For this trip, we suggest you start at the winery the farthest east and move toward the Taconic. Cascade Mountain Winery, in Amenia, is about as far east as you can go and still be in New York. Set in the Berkshire foothills, the winery was founded in 1972 by Bill Wetmore and his wife, Joan. It is now being run by their children, Charles, Michael, and Joan. The property’s restaurant is open for lunch on the weekends and features a menu of fresh seafood, along with locally sourced cheese and charcuterie. They also have a wood-fired oven serving up pizza and a smoker for barbecue. New this year are a Chardonnay and a Cabernet Sauvignon, and their famous Summertide wine is not to be missed. Plan to spend 30 minutes wine-tasting ($5 for nine wines); reservations are recommended for the restaurant.
Millbrook Farmers Market
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Find local produce, cheese, and bread, along with artwork and alpaca-fleece products. Saturdays from 9 a.m.–1 p.m. through October 27.
A great place to stop for spirits lovers in your party, this 5-year-old establishment makes award-winning bourbon and rye.
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Visit what National Geographic has called one of the nation’s best gardens. Here, you’ll find streams, waterfalls, terraces, rocks, and a 40-acre glacial lake.
Madava Farms/Crown Maple
Purchase their renowned syrup and learn how it is made on this 800-acre farm.
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Just 20 minutes down the road is Millbrook Vineyards & Winery. John Dyson purchased this 130-acre dairy farm back in 1982 and transformed it into what the New York Times has called “The Hudson Valley’s flagship winery,” producing about 15,000 cases annually. As you drive up to the tasting room, you will notice newly planted vines of Chardonnay, Riesling, Gamay Noir, and Pinot Noir. It will take three years for these vines to produce wine, and that will be a young wine that will change in complexity each year as the vine ages. Make a reservation for their private, intimate Reserve tasting. Picnic throughout the property or visit the Vineyard Café (open on the weekends). End your week with their Friday-night Food Trucks, through August 31, and Jazz at the Grill Saturday evenings through September 1. Nice wines to try are the Proprietor’s Special Reserve Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay, and their Tocai Friulano wines.
• Don’t wear perfume or cologne. You want to smell the aromas of the wine, not your perfume
• It’s perfectly okay to spit. Use the spit bucket, that is why it is there. You are out to taste and enjoy wine, and you are not obligated to drink the entire pour. Nobody’s feelings will be hurt.
• Taste white before red, dry before sweet.
• The crackers are there to cleanse your palate between each taste. They are not there for you to snack on; leave some for the next person.
• You are under no obligation to make a purchase. However, many of these wines are created in small production, so if you get home and decide you want a bottle, they might be sold out when you go to purchase it.
• If you are really impressed with the wines, see if they have a wine club to join. Make sure they ship to your state and check the commitment terms.
From there, it’s only 15 minutes to Clinton Vineyards in Clinton Corners, where you can have a private tasting with owner Phyllis Feder. The tour is called the Royale, and Feder will guide you on an intimate tasting of four of their premium wines and a Méthode Champénoise sparkling wine. The tasting includes a savory complement from the Nosh, a selection of local cheese and charcuterie. This tour is $35 per person and is available for groups of six or more by appointment. Don’t forget to taste their award-winning Seyval Blanc, Cassis, and (new this year) their Estate Bottled Pinot Noir.