Peripheral Natural Wine Festival Returns October 30 | Culinary Events | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine
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Peripheral Natural Wine Festival Returns October 30 

For Less than the Price of One Bottle of Wine You Can Sample Over 200+ Artisanal Products Straight from the Makers

Last Updated: 10/26/2021 6:20 pm
click to enlarge DAMON JACOBY
  • Damon Jacoby

When Zak Pelaccio launched the Peripheral Natural Wine Festival in Hudson back in November 2016, the wine landscape was very different. Natural wine was much more, well, on the periphery—at least upstate. This was before there was a handful of local producers making natural wine, and certainly before there were over a dozen shops in the region dedicated to highlighting it. Pelaccio’s award-winning Fish & Game was one of the earliest restaurants to introduce low-intervention vintages to the Hudson Valley, and the festival, by extension, became a way to champion them to a broader audience.


Six years after the inaugural event, Fish & Game is no more and pet nat and glou glou are part of the regular rotation in many households—it’s a different moment, shaped in no small part by the festival itself. Peripheral returns on Saturday, October 30 for another formative afternoon of tasting and talking with natural wine makers. “The festival was part of swelling the awareness of natural wine in the Hudson Valley. We wanted to showcase that in a bigger way than a wine list at a restaurant,” says sommelier Lila Holland, who formerly ran the wine program at Fish & Game and who has produced the festival since 2017. “Now, the purpose is not to introduce natural wine so much as to highlight makers. And it’s a way to invite our favorite local chefs to participate as food vendors. It’s really a celebration of the community that has grown here around natural wine.”
click to enlarge Zak Pelaccio and one of the winemakers. - DAMON JACOBY
  • Damon Jacoby
  • Zak Pelaccio and one of the winemakers.

An example of that growing community is relative newcomer Kitty’s (and its sister natty wine shop, Grapefruit), which will host this year’s outdoor event after a multi-year run at Backbar. “Kitty’s has come into Hudson with such a wonderful spirit,” Holland says. “They are already so supportive of the natural wine scene up here. They’ve given this boost of new energy to the scene and vibe. Having the festival here was a way for us to work with a different crew to try and see what it feels like to do it in a different space.”


Given the pandemic travel restrictions still in place, the festival organizers took this year as an opportunity to bring the focus closer to home. “In the past, most producers were coming from Europe and beyond, like from Georgia,” Holland says. “This year, they are almost entirely domestic with many, many New York State producers, which is a great way to call attention to the fact that this has blown up in the States.”


Peripheral is one of the only wine fairs that is free for producers to participate in, making it accessible to outfits both new and small, established and extensive. “The point is to promote these makers, spread awareness, and get them a bigger audience so they can continue to do what they do,” Holland says. This year, there will be more than 200 products available to taste. And not just wines—there will also be ciders, vermouths, amari, liqueurs, and even a traditional Korean rice wine made by Brooklyn-based Hana Makgeolli. (See the full lineup here).

DAMON JACOBY
  • Damon Jacoby

All the products showcased are naturally fermented with an emphasis on minimal intervention in both field and cellar, but regarding a specific rubric for assessing participants, Holland is non-committal. “If you start focusing single-mindedly on ‘rules of production,’ you lose track of process and progress,” she says, favoring instead a more holistic, humanistic approach. “When you have a loose term like natural wine, if you are also thoughtful, it actually requires a lot more effort than if you just have a list of boxes to check off,” she says. “You can check all those boxes and still have a problematic producer, but if you are really focusing on the big picture of each maker and how and why they do what they do, you can find a product with a lot more integrity.”


The Peripheral Wine Festival kicks off at noon on Saturday in a festival tent next to Kitty’s. A $45 ticket gives you unlimited tastings. Upon entry (and vax card checking), you’ll get a tasting booklet with info about the producers and a suggested flow for moving through the booths. “If you do it how we’ve plotted, you’ll start with ciders and beers, then move through wine, and end up with things like vermouth and cassis,” Holland says.

click to enlarge DAMON JACOBY
  • Damon Jacoby

At 2pm, head to the Kitty’s backyard next door for a panel discussion around the “rules” of natural wine and their limitations for guiding thoughtful wine making, moderated by wine shop owner, writer, and advanced som Christy Frank. The panelists are Lee Campbell, wine consultant and estate representative for Early Mountain Vineyards; Tara Hammond, co-founder of Black Lamb Wine; Hank Beckmeyer, farmer and winemaker at La Clarine Farm; Wheeler, a wine-loving Taurus who came to fame at Lil’ Deb’s Oasis; and Lucy Saintcyr, sommelier and founder of Supper Collective.


Since the beginning, one of the goals of the festival has been to provide a laid back, fun space for makers to get to know each other—to try each other’s product, swap tips and techniques, and talk shop. “It was on the same weekend as the Raw Wine Festival in the city, which is a big fair that can be really overwhelming,” Holland says. “It was sort of conceived as a way to get all these people that are already in New York up to the Hudson Valley to experience a smaller, more chill fair.” To that end, festivities will kick off on Friday night at 8pm at Lawrence Park with a welcome party that is free and open to the public. And following the festival, there will be an dj’ed after party at The Half Moon on Saturday evening from 6pm onward with pizza, beer, gin, and kombucha.

click to enlarge DAMON JACOBY
  • Damon Jacoby

Peripheral will take place at Kitty’s on October 30 from 12-5pm. Tickets are available for purchase online and cost $45 in advance and $50 at the door. Admission includes a keepsake tasting booklet with a wine map of where to buy and drink natural wines throughout the Hudson Valley and the Berkshires.


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