Friday, September 26, 2008


Friday, September 26, 2008
A Family Vineyard Takes Root
Marilyn Bethany on 09/23/08 at 09:09 AM
A lot of deskbound urban executives dream of one day owning a vineyard, but few pursue the dream as studiously as Carlo DeVito, owner with his wife Dominique of the Hudson-Chatham Winery. Instead of building castles in the air, DeVito, Editorial Director of Sterling Publishing ("We all,” he says ruefully of the vineyard-owning set, “seem to have day jobs,"), wrote a book, East Coast Wineries, a Complete Guide from Maine to Virginia (Rutgers University Press). “That helped me decide on the Hudson Valley,” he says. “I wanted to be in New York State because they are making some great wines here. And the Valley is gorgeous, very fertile. Besides I’ve always lived near water.”

In February ‘06, the DeVitos, who have twin sons Dylan (left in photo) and Dawson, now ten, closed on a fourteen-acre farm in Ghent. That May, they put in three acres of grapes, with the intention of adding two or three acres each year. Alas, the first year’s backbreaking labor met with heartbreak last year: an entire year’s growth was lost to deer. Now surrounded by an electrified fence ("Not how we imagined it, but..."), the vines are on their way again. “It’s one step forward, one step back,” Carlo says.

One giant step forward from the start was discovering Ralph Cooley III, a neighbor whose grandfather Ralph Cooley I, had run a dairy farm, Brisklea, where the DeVito’s now live and work. “When we moved here, someone recommended that we contact Ralph to help with the farming,” says Dominique. “So we called him, and he and Carlo hit it off. He is now our farm manager. It’s nice that a family that was historically in farming has reconnected with the agricultural life.”

(grapes fermenting)


Tuesday, September 16, 2008


We originally planted the vineyard on Dominique’s birthday in May 2006. 1,000 plants. 400 Seyval Blanc, 200 Golden Muscat, 200 DeChaunac and 200 Chancellor. The plants looked good the first and second year, as the grow tubes went on and then came off, season by season. Still, it little resembled a vineyard. We thought this year would be the year we would take fruit from our vines.

But at the end of last year, the deer discovered our vineyard, and had a feast. Berries, shoots, leaves, stalks. Gone! What were three and four feet high were now 2 feet high. Dominique was in tears.

This year, we had planned on introducing a trellis, putting off the costly expense as long as possible. However, the situation also demanded a deer fence.

In December we put in a deer fence. In June/July went put up our trellis. Holes were dug. Anchor posts were pounded in. Wires were strung. Plants were tied to the wires.

And Mother Nature chimed in by letting our vines mature. We cut down many of the grape clusters that were growing, hoping the plants would spend the summer strengthening their root systems and trunks. We left a little to see how things would go. And those grapes have matured well. While we won’t be bringing the motherload of crops this year, some of our Seyval Blanc will reach our bottles, though the bulk of it will come from another Hudson Valley farm.

And the vineyard is lush and verdant.

To be continued....

Monday, September 08, 2008


As you can see below, the Hudson-Chatham Merlot 2005 received a score 85 from Wine Spectator. Below, see the review on the bottle tag that they offer online!

Saturday, hurricane Hannah paid a visit to the Dutchess County Fairgrounds, where the Hudson Valley Wine & Food Festival 2008 was being held. People who arrived early, sought shelter in the sheds and tents, and the place was jumping.
Here's Hannah in the background on Saturday
Here's our crack travel team, of Dawson and Dylan, who helped set up the booth.

Mario and Liz, students at CIA, were a great help over the two days.

Here's a video of Dominique on Sunday taken by the boys.

Here's the crowd on Sunday!

A great time was had by all!

Thursday, September 04, 2008


Announcing the release of the 2008 Bco Noir Reserve from Casscles Vineyards. And here is the story of a wine. The grapes are tended to by the vineyard manager of Casscles Vineyard Steve Casscles. The grapes are grown on the Casscles family property, where they live, in small, well tended vineyard blocks.

According to Wikipedia, "Baco noir (pronounced BA-koh NWAHR; Baco noir is also called Baco 1) is a hybrid red wine grape variety produced from a cross of Vitis vinifera var. (Folle Blanche, a French wine grape) and an unknown variety of Vitis riparia (an indigenous North American grape species). Baco noir was first created by French wine hybridizer Maurice Baco (hence the name of the grape)."

Baco noir produces a medium body, deeply tinted, acidic red wine which is fruit forward and often carries aromas of black fruits and caramel.

The grapes were hand picked in October of 2007 by Steve and Hudson-Chatham WInery General Manager Ralph Cooley, and brought to the winery where the were de-stemmed and then pressed by hand, the old fashioned way.

The juice was then fermented in an old stainless-steel dairy sink and then transferred to French oak barrels.

Then the wine sat for about 6 months in these casks, with a few carboys of wine that was also aged separately, with no oak. This was all according to plan by Mr. Casscles who also doubles as our winemaker at the winery.

After six months, we took the best two of the three barrels we made, and mixed them in our blending tank which had been previously loaded onto Ralph's Gator. We emptied both barrels into the blending tank.

Then we added the carboys in at the end. These few gallons had never been in oak, and added the touch of bright fruit we wanted the wine to also show.

Then we drove Ralph's Gator around the farm for a half hour to make sure the contents were mixed and aerrated. And then it was pumped into the blending room tanks and bottled.

It doesn't get more classic than that. This, our first "Reserve", is a hand-made wine that is exceptional. Hints of vanilla and cherry are on the nose. The cherry comes through, as does a touch of vanilla in this wonderful, medium bodied red wine of great complexity. It finishes dry and smooth.
Try some.