Spring, summer, and fall are prime time for visiting tasting rooms in the Hudson Valley, but winter is arguably the best time to go. Not only do visitors get treated to sugar-frosted winter views of snow-dusted vineyards, fields, and distant mountains, but come February many businesses roll out the white carpet for visitors with an array of fun events and tastings.
Yes, sipping a beverage in June while strolling through the vineyard or orchard where it was made is idyllic, but winter weather brings a sense of wonder and quiet this time of year. As the grapes and vines rest under a blanket of white, use the opportunity to tuck in and taste the terroir of the Hudson Valley more deeply.
Even if you think you know everything about wine, there’s always more to know. As Luis Fernando Olaverri put it, “wine is the only artwork you can drink.” It changes with the place, the season, the weather, the hands that pick and make it. Learn more at these places which excel in uber-wine-geekery year-round, but especially in the winter when they simply have more time to chat.
Stoutridge Vineyard & Distillery
Open Friday–Sunday, 11am–6pm
10 Ann Kaley Lane, Marlboro
Visitors flock to Stoutridge year-round because every day seems like its own special event there. Each visit is personalized by the winemaker/distiller/owners, Stephen Osborn and Kim Wagner. Their love of the Hudson Valley’s unique terroir is as palpable as the natural wines and spirits they produce. Go for a guided tasting ($10, includes a glass) or book a personalized winery/distillery tour and tasting (call or email for more information). Whether you hang in the lofty tasting room, or if weather permits, venture onto the sprawling patio, you’ll feel the commitment to authenticity and sustainability throughout Stoutridge. Take note of the 100+ native trees and shrubs they’ve planted on the estate, each one a reflection of the Hudson Valley’s history and bounty.
If you want to get a taste of the Hudson Valley’s rich array of local libations, make a beeline for Warwick. The winery is open every day in winter except major holidays, and the on-site Pané Café is open every day except Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Warwick has 120 acres of grounds and orchards, and produces some of the finest local cider, spirits, and wines, while cranking out seriously delicious farm-to-table dishes at the Café. Head to Warwick on the weekends for live music from 2–5pm.
Open Thursday–Sunday, 11am–6pm
241 Albany Post Road, Walden
Angry Orchard wants visitors to learn how cider is grown in the orchard, then made in the cidery. They have two tours available: the $10 Barrel Room Tour, which is a behind-the-scenes exploration of the process that includes a tour of the cellar and a tasting of limited release ciders. Then there’s the $20 Barrely Awake Tour, which starts promptly at 11am. Visitors can learn about the history of the orchard, the importance of cider fruit and apple growing in the region, plus in-depth info on barrel aging. Every tour ends with a tasting of exclusive cider styles. To guarantee a spot, book your tour in advance.
Learning is fun, but so is fun. As George Byron put it, “Let us have wine and women, mirth and laughter… sermons and soda-water the day after.” Below, our favorite places to let loose and warm up as the Hudson Valley snoozes.
The Saratoga Winery
Open Wednesday–Friday, 5–8pm; Saturday–Sunday, 11:30am–7pm
462 Route 29, Saratoga Springs
This family-friendly winery serves up wine with a side of cheese, both literally and metaphorically. One of our favorite stops a little further upstate, go to Saratoga Winery for the wine, wood-fired pizza, and artisanal cheese, and stay for the Thursday trivia, Sundays of live music, pop-up comedy shows, and SINGO (yep, that’s Bingo, with a musical spin) every Wednesday. There are also one-off happenings like line dancing lessons and shopping events. Check the winery’s calendar for the latest.
Hudson-Chatham Winery Troy Tasting Room
Open Tuesday–Sunday, check website for hours
203 River Street, Troy
Hudson-Chatham Winery has three tasting rooms including one at their winery in Ghent, but the tasting room in Troy feels special because the city itself is such a gem (amazing food, shopping, waterfront location, historical architecture). Head there on Saturday and hit the Troy Waterfront Farmers’ Market, held indoors during the winter. If eating and drinking local is your bag, this weekly market has one of the widest arrays of options in the state, featuring 100 local vendors purveying everything from grass-fed beef to artisanal hand soap to hard cider, all produced within 100 miles of Troy. When you swing by the tasting room, you’ll be able to sample Hudson-Chatham’s award-winning wines and locally produced ciders, beers, and spirits, too.
