Monday, April 06, 2015

Fred Tregasis Reviews Hudson-Chatham Empire 2012 on WHDD/NPR


CLICK TO FRED'S REVIEW

http://www.podcast.org.il/a-moment-in-wine-podcast-404012/a-moment-in-wine-hudson-chatham-empire-reserve-2011-%D7%A4%D7%A8%D7%A7-262645275/

CICK ON THE LINK ABOVE TO CONNECT

Fred Tregaskis is the Host at Wine-Jazz, The perfect pairing, in Hartford, Connecticut. He is the owner of  New England Wine Cellars, and has written about wine for Berkshire Home Style. He is the host on WHDD/NPR radio of Wine-Jazz, The perfect pairing. He’s something first about Fred….

“It might seem a stretch to jump from the visual arts to writing about wine, but his interest in wine is longstanding,” reported the Litchfield County Times. “He explained that he was raised in New York state, where “I went to college on an art scholarship. But I needed more money, so I went to work in a vineyard for one of the early vintners in the Hudson River Valley. It was wine-making 101, and I remember sitting on a tractor on a hillside at 7 o’clock one morning, watching the sun come up over a field of seyval vines. [They] gave me a little sip of wine to get my heart into the project. I thought, ‘I like this farming.’”
 

“As a young artist, he made ends meet by moonlighting as a bartender, where he learned more about wines. “I was given a lot of wines to taste,” he related, “and I knew a lot of sommeliers in New York. So when I tried out for the job as a taster and writer for the magazine, I described the taste of one wine as ‘a ’57 Chevy patching out at a stop light.’ They loved it because they wanted descriptions of wines that people would relate to, not the kind of thing you usually see in wine terminology. I got to write the silliest things, but I loved it.”
 
He rode the crest of the rising popularity for wine in the 1990s. “Wine was hugely popular,” he recalled. “Australian wines were coming on the stage and the Chilean stuff was happening. The South African embargo had been lifted. The wine world was exploding and it was great to ride that wave.”
 
It was shortly after he departed from the wine magazine that, while talking to a sommelier friend, he was asked to recommend someone who could design and build a 28,000-bottle wine cellar for the Lespinasse Restaurant at the St. Regis Hotel in New York City. “I grew up working with my hands, so I decided I could do it,” he said. “I did a drawing and put in a bid and got the job.”

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

THE GHOST IN THE CLOSET




I vacillate in my belief in an afterlife. I pray there IS one. I want to see a lot of people again who have gone before me. Especially my dogs. Logically it’s hard to wrap my head around it. Does heaven exist? I am not so sure. But I want to believe. That said, I have enormous respect for the soul. I think that the life force inside each one of us, good or bad, is something powerful to be reckoned with. I think anger lingers. I think happiness shines.

So I sat there with several friends, in a home on Long Island, and shared a wonderful meal. We ate and drank, and then we sipped some more. Our wine, of course. And we chatted. And somehow, the subject of ghosts came up. Maybe I brought it, I don’t remember. Candles were lit. A gorgeous home near the beach. Friendly banter. Beautiful people (them, not me). But somehow, the fingers of our Hudson Valley farmhouse tapped me on my shoulder, and I was suddenly reminded.

You see, while I love scary stories, especially Poe, Wharton, King, and others, I remain skeptical of the idea of ghosts and poltergeists especially. That was, until we moved into the house at the vineyard.

The old farmhouse at Hudson-Chatham dates back to 1790. The joists that run underneath the floorboards are trees, many with the bark still on them, and are only hewn at the ends so that they fit snuggly into the dry stacked stone walls. There are crevices everywhere, and the basements, especially in spring and summer, are a massive sheet of interconnecting cobwebs. A broom must be kept at the bottom of the stairs to sweep a bath to the various parts of that basement – the rusty old oil tank, the water heaters, and at the far end, the electrical panel. The whole thing is lit by one dim bulb that hangs in the center, encased in cobwebs.

The old house, built in two stages, has been many things over the years. It’s been a family farm, a judge’s home, a vacation home, and a poor farm and boarding house. The house has not one straight line. Some walls slant in three directions, and bulge in places. The floors rise and fall like a walk in the country. Some closets open but are filled with pipes that carry the plumbing and heating. The ceilings are low, and the farm doors are original planks, with little latches from the 1700s. To open the door, you need to depress a lever with your thumb to lift the latch high enough to rise above the lip of the catch. They are all wrought iron.

