July 15, 2011

Millbrook Vineyards & Winery

Jen A & I snapped up a deal on bloomspot.com a few weeks ago--a day trip to an upstate NY winery, Millbrook Vineyards & Winery. This deal also popped up on DailyCandy.com. If you have a chance, grab one--and you're about to see why!

Millbrook Vineyards & Winery is a gorgeous, sprawling, impressively appointed piece of land in Millbrook, NY, about 30 minutes from the Poughkeepsie, New York train station. It's equidistant from Albany and NYC (about 90 minutes), and while it's a bit of a trip, I absolutely believe it's worth the effort. What a stunning place for a day trip!

The winery itself is a converted dairy barn, and this place has been rolling out impressive vintages commercially since 1985 (so why did it take me so long to find out about it?) John Graziano has been the sole winemaker there since 1984.

It's a shlep for people from the city, but the folks at Millbrook make it so easy--they shuttle you to and from the train station! (More about this later when I share my interview with Sales Director Scott Koster)
While it takes some time to get there, it hardly takes any effort--we took the train from Metro-North, then we clambered onto a bus waiting for us right outside the Poughkeepsie stop.
A short 20 minute bus ride later, we drove up to an awe-inspiring, lush landscape of rolling hills and lovely, scrolling vines. We were told the owner, John S. Dyson, wanted it to resemble the rolling hills of Tuscany. Well done!

Andrew, our tour guide, started us in the vast, sprawling field right outside the main building. He explained that the proprietor, John Dyson, patented the Dyson Goblet trellis, used in their vineyard. This method helps the vines grow up and outward, and gets them a ton of sun.

The tour took us inside the winery, as well, and showed us where they keep their red and white wines, how the aging process works (nerd stuff--love it!) and where they bottle them. We saw a striking visual display of how the barreling process affects the color.

I gotta say, I wish we could have seen the bottling/labeling machine in action--I'll bet that is one sweet event!

One of the coolest displays indoors was a sample from a cork tree. I must say I made it a good few decades on this earth before really knowing where cork comes from--and how it's harvested. How cool is that?!

After we moved through the wine storage areas, we went upstairs for the tasting (that post is right here!) and after the tasting, we enjoyed a delicious lunch outdoors by one of their lakes.

Lunch was included with the tour & tasting. Students from the nearby Culinary Institute prepared our meal, which was even better than I hoped! Jen & I each ordered the grilled ahi tuna. It came on a surprisingly soft ciabatta roll with salad and of course, a glass of the Tocai Friulano.

After I finished my lunch, Millbrook's ebullient Director of Sales, Scott Koster, sat with me for an engaging interview. I was full of questions, and he was so kind to sit down with me during a really busy afternoon. I had seen him walking around, taking the time to approach everyone he passed and not only ask how they were enjoying themselves, but stick around for the answer! I could tell he genuinely loves what he does and where he's working. That's Lollipop Hill over his shoulder--called so because deer eat the bottom foliage off the cypress trees until they look like..lollipops! It's also where they grow the grapes for the Tocai Friulano.

Scott's first question to me was if I was having a good time. I assured him Jen & I both were, and that we loved his wines--even the Cabernet Franc, which we normally avoid (except for Clovis Point's!) His eyes flew open even wider as he exclaimed "Yes--it's not vegetal at all, is it!" and suddenly, he put his finger on exactly why I normally shy away from this grape. He was so pleased to hear that they'd helped expand my wine palate!
Scott told me how he'd always been in the wine business in some way. I was impressed to learn Scott graduated from the Culinary Institute of America himself at age 50--rock on, Chef Scott! He also started at Millbrook as tour guide, and now he's their Sales Director and one of the most welcoming people on their friendly staff!

While passionate about everything Millbrook has to offer, Scott readily admits it isn't easy to get to for a lot of people, which is why they work so hard to simplify the travel time (check out the map on the bottle to the left)! I can testify that the travel time was effortless, from train to bus without missing a beat, and a lovely journey that let us know we were definitely leaving behind the hot, concrete-filled city. Hey, I love NYC but sometimes it's still good to get outta town!

My pictures don't do this place justice--Jen and I just walked around and around in awe of the scenery. Scott promises it's even more stunning in fall--which I hope to see in person!

Millbrook's passion right now, Scott says, is educating the rest of us on what they do and what they have to offer: from tours and tastings to outdoor classes, weddings, and dinners (including one in October with Top Chef favorite & NYC restaurateur Angelo Sosa). They already produce 15-20,000 cases a year, but they always want to do and reach more. With the friendly staff , gorgeous location, and passion of people like Scott, they will have no problems accomplishing that goal. Cheers!

(There are so many photos I had to leave out of this post--go to my blog's Facebook page to see the rest of the gorgeousness that is Millbrook Vineyards & Winery!)
Millbrook Vineyards & Winery
26 Wing Road
Millbrook, NY 12545
(845) 677-8383

John Dyson, Proprietor
John Graziano, Winemaker/Vice President
David Bova, General Manager/Vice President
Their website: Millbrook Wines

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