The Hudson Valley is quickly gaining a reputation as a destination for inspired, locally made craft beverages. From beer to bourbon, innovative producers are making a little bit of everything using time-honored, hand-crafted techniques and New York State ingredients. Our breweries, cideries, vintners, and distilleries are receiving awards across the country for their outstanding quality and attention to detail. With producers opening all the time, there’s always something new to try in the Hudson Valley.
One of the best ways to taste the region’s terroir is by traversing the Shawangunk Wine Trail. Stretching over 80 miles, the trail includes a diverse group of 15 small-to-medium size wineries, all family owned and operated. Be sure to try the varietals that make Hudson Valley wine unique, like Seyval Blanc for a light white with a tart, minerally finish, or the local expression of Cabernet Franc, which balances bright candied apple with an earthy finish. Be sure not to miss Whitecliff Vineyards, opened almost 40 years ago in New Paltz. Whitecliff was named for the stunning beauty of the Shawangunk Ridge, visible from the deck outside the vineyards tasting room. Their award-winning Traminette reflects the region’s Alsace-like climate, drinking clean and crisp with just a hint of lychee-like sweetness. While the region has plenty of great wine, there are dozens of incredible distillers as well.
In many ways, Gardiner’s Tuthilltown Distillery helped kick off the craft beverage explosion in New York. Ralph Erenzo and his team helped amend legislation to become the first new whiskey distillery since Prohibition, opening their doors in 2005. Since then, they’ve been joined by some truly passionate operations. Warwick Valley Winery & Distillery and Dutch’s Spirits stand out as two visit-worthy destinations. Dutch’s Spirits’ storied history includes bootleggers and secret tunnels during Prohibition, and it takes its name from the mobster Dutch Schultz. The three-story barn built on the original footprint of the bootlegging operation offers New York State farm products, a tasting room with over 75 state-produced liquors, and Sugar Wash Moonshine, a hand-crafted tribute to Schultz’s liquor with notes of cut grass and butterscotch. Warwick Valley Winery & Distillery offers wine, cider, and spirits made with local ingredients you can sample from the patio overlooking the orchard. Their award-winning Doc’s Draft cider helped kick start cider production in the region. The original off-dry apple cider is now joined by raspberry, cherry, and even cassis.
Warwick Valley Winery & Distillery isn’t the only great cidery in the region. They’ve recently been joined by acclaimed cider producer Angry Orchard, which began production in 2015 on a 60-acre orchard in Walden. Along with its more famous varieties, Angry Orchard is offering visitors specialty concoctions made on-site at the tasting room. Try the Old Fashioned for something truly decadent. It’s made with a blend of five different apples aged in oak with bourbon barrel staves, orange peel, and dried cherry.
Not to be outdone, brewers in the area are making a name for themselves as well. In Livingston, Suarez Family Brewery is getting attention for subtle beers with laser-like attention to quality. Dan Suarez earned his pedigree at renowned breweries like Sixpoint and Hill Farmstead, and channels his experience into surprising offerings like Triangular Nature, a mixed-fermentation saison made with buckwheat. The tasting room draws visitors from across the Northeast who step into the clean, sun-drenched space to see what Suarez came up with.
With the passion and creativity of the region’s producers, there’s no better place for craft beverages. Whether you prefer beer, wine, or whiskey, you’ll find a great one made right here in the Hudson Valley.