By: Michelle Morico
The spring is here and students are wondering what is going on outdoors in Dutchess County. We have all heard about the plethora of hiking trails and beautiful parks, but there are also many local wineries that are often overlooked, and for those that are 21, what is more fun than wine tasting on a beautiful day?
The Dutchess Wine Trail consists of Clinton Vineyards and Winery and Millbrook Vineyards and Winery. Both are located only miles away and are in close proximity to one another. The wine trail makes it easy to enjoy a relaxing day taking in the beautiful scenery, while picnicking or dining and enjoying tours and a tasting at local vineyards.
Millbrook Vineyards and Winery has just started their season which will last until November.
“When we’re in season, which is now until November, we have a tour and tasting,” Stacey Held, employee at Millbrook Winery, said. “We start with a tour of the winery and go out to the vineyard to talk about the vineyard itself, its history, and the owner.”
Millbrook is owned by John S. Dyson and sits on a 130-acre estate which produces 12,000 cases of wine per year. The tours are $7 a person, but include a wine and olive oil tasting.
“Eventually, we bring the tour back inside to go through several different rooms that the wine maker utilizes for different purposes in the winery,” Held said. “We talk not only about wine making, but bottling too; the tour is really more about wine education.”
For those into art, Millbrook offers Art in the Loft, which displays seasonal exhibits. According to the Millbrook Vineyards and Winery website, the spring art exhibit lasts from April 24- June 28. This exhibit features Kaete Brittin- Shaw, Amy Farrell, Barbara Koffsky and Margaret Mealia and the opening reception is May 16 from 4:30- 6:30 p.m.
“We end the tour with a run through our art gallery; we have a loft with a running art exhibit that is supported by the Dutchess Art Council, where we feature several artists,” Held said. “We end the tour with a tasting upstairs in our loft where we go through about six wines, three whites and three reds. We end with an olive oil tasting.”
The busiest months at Millbrook are July- October, Held said. Although Millbrook does not offer student rates, they are happy to accommodate large groups.
“If someone were to arrange a large tour group, we will offer a discount or a special package,” Held said.
According to the Millbrook Vineyards and Winery website, “Millbrook is considered one of the top wineries not only of the Hudson River Valley but all of New York State and indeed the eastern seaboard.”
“We specialize in Chardonnay, and our most popular wine is the Tocai Friulano, and that is a northern Italian grape varietal,” Held said. “We are one of six vineyards in the U.S. that grow it. We have five acres of just that grape.”
“The Tocai Friulano is kind of a cult classic,” Held said. “We sell out by October, and it is not released until April…a lot of people wait around for it, it is certainly one of our most popular.”
Held said she stresses the beauty of the surrounding area, and even if you do not love wine, you will love the environment at Millbrook Vineyards and Winery.
“People not only come here for the wine education, but for its beauty. We have breathtaking views of the Hudson Valley, and three man-made reflection ponds.”
Millbrook is hosting the 2009 Bounty on the Hudson this year on August first and second. This is a “huge wine and food festival,” Held said.
There is also a wine education series class offered in June and July by Kevin Zraly. He is culminating his series in August, where attendees will learn about the culmination and blending of red wine.
Phyllis Feder, the co-owner of Clinton Vineyards and Winery stressed the importance of visiting her winery. She said she cannot do it justice through an explanation.
“We offer a self-guided tour of our beautiful property and our winery, and the tasting takes place in the tasting room.”
Visiting the local wineries is approximately a 30 minute drive from Marist College.
“It’s certainly a beautiful place to buy a bottle of wine and have a picnic,” Held said about Millbrook.