When we first bought the house, looming large and roomy, we always walked in it during the day. Tons of little nooks and crannies, more than 17 rooms in all. The house echoed with good cheer as we celebrated our new farm. A weekend home meant to be an oasis. Many friends, couples, families, would come to know its rooms. At the time it was a new start. Our home in the country.

When we first bought the place, we hired a small army of carpenters, painters, electricians, and handy men to help put a fresh look on the old house. We didn’t have enough money to gut the place and redo it, but we certainly had enough to update it in a number of ways. We painted bright colors, chosen form Polo and Martha Stewart. We loaded the place up with a combination of new, traditional furniture, antiques, and used pieces we bought at tag sales and antique stores. The living room, den, and dining room had lots of framed Currier & Ives prints of the Hudson Valley, augmented by paintings of horses and dogs. The whole place looked like an old New England inn, which was our goal.

But no matter how hard we tried, certain things kept happening. The lights would flicker, only at night. A light would go off, and come back on, then brown out, and then pop back on. Or the light might go out completely, and not comeback on for days. We hired two electricians to try and put an end to this, but to no avail.

The master bedroom was upstairs in the front of the house. From our bedroom window, you could look down on a giant, bristling hedge of lilacs, which bloomed a gorgeous lavender in late spring. It was the largest room farthest away from everything else, with a large walk in closet the size of two mini vans. And at the back of the closet was a door that opened up to a staircase which ascended to the attic. That stairway too was festooned with cobwebs.

One night, we were asleep. My side and night table were closest to the closet door. Snuggled underneath the covers, beating back the crisp nights of the Hudson Valley spring season, I suddenly, and without warning, awoke. Not such an odd thing, except for the fact that it was 3 a.m. in the morning. I remember looking at the alarm clock which was positioned not far from my head. Its bright red LED numbers blared at me. Why was I suddenly awake?

I was lying on my left side, facing the night stand, and wondering why I had suddenly awoken. Then there was a noise. Something from behind the headboard, inside the closet. And then there was a distinct click. The latch to the closet suddenly popped up with a snap. And with that the door slowly swung open, with a groan. I laid in bed not moving a muscle. I did not wake my wife. I stayed perfectly, perfectly still. I was petrified.

It lingered there for what seemed like an hour, and I was wide awake. Nothing happened. There was complete stillness and absolute silence. The suddenly after about five minutes, the door slowly closed. And then the latch popped again, and the door slowly clicked back into place.

I remember feeling very chilly for a long time and only fell asleep as the first feint rays of light began to penetrate the night sky. The next day told my wife of the event, and she laughed at me, telling me it must have been a dream. I shrugged and tried to write it off.

Not long after, I met Ralph Cooley, the grandson and third man of the same name. His grandfather had owned and run the farm for decades. Ralph the grandson lived in the old caretaker’s house at the top of what some people of a certain generation know as Cooley’s Hill. I asked Ralph when he was last in the house, and he told me it had been at least two decades. Two different families before us had occupied the house over the last 20 years. I invited him in to tour the place should he like to.

He told us one story after another, and then when we got upstairs, we came to our bedroom.

“Who’s bedroom is this?” he asked.

“Ours,” I replied.

“Why would you choose this room?” he asked with real concern.

“I don’t know. Why not?’

“Well. When we lived here, we used to put a dresser in front of that door,” he said, pointing to the closet door. “We used to call that Casper’s closet. Wouldn’t stay closed.” He looked at us, shook his head, and walked away.

I hadn’t told him a thing about my dream.

Then one night several weeks later, I met Ralph’s brother, Bill, at a Ghent Town Hall meeting where our plans for the winery were being approved. Again, to be nice, I offered Bill, like his brother, a tour of the old house.

“Hell no!” Bill shouted in front of the town’s entire assembled population. “That whole place is haunted.” I was thrilled to have to go back to the house alone and sleep by myself there that night. It being a school night, my family was still down in New Jersey. The heating system groaned and clanged, and creaked, as the warmth followed from the boiler through the veins of the house.

I later met Bill, and their sister Holly, who both confirmed the swinging door and its eerie habit of opening and closing without any prompting from me. They told me of an aunt who had died in the house, and it was assumed that someone else had died there as well. It later came to light that one of the intervening, subsequent owners of the house, who also came back to visit, were so put off by the happenstance when they lived there, that they refused to sleep upstairs at all in that part of the house. All these confirmations happened without me ever confirming my own version of said events.

Still I doubted my own version of events, and as the summer and then the fall rolled along, the moment slowly started to fade from my mind, and I thought, maybe, perhaps, it was a dream after all.

