Your Roadmap to the Hudson Valley Wine Scene

New York's Hudson Valley has become a rustic haven for city-dwellers and nature lovers alike. Take a look at the iconic region's wine shops, bars and producers.
Left: Backbar in Hudson / Photo by Chris Harder; Right: Brunette in Kingston / Photo courtesy Brunette

Believe it or not, there’s more to New York than Manhattan (and no, not just Brooklyn). More than 50,000 square miles prime for exploration sits just beyond the iconic city skyline.

Accessible from New York City by train or car, the greater Hudson Valley is equal parts mountain terrain and pastoral landscape. It spans seven to 11 counties—depending who you ask—and has become beloved by restaurateurs and farm-to-table chefs for its fresh produce, pasture-raised meats and agricultural products.

The area also has a history of wine production, as a mosaic of new and old vineyards populate each side of the valley’s eponymous river. And with a recent rise in tourism and culinary options throughout the region, a host of boutique wine bars and bottle shops have taken root, too. They provide plenty of vinous fodder as you travel north.

Here’s your roadmap to some of the best that New York’s Hudson Valley has to offer.

Wine Bars

You can’t lose at these bars, each uniquely woven into their communities and the surrounding Hudson Valley locale.

Boro6, Hastings-on-Hudson

This is the first gem you’ll find if you travel north from New York City. It maintains a devoted crowd of locals, with a vibe reminiscent of a European enoteca, and a menu that showcases the region’s seasonal ingredients. The wine list, with approximately 40 pours by the glass, half-bottle options and a number of library choices, highlights local and global selections. It’s everything you’d expect from its two powerhouse owners, Paul Molakides, a Danny Meyer alum, and his wife, Jennifer Aaronson, culinary director of the meal-kit service Martha & Marley Spoon, who served previously as editorial director of food and entertaining at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia.

Barber & Brew, Cold Spring / Photo by James Caroll
Barber & Brew, Cold Spring / Photo by James Caroll

Barber & Brew, Cold Spring

Barber & Brew, as the name implies, is half old-school barber shop and half beer bar with a compact wine list. It may sound weird, but this hybrid pulls it off. The door opens to  characteristic blue- and red- striped poles, a pristine wood counter lined with various grooming accoutrements and two leather barber chairs. Walk to the back of the establishment, however, and you’ll discover a low-lit, brick and black-metal furnished bar, 10 mostly local taps and a menu of elevated takes on pub food. Wines here are mostly international, though U.S. options are known to appear. The options cater to a range of tastes, with past menus have featured offerings from Quattro Mani Montepulciano to unfiltered sparkling rosé from the Finger Lakes.

Dinner and wine options at di’Vine Wine Bar, Wappingers Falls
di’Vine Wine Bar, Wappingers Falls / Photo courtesy Bold Creations

di’Vine Wine Bar, Wappingers Falls

Di’Vine is a two-story wine bar situated on top of a waterfall. The couch-lined lounge and glass-railing patio are perfect to take in the scenery. Live music is featured regularly as well. The wine list, while simple, features delicious selections curated by owners Casey McCall, Steve McCall, Christine Barnes and Scott Pietras. Small plates, which include several gluten-free options, flatbreads and fondue, change often enough to keep regulars interested.

Bottles on display at Brunette, Kingston / Photo courtesy Brunette
Bottles on display at Brunette, Kingston / Photo courtesy Brunette

Brunette, Kingston

Owners Jamie and Tracy Kennard renovated this space for four months in the Waterfront district of downtown Kingston before it opened in 2015. In addition to boasting an Instagram-worthy interior, Brunette has an outstanding minimal-intervention, natural-wine program, and offers standout service. The Kennards seek small, passionate producers, and purchase bottles in small quantities to ensure the list is constantly rotating. The menu describes the wines with offbeat musings (expect references to The Breakfast Club), and offers meat- and cheese-driven snacks.

The front bar of BackBar, Hudson / Photo by Chris Harder
The front bar of BackBar, Hudson / Photo by Chris Harder

BackBar, Hudson

Co-owned by chef Zak Pelaccio of Fish & Game, a Wine Enthusiast Top 100 Wine Restaurant, this Warren Street spot features a focused list of minimal-intervention wines alongside local beer options and cocktails. The food menu is a drastic departure from that served at Pelaccio’s full restaurant. It features Southeast Asian-inspired small plates like cumin lamb dumplings, green papaya salad and a variety of noodle bowls. It also hosts the annual Peripheral Wine Festival, a natural wine-tasting event.

