Milea Estate Vineyard is a relatively new kid on the block having opened its doors in 2015, but it already has a slew of awards hanging around the necks of its wines. The winery has been an under-the-radar destination for great wine and good times for the past few years, but with its brand new, state-of-the-art tasting room up and running, Milea is reinvigorating the region as the latest must-go destination in Dutchess County.
For an experience that is as impressive as the wines, put a visit to Milea Estate Vineyard on top of your list of tasting room excursions!
The Estate and Tasting Room
Milea Estate Vineyard is owned by Barry Milea, with help from winemaker and vineyard manager, Bruce Tripp, and general manager, Ed Evans. The property was purchased in 1984 by Barry Milea along with his father, Joseph Milea, as a weekend home. Adjoining land, purchased in 2016, became the sprawling estate for the vineyards and tasting room.
“Originally we had planned to build in a different location but when we were clearing the hill for new vines we realized this was the spot our tasting room had to go”, says Evans. “It’s literally built around its surroundings—there are views on three corners boasting mountains and vineyards.” The stately New England-style farmhouse sits upon Milea’s 68 acres—25 acres of which is reclaimed farmland, 12 acres are under cultivation for grapes, and the remainder is woodland. The building is perched on a hill overlooking the vineyard.
The inside of the tasting room has a simplistic, farmhouse feel but with a French bistro twist. Classic details like a sleek pewter bar complete the picture. “The design is all ours,” says Milea. “We believe a comfortable and aesthetically pleasing facility enhances the overall experience.” It doesn’t hurt that the views from the tasting room are some of the best in the region!
The property is designed to be family-friendly, but the tasting room experience is more upscale, suitable for a first date or winery visit with friends. There are plenty of tables inside as well as out, and there is a lawn area for picnics. “Situated on the hilltop overlooking our newly planted vineyard, the tasting room is a visual representation of the terroir of Milea Estate Vineyard,” says Tripp. “We planned this space to be both inviting and elegant so that our guests feel at home and treated as special.”
Eventually heftier fare will be served in the tasting room but they will start out with cheese boards and charcuterie. “We have a tie-in with the Culinary Institute of America”, says Milea.” Our food selections will be adventurous but accessible to everyone. We are really excited to begin work on the outdoor kitchen where we will have cooking classes and wine dinners with celebrity chefs.” Music lovers can also look forward to live music on weekends in the future.
The Wine and Cider
Outside the stunning tasting room, Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc vines are in full view. The estate has an impressive 5.7 acres of Cabernet Franc—one of the largest plantings in the Hudson Valley—so it was important to Milea to become a member of the Hudson Valley Cabernet Franc Coalition. The vines, clones 623, 327 and 214 purchased from Hermann Weimer Nursery, were planted in 2018, but Milea has already garnered attention for their single varietal and Cab Franc rosé made from local grapes that stand up to some of the bigger and older guns in the region.
In addition to Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc, they grow several other vinifera varieties including Pinot Noir, Riesling, Grüner Veltliner, and Blaufränkisch which they’ll use for the production of European-style wines. They also have Noiret and Traminette planted. “We are focused on growing the best fruit possible”, says Tripp. All are grown as sustainably as possible, gravitating towards organic practices.
“K-I-S-S. Keep it simple stupid!”, said Milea when asked about his approach to viticulture and winemaking. “Be meticulous in your care of the land, vines, and production, and pray the rest will follow.” Milea engaged Russell Moss from Cornell as their vineyard consultant in October. “Under his guidance, we are using the least amount of chemicals and herbicides, as well as extending the time period for application”, says Milea. “The vineyard work is mostly done by hand, reducing the impact of machinery. There is a lot of labor involved in weeding and vine maintenance, but our belief is the more organic attention paid to the land and vines, the better the wine.”
The wines are impressive, elegantly-made offerings. “We do our best to make wines balanced, food-friendly and of course, expressive of the fruit and terroir of the Hudson River Region”, says Tripp. The winery makes an array of wines, from Pinot Noir, Proceedo—a sparkling wine made with hybrid and vinifera grapes—Riesling, Chardonnay, Late Harvest Vignoles, and three rosés (Merlot, Cab Franc, and Pinot Noir), among others. “My heritage is Italian. Wine was part of our Sunday dinner and special occasions”, says Milea. “I assimilated wine with joy and it stayed with me.”
Many of these wines have won recent awards. “My favorite is Papa Joe White (a field blend of Vignoles, Riesling, and Seyval)— it won Double Gold at this year’s Hudson Valley Wine & Food Fest”, says Milea. “The wine is named for my 96-year-old father.”
The team will continue to make its customer favorites and in few years will be incorporating some new estate-grown varieties that were planted two years ago. Milea also makes craft ciders from local apples (sweetened with their own culinary apples) that are gaining a lot of recent attention. Read more about Milea’s award-winning ciders here.
While Milea Estate Vineyard might be newer to the scene, they have the Hudson Valley’s viticultural history first in mind, and it certainly will be a huge part of its future. “Our philosophy is to make quality wine in a quality setting that brings you back again and again”, says Evans. “The Hudson Valley is so rich in history, especially when it comes to wine. We want to see the region receive the glory it deserves.”
Visit Milea Estate Vineyard at 450 Hollow Road in Staatsburg, NY.
Check their website for open hours.
Curious about Milea’s ciders? Check out Carrie’s story for The Cork Report.
Photography: Mikhail Lipyanskiy, Lipyanskiy Photo