Brimstone Hill is among the older Hudson Valley vineyards and wineries. The vineyard dates back to 1969 when Richard and Valerie Eldridge planted some 20 varieties of “French hybrid” grapes on approximately a half acre of sloping land.In the 1970s the Eldridge vineyards expanded to about three to four acres of grapes. The decision to try a small winery was made in 1978–79, a time period when there was considerable interest in establishing smaller wineries throughout the Hudson Valley. There was much to learn then about appropriate grape varieties, wine types, and winemaking techniques for this region.
Dry Rosé returns to Brimstone with a limited release of their 2017 Premium Rosé made from estate-grown Chambourcin and Chancellor grapes. Fermented on their skins for an extended period of time, the grapes not only provide great color but add structured tannins to the wine as well. Dry and delightful.
Initially, the French-American hybrid grape varietals seemed to be the most appropriate for better wines. But as the 1980s progressed some of the traditional European vitis vinifera varieties showed considerable promise. Then, as Cornell University’s renown College of Agriculture and Life Sciences became more focused on growing higher quality wine grape varieties, some of their interspecific hybrid varieties began to blossom in the Hudson Valley. Brimstone Hill has worked with all of these categorical groupings in a strong effort to make distinctive regional wines, which they are proud of.
Throughout the years, their vineyards have expanded considerably. They now have about 10 acres producing, and about three to four acres which are not yet in production. One of the pioneering ventures they are very proud of is the development of a sparkling wine, which is made in the tradition of the French champagnes. Current production is between 7,500 and 10,000 bottles per year.
Brimstone consistently wins awards from the competitions they enter, including medals from the prestigious Finger Lakes International for their 2016 Noiret and 2017 Cayuga White. Despite their many years of success, Brimstone Hill still likes to consider itself a small, experimental vineyard dedicated to exploring how to produce wines with a French character here in the Hudson Valley.
This New York State red grape was developed by Cornell. It produces a very high-quality red wine with good tannins and overtones of black pepper. Noiret picks up an added richness when it is aged in oak barrels, and it accompanies most foods very well. It has proven to be very popular in the tasting room.
Cabernet Franc was almost unknown in Eastern winemaking and viticultural circles, but it has developed a steady and growing following among our customers over the past 30 years. At Cornell it has proven to be the most winter hardy of the traditional European wine grape varieties, and it is reasonably disease-resistant. At Brimstone Hill, Cabernet Franc is vinified along the lines of the Loire Valley Cabernet Franc wines. It is excellent with red meats, and it accompanies pasta dishes nicely.
A semi-sweet wine with a delicate flavor and aroma, and overtones of pear. Cayuga White is a great sipping wine on a hot summer afternoon, and it goes well with fruits and other desserts. It is their most popular wine, year in and year out.
Brimstone Hill’s sparkling wine is a light dry (brut) sparkler made in the full Méthode Champenoise tradition. This means that the second fermentation occurs in the bottle. It is a great wine to have with any celebration.
New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas Day
Richard Eldridge, owner and winemaker, stumbled into wine through marriage to the late Valerie de Bourmont, who grew up in an extended French winemaking family in the Loire Valley. The Eldridges became fascinated with the possibilities of growing and making very good wines with an Old World character in the Hudson Valley, at a time when few were seriously considering the region as a wine destination.
The winemaking process in the Hudson Valley is much more challenging than in other regions largely due to the climatic conditions. Grapes tend to be higher in acidity and lower in sugar than their California counterparts. But the higher acidity does have a major advantage in making both sweeter wines and sparkling wines. The drier table wines tend to be on the lighter side with a certain zesty quality. By acknowledging and working with the specific challenges of the terroir, Eldridge continues to make wines that highlight the spirit and character of the Hudson Valley.