. Stop in at Hillrock Estate Distillery in Ancram for
their Open House where you can tour the distillery and taste
newly-released spirits while soaking in the foliage. The Annual
Harvest Party at Millbrook Vineyards & Winery sells out
quickly so be sure to get tickets in advance for this exclusive
farm-to-table/farm-to-glass experience.
In early October, don’t miss Goold Orchard’s 28th Annual
Apple Festival in Castleton. It’s a family-friendly celebration
that includes a New Yo rk wine tent offering products including
Brookview Station Winery’s wines and ciders made from
estate-grown apples and grapes.
Make a weekend of it and head to Bethel Woods Center for
the Arts in Bethel for their Harvest Festivals (on Sundays in
September) which feature a farm market, craft village, and
plenty of activities for kids. Celebrate wine from the vine at the
Annual Wine Festival, or quench your thirst at the Annual Craft
Beer Festival, a fun-filled day to sample beer and cider from a
variety of producers from across the region, and one of the
largest beer festivals around. Then mark your calendar for the
Crown Maple Fall Festival and the Hudson Valley Wine Tasting
held later in October at Madava Farms in Dover Plains, where
you can take in the spectacular foliage on their maple estate
while sampling the fall bounty.
No matter how you celebrate the season, remember there’s
only one harvest each year—don’t miss it!
— LP

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