The bar at Lucas Confectionery / Photo by Corey Mitchell
The bar at Lucas Confectionery / Photo by Corey Mitchell

Lucas Confectionery, Troy

Industrial, collegiate Troy is on the upper border of what many consider the Hudson Valley. The city’s historic brick architecture was a particular draw for Heather LaVine, Lucas Confectionery’s co-owner and wine buyer since 2013. Since 2012, LaVine and fellow co-owner Vic Christopher have helped create a natural wine haven on downtown Congress Street. A neighborhood hangout, it offers approximately 20 natural wines by the glass, as well as a sizeable bottle list, beers, ciders, spritzes and locally made kombucha. A vegetable-focused menu changes with the seasons and often offers discounted wine and snack pairings. The atmosphere is relaxed and convivial, and the venue also hosts events like bar takeovers, ticketed dinners and winemaker tastings.

Whimsy on display at Flowercup Wine
Whimsy on display at Flowercup Wine

Bottle Shops

There’s nothing like a well-stocked wine shop with knowledgeable staff you can trust. These stores have everything you could want: a variety of styles, intriguing bottlings at a range of price points and educated, friendly staff.

Flowercup Wine, Cold Spring

Cold Spring is a quirky marriage of white-picket-fence-America and Brooklynite tourist destination. It’s why Eliza Starbuck and Eric Wirth decided to open their shop here in the spring of 2017. With a focus on natural offerings, the owners taste more than 1,000 wines a year. Shelf talkers inform shoppers where the wine is from, how it’s produced and flavor descriptions in both words and pictures. A guided tasting with varying themes is held each Friday evening. It’s also worth visiting nearby Cold Spring Cheese Shop, which works with Flowercup to create specialty pairings.

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Artisan Wine Shop, Beacon

Established in 2006 by Culinary Institute of America graduates Mei Ying So and Tim Buzinski, Artisan Wine Shop focuses on small producers and wines that are organic, biodynamic and low-intervention. The store is organized by flavor profile—lush, medium-bodied reds, crisp whites, etc.—with wooden bins of bargain wines featured in the middle of the shop. A kitchen prepares bites to pair with bottles. Tastings are held each Friday evening and Saturday afternoon, where wines are marked down 10%.

Viscount Wines & Liquor, Wappingers Falls

It’s hard to dispute this shop’s claim to be the largest wine/liquor retailer in the Hudson Valley. Roughly 12,000 bottles can be found at this Route 9 mecca, though quantity is just one aspect of what makes it noteworthy. The depth and range are excellent, as is the store being open seven days a week, which is uncommon for the area. The winning factor, however, is its ability to appeal to those who look for a quality bottle for under $15, as well as connoisseurs seeking something collectible for their cellars.

Kingston Wine Co., Kingston / Photo courtesy Bayly & Moore
Kingston Wine Co., Kingston / Photo courtesy Bayly & Moore

Kingston Wine Co., Kingston

This Ulster County favorite is perhaps the best-known wine outpost in the Hudson Valley, and for good reason. Owner Michael Drapkin’s career has ranged from farming in France, a decade of retail experience as a wine buyer and a brief stint at New York City’s Balthazar. The sun-drenched shop is tidy, and minimalist shelving holds low-intervention wines organized by country that bear handwritten, descriptive tags that are as down to earth as Drapkin himself. A long wooden table holds bottles under $17.

Left: State of the art shelving system at Reed Street Bottle Shop, Coxsackie; Right: Reed Street owners Shai Kessler and Susan Baldaserini
Left: State of the art shelving system at Reed Street Bottle Shop, Coxsackie; Right: Reed Street owners Shai Kessler and Susan Baldaserini

Reed Street Bottle Shop, Coxsackie

“Wine, Spirits, Frivolity,” is the motto at this shop on the main drag of this small town. It describes the mindset of owners Susan Baldaserini and Shai Kessler perfectly, who moved to the area from Brooklyn over two years ago. The store stocks approximately 275 wines and 80 liquors, with a nod toward natural producers and bottles priced $12 and under. What makes Reed Street special, however, is its connection to the community. Wine tastings are held in conjunction with the town’s seasonal farmers’ market, and it has built relationships with both customers and local wineries. Stop here and you’re sure to leave with new friends.