Then as Christmas approached, we decided we would celebrate the holiday in the country. The living room had not yet been finished, and so I decided to stay up at the old house and paint the walls a lovely cranberry red, with white trim.

I was excited because the Giants were playing the Dallas Cowboys. And as anyone who knows me, knows, I am a violent Giants fan, and I loathe the Dallas Cowboys. I had decided to listen to the game on the radio while I painted. The radio was an old fashioned boom box with an on/off power switch that flipped up and down.

Around the middle of the third quarter, as I was painting the walls and as the game was getting good, the radio suddenly clicked off. This had never happened before. I stared at the radio a second and then the lights flickered.

I grumbled, got down off the ladder, and walked across the room to where the radio was. I flipped the switch back on. The game roared to life again. I quickly resumed my position on the ladder and began to apply the paint once again.

The Giants were driving. And I was listening intently. After five minutes, the radio clicked off again. I got down, turned the radio back on.

“Leave it on,” I grumbled to no one in particular.

Ascending the ladder, I listened intently as the Giants drove the ball deep into Dallas territory. As they were positioning themselves for another score, the radio went off again. I climbed down the ladder, I turned it back on.

The Giants scored and then the Cowboys started marching down the field. But now the radio clicked off again. I turned it back on. And then again. Each time I got off the ladder and turned the radio back on.

Now it was getting to the end of the game. And the switch flipped up again and the radio went off. I was pissed. I lost it.

“That is F&*%ing it! You turn the damn radio on right now, or I bring in a Priest and have him exorcise your damn ass out of this damn house!” I screamed out loud at the top of my lungs. There was a moment, and then the radio actually flipped on. And the lights did not dim again, and the radio never went off again. And the Giants lost the game.

Since then we moved in full time, and we’ve not had any of these issues. But every once in a while, there will be a loud bang in our closet. The door to the attic? I don’t know. I won’t be going back to check it out.

My dinner companions asked me if I believe in ghosts, now?

I don’t know. But that’s my story.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Hudson-Chatham Empire 2011 Named as One of Best Reds in New York by Wine Enthusiast magazine!


Hudson-Chatham Empire 2011 scored big time with the publishing of a list in Wine Enthusiast of the best red wines of New York state.
"Ranging from earth- and cherry-flavored Cabernet Franc to a variety of blends, New York's red wines run the gamut in flavor and quality offerings. Step out of your West Coast comfort zone and seek out these selections, a mere fraction of the offerings coming from this red-hot wine scene," wrote Anna Lee C. Iijima in her article 24 Red Wines From New York State in Wine Enthusiast. 


Hudson-Chatham 2011 Empire Reserve Red (New York), $25; 85 points. Ruddy, primary red cherry and berry notes persist from nose to finish on this blend of Baco Noir, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Ripe black-fruit flavors are fleshy and ripe on the palate, but demure in concentration and length. —A.I.


We couldn't be more thrilled!!!


Read more at:
http://www.winemag.com/Web-2014/24-Red-Wines-from-New-York-State/?fb_action_ids=918222131561997&fb_action_types=og.comments

Saturday, March 07, 2015

Kevin Zraly, the Guinness Book of World Records, and Hudson-Chatham Baco Noir Old Vines


Largest BYOB Party Ever, James Beard Awards, Kevin Zraly
by Susannah Gold
Avvinare May 10, 2011


Last night the James Beard Awards were held in New York City. Many of the wine and food luminaries were of course in attendance, those getting awards and those merely watching the festivities. I really like this article in The Atlantic about the Awards.

For those of us who were not invited or prize winners, one had to celebrate in other ways. Luckily, my friend Eric Orange of Local Wine Events invited me to Kevin Zraly’s after party which was billed as the largest BYOB party.
I am not sure how many people where there but it seemed like a rockin’ crowd to me. I saw many of the wine world luminaries I know and some I do not. Kevin won the Lifetime Achievement award for his work in the field. Hats off to him. I have sat in on many of his classes and enjoy his enthusiasm and warmth, verve and energy when teaching. Many of his former colleagues from Windows on The World were in attendance which was very touching.
Hudson Chatham Baco Noir
Everyone brought a wine to the event. I tasted a number of wines including some that I had never tried such as a Baco Noir from the Hudson-Chatham Winery. I was favorably surprised.


To read the rest, go here.....
http://avvinare.com/2011/05/10/largest-byob-party-ever-james-beard-awards-kevin-zraly/