Hudson Valley Wine Festival…
Each September, on the weekend after Labor Day, the best wineries in New York throw a party at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds in Rhinebeck NY!
It’s a fun exposition showing off the region’s rich culinary heritage, and features over 50 local wineries offering their finest selections.
We attended on one of those perfect late-summer afternoons and were pleasantly surprised to find a nice sized festival. It wasn't too big and the crowd was cheerful.
A live band was playing beyond the tents, craftsmen were selling their wares, and people were sipping away while resting in gently swinging hammocks...
With the purchase of a $40 ticket at the gate ($35 online) you get a glass to sample all the wines you wish, and a small bag. (We used ours to collect free brochures and magazines available).
If you plan on purchasing bottles you can arrange for them to be waiting for you at a pick-up tent, so you don’t have to lug them around.
The tasting rooms are in the large warehouse structures on the fairgrounds and are teeming with wine enthusiasts, and local food artisans.
Everywhere people are circling around with wine glasses strapped around their necks, sipping, talking with vendors, laughing, and eating homemade sorbet, fudge, beer nuts, and gourmet cheese!
We spent a couple of hours roaming around the tasting rooms at Hudson Valley Wine Festival trying all these different wines and delectable treats.
Some personal highlights include “Winter Nirvana” from Pazdar Winery, the Rieslings from Brotherhood Winery (America’s oldest winery), and definitely the Awosting White from Whitecliff Vineyards.
Every stall has water for you to wash out your glass, and we advise drinking plenty of it. When vendors see your glass empty, being the good fellows that they are, they want to fill it up and tell you all about their wine. Drink up, but remember to hydrate!
Speaking of hydration…Hyde Park Brewing Company was on display selling their hand crafted Ales and Lagers. It was an oasis for the beer drinkers in the crowd… Ahem... and I must admit, it was nice to chill on a tall beer after sampling all those small glasses of wine!
We got a little anxious standing on our feet and shuffling through the crowded tasting rooms, so we bought a bottle of the Awosting White and headed outdoors to listen to the music and relax.
Outside the tasting rooms at the Hudson Valley Wine Festival are the market aisles, live bands, and food tents.
We strolled by the various vendors selling their wares. I liked the customized wine glasses and thought the one that read “Mommy’s Sippy Cup” would make a great gift for my Sister-In-Law, except that she doesn’t drink wine!
There were cigars for sale, jewelry, swinging hammock chairs, cowboy hats… and all sorts of other neat things.
I bought a Marimba from friendly Diatta, the vendor for Africa Trader’s Market. This company sells musical instruments and fabrics from Ghana and West Africa.
To round out the festival criteria, two very different bands were playing simultaneously throughout the day. One band was playing Grateful Dead, Neil Young and the like, while the other had a funky blues-rock vibe.
There are many options for food at the Hudson Valley Wine Festival.
As soon as you enter you are faced with the fairgrounds in-house food vendors. It was definitely of a higher standard for fairgrounds food (Cajun, Greek, ect.), and of course they had spaghetti on a stick!
Ana got sausage and peppers from here and the rest of us got crab cake sandwiches... It was good, but our advice is to save your stomachs for… The Gourmet Food Showcase
This was where the “food” in Hudson Valley Food and Wine Festival comes from.
They had a handful of excellent Hudson Valley restaurants and caterers - like 2 Taste Food & Wine Bar, and Savona’s Trattoria - serving dishes buffet style.
The price of food is not included with the hudson valley wine fest ticket. You buy extra $1 tickets and trade them in for plates of gourmet food. Most plates seemed to go for 4 to 8 tickets.
Unfortunately, we filled up on those awesome crab cakes, and by the time we got around to this tent we couldn’t eat any more. Nonetheless, it’s a great opportunity to get acquainted with the local restaurants.
The traditions of wine making and culinary excellence are a vital part to the Hudson Valley. After all, we are the oldest wine-producing region in the United States, and home to the Culinary Institute of America...
And since 2001, the best of the best in New York’s thriving food and wine industries have come together right here in the Hudson Valley to strut their stuff, and share their products.
Come to the Hudson Valley Wine Festival… It’s a chance to discover a new favorite wine, fill your belly, make contacts, and put together one heck of a wine list.
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