22 2nd Street Wine Co., Troy / Photo by Corey Mitchell
22 2nd Street Wine Co., Troy / Photo by Corey Mitchell

22 2nd Street Wine Co., Troy

Part of Congress Street’s natural wine scene, this shop is co-owned by Lucas Confectionary’s LaVine. All the bottles offered are organically farmed and fermented with native yeasts, and all fall in the natural wine category. The selection is in constant rotation, as 30–50 new bottles hit shelves each month, dependent on the time of year. The staff is accommodating, caring and knowledgeable, ensuring you get the perfect bottle. LaVine’s adorable dog, Charlie, is usually hanging around five days a week.

Meet the locals at Benmarl Winery, Malboro / Photo courtesy Benmarl Winery
Meet the locals at Benmarl Winery, Malboro / Photo courtesy Benmarl Winery

Local Wineries

Get your head out of your glass and venture to these Hudson Valley wineries, known to be great hangout spots perfect for photo ops.

Benmarl Winery, Malboro

The first licensed farm winery in New York, Benmarl’s estate stretches across nearly 40 scenic acres of Ulster County. Its main buildings sit at the top of the property, affording breathtaking views of the sprawling vines and forest below. Not surprisingly, it’s a premier wedding destination, but it’s also an excellent place to while away any day. Tastings are ultra-affordable—just $10 for six wines of your choice—and the winery serves wood-fired pizzas as well as selections from a small bakery onsite. Live music and festivals are commonplace throughout the year.

See the oldest licensed winery in America at Brotherhood Winery, Washingtonville / Photo courtesy John Kidd Photography
See the oldest licensed winery in America at Brotherhood Winery, Washingtonville / Photo courtesy John Kidd Photography

Brotherhood Winery, Washingtonville

The regal stone buildings here make for another sought-after wedding venue. The Grand Salon, its event space, could charm most anyone. Brotherhood also has the distinction of being America’s oldest continuously operating winery, and its history is a big draw here. Guided tours of the underground cellars, a vast network that remains largely unchanged from its original design, are available year-round. Tastings are only $10, and there’s even an option to try pours from Brotherhood’s sister winery in Chile.

Clinton Vineyards, Clinton Corners

Clinton Vineyards’ 100-acre property features intriguing statues, a rustic Dutch farmhouse that serves as the tasting room and a beautiful lawn that demands a picnic blanket. Open seasonally to the public, there are a variety of tasting options tailored to specific themes like The French Connection, which features Jubilee Méthodé Champenoise, Sevyl Blanc and Cassis. Choose your favorite, and head outside with a bottle and a picnic basket. Alternatively, opt for The Royale tasting, led by owner Phyllis Feder, which comes with a selection of local cheese and housemade charcuterie. The property is also dog-friendly.

Rustic and modern design come together at Millbrook Vineyards & Winery, Millbrook / Photo courtesy Millbrook Vineyards & Winery
Rustic and modern design come together at Millbrook Vineyards & Winery, Millbrook / Photo courtesy Millbrook Vineyards & Winery

Millbrook Vineyards & Winery, Millbrook

Open year-round, Millbrook offers daily tours and tastings. A two story, Dutch-style building is the center of the action, with the tasting room and shop taking up the majority of the ground level. The second floor houses a lounge where you can order a glass or pop a bottle of your favorite. A patio is open during warmer weather, and is the site of events like Friday Night Food Trucks, the Summer Solstice Lobster Bake and Jazz at the Grille. The site offers a one-mile walking trail. There’s also winemaking bootcamp, a year of seminars that covers everything from planting, pruning and bottling.

Published on January 9, 2019
Topics: Wine Travel
About the Author
Sarah E. Daniels
Associate Editor

Daniels is the former Dining Editor at Hudson Valley magazine who has also written and edited for web-based publications such as Food52 and The Kitchn, and has assisted in food styling and recipe testing for an assortment of cookbooks. Prior to her career in culinary-related media, Daniels spent years as a pastry chef at venues throughout upstate New York and completed the Longhouse Food Scholars program. She has a soft spot for quiche and hiking trails with footbridges, and would be hard-pressed to turn down a glass of Sauvignon Blanc.
Email: sdaniels@wineenthusiast.net
Instagram: @little_honey_dee




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