Work and Progress at Fjord Vineyards

view of red roofed building with vineyard in front

The owners of Fjord Vineyards are no strangers to winery ownership, or growing grapes, or making wine for that matter. Founders Matt Spaccarelli and Casey Erdmann have been forging a path for Fjord since 2013 when they branched out from Benmarl Winery to focus on their passion—to craft world-class wines that reflect the region where the grapes are grown, under their own label.

The couple’s hard work has paid off. Along with a slew of impressive medals and highly-rated scores for their wines, Fjord Vineyards tied as winner of the Best Winery of the Year award at this year’s Hudson Valley Wine & Spirits Competition. In fact, their wines also took home awards for Best Overall Hudson Valley Wine and Best Rosé this year.

cabernet franc grapes ripening on the vine

When Matt and Casey began managing the property at 251 Ridge Road in Milton, NY, the vineyard was planted with Cabernet Franc and Seyval grapes; they’ve become a mainstay for Fjord’s wines today. In fact, the first vintage of Cab Franc wine from the Ridge Road vineyard (produced under the Benmarl label and still available in limited quantities) notched a whopping 90 points from Wine Enthusiast in 2012—a huge accolade for a premier release. The grapes, which were still hanging on the vines on the sunny fall day when we visited, are beautiful, plump specimens that defy any negative criticisms about growing grapes in the Hudson Valley’s often less than ideal micro-climates. Matt nurtures these grapes, like the other varietals he grows, as sustainably as possible.

Fjord has already made its mark with Albariño; they are the only winery in the region (and possibly New York) to grow and produce this classic Spanish white on Hudson Valley terroir. Matt packs as much vivacity and well-balanced acidity into the bottle from grapes grown on the west side of the Hudson as winemakers from Rías Baixas do on the mountains over the Atlantic. (Fun fact: “rías” means “fjord” in Spanish.)

It’s been an ongoing evolution of carefully managed growth to get where Fjord is today, and to the opening of their newly-constructed tasting room. “We do wear many hats,” says Casey, “with Matt being the wine grower, and myself working on the marketing and sales and managing the tasting room. We like to think of it as ‘front of the house/back of the house’.”

The tasting room, designed in collaboration with the property’s owner, is reminiscent of a one-room schoolhouse but with a muted-toned, stone interior and a minimalist esthetic. Tucked away on a dusty back road amid Milton’s lush apple country landscapes, the building is perched high on a hilltop at the crest of a long, winding driveway. The ascent rewards with 360 degree views of neighboring farms and orchards, with Storm King Mountain to the west and Mt. Beacon to the east.

view of moutains with rock wall

Tastings or wines by the glass, as well as artfully arranged boards of local cheese, are offered inside the tasting room, under umbrellas on the patio, or out on the lawn where the vineyards are in full view.

The Wines

We’ve been sampling vintages of Fjord’s wines since the year they began, but there’s something that enlivens the taste buds when you’re sitting 20 feet from neat rows of vines plush with thriving grapes for a future bottling. We start with a flight.

2018 Albariño: A grape known in Spain for its bright acidity and subtle salty qualities, Fjord’s Albariño is refreshingly dry with juicy citrus flavors balanced with peach, pear and lychee on the palate, and a flutter of floral aromatics on the nose.

2016 Dry Riesling: A well-balanced, medium-bodied crisp wine with lingering melon and stone fruit flavors that finishes a burst of with crisp, tart green apple.

2016 Sauvignon Blanc: Produced from Long Island grapes, this austere, yet food-friendly white has a lemon-custard mouthfeel and a crisp, steely finish.

2014 Chardonnay: Aged in American oak for 10 months, Fjord’s Chard is silky smooth with soft tannins and creamy vanilla notes rounded out by well-integrated acid.

2016 Sauvignon Blanc: Produced from Long Island grapes, this austere, yet food-friendly white has a lemon-custard mouthfeel and a crisp, steely finish.

2014 Chardonnay: Aged in American oak for 10 months, Fjord’s Chard is silky smooth with soft tannins and creamy vanilla notes rounded out by well-integrated acid.

2015 Cabernet Franc: Leather and smoke on the nose. Dark cherry and plum on the palate. In a word, exquisite.

2015 Merlot: A fruit-forward, lighter style of Merlot from grapes sourced from the North Fork of Long Island, with a higher alcohol content and a lively finish.

2015 Chardonnay Ice: Late harvest bottling from local grapes with notes of beeswax, clover honey and apricot on the nose and concentrated flavors of dried peach, apple and honey on the palate. Surprisingly bright, with a good balance of acid.


Fjord Vineyard’s tasting room at 251 Ridge Road in Milton, NY, is open for visits by reservation only, on October 13 and October 19, 2019.

Email info@fjordvineyards.com or call 845-393-0094 to reserve a tasting.

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