Last weekend, on October 10–12, 2014, a group of bloggers and writers drove up and down the Hudson River Valley searching the region for local flavors in wine, cider, spirits, and even cheese during the sixth edition of TasteCamp. This regionally-focused event, created in 2009 by Lenn Thompson, of the New York Cork Report, also served as a form of kickoff for Drink Local Wine Week, the annual celebration of wine grown…well, just down the road.
It is remarkable to see, year after year, how much wine production has increased, all across North America—and well outside of obvious locations like California. New regions and new producers keep popping up, working to define their own way and taking advantage of a growing wine culture. With dozens of wine producers, the Hudson River Region, as its AVA is officially known, manages to bring distinctive flavors to the table, including some pretty solid Cabernet Franc.
One of the better-established producers is Whitecliff Vineyard and Winery, where owners Michael and Yancey Migliore planted grapes as early as 1979. They now have some 20 varieties planted in their own vineyards, just below the spectacular cliffs that give it its name and label imagery. Michael Migliore, who is also president of the Hudson Valley Wine and Grape Association, works hard to improve the quality of local winegrowing and wine production, and his wines were certainly among the favorites tasted during the TasteCamp weekend. Incidentally, Whitecliff now bottles all its white wines under Nomacorc and is running trials for its red wines as well. He explained, during a tasting, that he had decided to make the change after information obtained through Cornell University’s Cooperative Extension program showed him just how much variation in oxygen ingress happens with natural cork—something that quickly sent him searching for a more reliable solution.
The 2014 TasteCamp program was organized largely by Carlo de Vito, owner of Hudson-Chatham Winery, in Ghent, NY, who is also an active blogger, author, and publisher. His winery certainly has something distinctive to offer with its Baco Noir, a red hybrid grape that has been around for decades and has a small but dedicated following. De Vito bottles no fewer than five different single vineyard cuvées of Baco (all closed under Nomacorc), including a rather unique, Randall Grahm-inspired reserve bottling that used rocks plus toasted oak staves, made from a tree that had fallen on his property, placed directly in the tank. He is also knownfor an Old Vines cuvée drawn from a 60-year-old vineyard, a rarity anywhere in North America. That cuvée is a good way to show that emerging wine regions can sometimes have a longer history than one could imagine.