Your guide to all of the Hudson Valley’s best vineyards, because New York State knows a thing or two about wine!
Two years ago, I started one of the best traditions I’ve ever concocted: a monthly Catskills climb-then-wine trip. Yes, it’s as fabulous as it sounds.
Climb a Catskills mountain.
Unwind at a Hudson Valley winery.
My friend and I stick pretty steady to this monthly tradition (despite the typical hiccups that come with being a travel writer – traveling), and throughout our Hudson Valley winery “research” we’ve uncovered a few gems, a few “mehs” and plenty of friendly Catskills residents along the way.
Whether you’re preparing to launch your own climb-then-wine Catskills tradition, or you’re just looking for a good Hudson Valley winery, here are six of my favorite picks.
An aside, most of these wineries are located along the Shawangunk Wine Trail, which lies between NYC and the Catskills. Because I drive, I limit myself to one glass and a full stomach.
Last aside, I’m not a wine connoisseur by any means – I’m basing these choices off overall vibe and friendliness, because I really do love most wines!
And now, back to your regular programming … the best of New York’s Catskills and Shawangunk wineries!
I know, I know. I bring Benmarl up alllll the time, but it’s just so good! It has a soft spot in my heart because it’s the first Catskills winery my friend Maggie and I visited. AKA, it was the birthplace of our amazing tradition!
But it’s more than just nostalgia; the vibe here is relaxed and the views are insane. The main bar room has a huge window overlooking the Hudson River, and the view turns into a perfectly colored painting when fall foliage hits. You can do a wine tasting, order a glass or fill up on some homemade woodfire pizza … or a mix of all three. No matter what you do, at Benmarl, you won’t go wrong!
Located in the northern Catskills, Windham Vineyard is peaceful and charming, with welcoming staff (who also welcome dogs!) and cozy interior and exterior facilities. My boyfriend, dog and I visited during a Catskills weekend getaway, and tried a sampler of pretty much every wine Windham Vineyard had to offer.
The result? We loved it! In fact, we ended up staying for seconds…
When we hit up Baldwin Vineyards post-summer hike, we anticipated a typical glass of grape goodness before heading on our way home – but we were so, so wrong. And in this case, being wrong was wonderful.
We just so happened to stumble upon Baldwin’s annual Strawberry, Chocolate and Wine Festival. As in … lots of strawberries (and strawberry desserts). Tons of chocolate (ehrmahgerddd). And not just wine – WINE SLUSHIES. We enjoyed our taste of heaven alongside the vineyard’s pond with the sun beating down on our already sore post-hike bodies. It was perhaps the best way to celebrate a big climb, and therefore, definitely a vineyard I’d recommend you visit (climb or not).
While most of the Catskills and Shawangunk wineries we visit are small – making for great one-on-one time with the owners – Brotherhood is a quite different experience. It’s a huge warehouse-style space with multiple bars offering tasters, but only at specific times. The visit is much more structured, and in our case on a Sunday, it was a bit crowded, but it dubs itself “America’s Oldest Winery,” so it’s worth at least checking out. (Oh, and perhaps most importantly, wine here is top notch.)
With most vineyards, we visit once then move onto the next, but for some reason, we find ourselves back at Palaia time after time. Half of that has to do with the fact Palaia is conveniently located right along I-87 on our route home from the Catskills. The other half? This place is pretty “rad.”
Palaia has a hippy vibe – or “mojo” as they call it – with wines named after iconic rockers like Led Zeppelin. The staffers are laid back and friendly.
Beware though, fellow drivers, as bartenders do give you heavy pours. If you share with a friend (or limit yourself to half a glass), you should be fine. (But remember, make sure to eat first – especially if you’ve been hiking!) Visit in the summer for fun outdoor festivals and live music.
We lucked out on our trip to Stoutridge Vineyard with complete one-on-one time with the owner. We arrived right at closing, just in time to try tasty samples while learning the vineyard’s unique point of difference.
The Stoutridge team is very careful in their winemaking process, avoiding typically used harsh chemicals while opting to use fermentation as the only part of the winemaking process. As the website notes:
“During their normal metabolisms, yeast and bacteria do more than convert sugar and acids into alcohol and carbon dioxide. By careful utilization of biological components we can cause the desired chemical changes in the wine to occur without applying harsher chemical methods. The result is a wine which retains more of the balance, flavor and complexity that is found in nature.”
The Stoutridge method works; from whites to reds, every wine had a distinctively different taste than we’re used to – and by different, I mean delicious, because this wine was super “clean.” They also have a distillery, so there’s a little something for everyone (as long as you like whiskey or wine).
Of course, this is just the start to all the delicious wines the Hudson Valley has to offer. If you’ve visited any wineries or vineyards you’d recommend, please share in the comments below.
Need ideas for your next New York State getaway? Click here for my Catskills weekend guide.