Before leaving Benmarl, we were told that we should visit Stoutridge Vineyard, just a few miles away, in Marlboro, New York. He’s doing some pretty interesting things with his wine making techniques, suggested Wendy, Benmarl’s wine events coordinator. And so, with less than 30 minutes to go before Stoutridge was due to close, we hopped in the car and left.
Upon entering the vacant tasting room, we asked a woman behind the counter if they were still open for tastings, and she replied, Of course! Look for a tall crazy red haired man, and he’ll help you out. And so, drawn to the distillery located behind plate glass, Carlos and I closed in for a closer look where we found the owner Stephen Osborn (who owns and runs the winery with his chemist wife, Kimberly Wagner) exiting the immaculately lit barrel room (as seen above), eager give a tour and talk.
As he led us up the stairs for a birds-eye view of the distillery (where German distillers produce brandy, whisky, and vodka), Osborn exuded enough enthusiasm to generate the place, while sharing his experiences, practices, and theories about making wine.
Built into the hillside (the site of the pre-prohibition era, Morano Winery, 1902-1919), the winery at Stoutridge Vineyard strives for (and achieves) a low impact on the environment, while producing Slow Wines. Because the Barrel Room is located underground, it takes less energy to heat or cool, and the solar panels that cover the rooftop produce more electricity than the infrastructure can use.
With such innovative (or perhaps archaic) techniques as reduced filtering (sediments act as a natural preserver, which means fewer or no sulfites are added to each bottle of wine) and gravity tanks (which can be operated by one person, and eliminates the need for flavor-altering, energy consuming pumps), the owners of Stoutridge aim to sustain one of the greenest wineries nationwide. By selling their wine only on site, Osborn and Wagner hope to promote a new kind of eco-tourism that supports local agriculture as much as they do, as they use only local grapes to make their wines.
In 2006, Stoutridge’s first year in production here, they made 1000 cases of wine, hoping to capture the fruits’ natural essence by employing minimal impact processing techniques to yield wines that are light but complex.
The first of their wines that we sampled was the 2006 Hudson Heritage White, which is 85% Seyval Blanc–a highly acidic grape that Stoutridge balances with pectin (and not sugar), to produce a light straw colored wine. With hints of toast and nut on the nose, this wine possessed little to no alcohol flavor, despite its 12% alcohol content. Smooth, fresh, crisp, and light, with a toasty palate, the Hudson Heritage is a refreshing summer wine.
Next was the Quinby’s Rosé, named after the 80 year “young” local farmer who produces the grapes used in this wine. Depicted in the photograph above, in the hands of Stephen Osborn, Howard Quimby grows the same grapes that his father grew 100 years ago, and still employs a mule to farm. Made from 90% Niagara grapes (a cross-breed of Concord and Cassady), this wine possessed grape juice on the nose and palate, but was surprisingly dry. Low in alcohol, this wine was a little too Welch-like for me, but others who like fruity dry wines might think differently.
The last of the Stoutridge wines was the Vino Fino, named after the farmer Richard Fino, who–you guessed it–grows the grapes used to produce this red wine. Deep red with bits of apple and clove on the nose, the Vino Fino was fruity and tart, (I want to write like sour cherry, but at the time it was more like green apple). Finishing light, like a white wine, this unfined and unfiltered wine is 50% Frontenac and 50% DeChaunac (both French-American hybrids); and though I preferred the Hudson Heritage, I look forward to revisiting and tasting what Stoutridge produces next.