…sipping a beverage in June while strolling through the vineyard or orchard where it was made is idyllic, but winter weather brings a sense of wonder and quiet this time of year.
Robibero is a good time anytime (the wood-fired pizza available on the weekends, even in winter, is delicious), but their special events are legendary for the sheer degree of frivolity they engender. On our calendar: Robibero’s annual Sweet & Sinful Cupcake and Wine Pairing, slated for the weekends of February 8th–9th and 15th–16th. Treat your Valentine to three cupcakes paired with three wines, all for the country-chic price of $21. Buy tickets ahead, because Robibero’s events tend to sell out.
Palaia Winery & Meadery
Open Friday, 12–11pm; Saturday, 11am–11pm; Sunday, 11am–6pm
10 Sweet Clover Road, Highland Mills
Palaia Winery & Meadery’s motto says it all: Good wines, good tunes, good vibes, good foods. Drinks, wine, food and music flow free on the weekends, where visitors from near and far gather for the post-Millennial, yoga-hippie spirit, and Palaia’s aptly named sips. If you’re not too square to be curious about what Strawberry Mead (very berry), Pearl Power (dry, crisp, Chardonnay-adjacent) or Zappa Franc (black pepper boldness, sealed with a red fruit kiss) tastes like, Palaia is likely to be your jam.
Distilleries are also a fantastic source of rarefied learning and down-home fun. A few of our favorite places to unwind when we don’t want to hole up all winter long.
Open Monday–Sunday, 12–5pm
3074 Route 9, Valatie
Harvest Spirits is, as advertised, a farm-to-bottle distillery. Located at the iconic Golden Harvest Farm, it’s where lucky apples get reincarnated into vodka, applejack, and brandy. All of the locally-grown fruit (about 600,000 pounds per year) gets distilled in their 150-gallon kettle. Curious to learn how? Swing by for a visit. The friendly staff—and owners—are happy to walk you through the process, and their delicious line of beverages.
Orange County Distillery at Brown Barn Farms
Open Thursday–Friday 4–10 pm; Saturday 12–10pm; Sunday 12–7pm
286 Maple Avenue, New Hampton
The folks at the Orange County Distillery want to slake your thirst and curiosity, but they also want to entertain you. From family-friendly pizza nights, to barn dinners, to master mixology courses, to yoga and cocktails, and live music, there’s always something going on at the Barn.
Hillrock Estate Distillery
Open Monday–Fri, 12–4pm; Sat–Sun, 11am–5pm
408 Pool Hill Road, Ancram
Visitors can swing by Hillrock during open hours, but booking a special tour will guarantee a truly memorable experience at this field-to-glass distillery. The Deconstructed Solera Aged Bourbon Tour ($100), explains the process and ends with a tasting of four tiers of the Solera. The Distillery Tour and Tasting ($42), gives you a behind-the-scenes glimpse and tour of the distillery, malt house and rickhouse, plus a guided tasting paired with locally-made charcuterie and cheese. Book these and other tours here.
More Tasting Rooms Open in Winter
Be sure to check individual websites to confirm hours before heading out.
Applewood Winery – Saturday–Sunday, 11am–5pm
Benmarl Winery – Friday–Sunday, 12–5pm
Brimstone Hill Winery – Saturday–Sunday, 11:30am–5:30pm
Brotherhood Winery – Friday–Sunday, 11am–5pm
Demarest Hill Winery – Daily, 11am–6pm
Helderberg Meadworks – Saturday, 12–5pm
Milea Estate Vineyard – by appointment
Nostrano Vineyards – Saturday, 12–5pm
Slate Point Meadery – Saturday, 12–4pm
Taconic Distillery – Saturday, 12–6pm
Whitecliff Vineyards – Saturday–Sunday in January; Thurs–Mon, Saturday in February. Check for hours.
Every season has it charms, and we are determined to resist the urge to hibernate when the snow descends. Hope to meet some of you over a glass of wine or a cocktail soon. Cheers!
Photo (top): Courtesy The Saratoga Winery