26 Wing Road
Millbrook, NY 12545
(845) 677-8383
(800) 662-WINE

I love wine. I love vineyards. I love road trips. So when I got a call from The Rents to check out a maple farm up in Dutchess County with them, I jumped at the chance, in part because I knew we could check out a vineyard or two in the Hudson Valley. We ended up only being able to go to one, but it was the one I have my most fond memories of. See, I graduated from a certain liberal arts college in Poughkeepsie, about a half hour away. Ah, memories.

New York State is not exactly the first state that comes to mind when one thinks of American Wine. California, Oregon, Washington State. Those are the big names. But the Empire State is up next, fourth in wine production. Long Island's North and South Forks have vineyards (which I'll be headed to soon), as does the Finger Lakes, as does the Hudson Valley, where we were.

I'm not going to go into a history of the Millbrook Vineyard or who its owners are since you can get all that on the tour or at their website. I also don't particularly care. What I care about is the experience and the wine.

Experience-wise, the one problem I had was with the time of year I chose to go. It was a beautiful day, but a chilly late March isn't conducive to getting good photos of lush bushes awash in green leaves and grape bunches. Sorry folks. But we went on a tour, bought a few bottles of vino and got to wander around the grounds, which were beautiful. And they get only more so in warmer weather.

The wine Millbrook specializes in (at least at its New York Vineyard) is red. Dry red. Pinot Noirs, Merlots, Cabernet Francs. I bought all three. Unfortunately, there isn't any restaurant here so you'll have to check out a downstate Zagat guide for where to get something to eat. I speculated that a restaurant would do really well to our tour guide (who was really really nice, by the way), but he explained that they had tried one once and it didn't work out. That's sad. Each time I sipped the wines we tried, I pictured the steaks and ducks and stews and fish that they would have paired so well with. But it wasn't to be.

If you're a white wine person, Millbrook sells a Chardonnay and Tocai Fruliano, but the rest of their whites are from their California winery. No offense to California, but I was touring a New York vineyard and wasn't about to bother with those. A wine connoisseur, something I am most assuredly not, will try a wine and can pick out flavors that they feel the wine has buried deep within it alcoholic soul. Plums or blackberries or tobacco. I'm not quite that good. But I can taste the peach and vanilla tones in a white and the pepper and chocolate tones in a red. With the Millbrook wines, reds are peppery, and get more so as they get dryer and heavier. These are rich reds, heavy reds, and remind me more of French wine than the lighter ones from California. As for the whites, I usually pass on the Chardonnay in favor of a Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc. Millbrook was no exception, but they don't sell those other two. They do have Gewurtztraminer and Tocai Friuliano, which are light and sweet, but are dry enough to be tossed out of the dessert wine club. What I liked about both of these was that they don't coat your mouth in that oaky butter taste that Chardonnays are either loved or hated for doing.

In the summer, people come from far and wide and set up picnics, pounding back the wines they like most from inside the main building. I suggest you do too. Maybe bring a teeny barbecue grill. The grounds of Millbrook are gorgeous and, because of the hill the vineyard's on, on clear days you can see for miles down the valley. Above the wine rooms of the first floor, the vineyard hosts art shows in the summer and you can apparently reserve the whole place for weddings.

Over the past few years, I've started seeing Millbrook being sold in more and more wine shops here in the city, at least the ones with New York sections. Cheaper ones that focus on Yellow Tail, Berenger or other plastic cork wines, and ones that specialize in wine from specific regions (such as Spain only) would clearly not be where to go to find yourself a bottle.

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