I spent last weekend in the Hudson Valley of New York. It was rainy most of the time, but still beautiful. Rolling farm land, some good restaurants, and more than a handful of local wineries.
I took the time to stop in at two of them. I like to go incognito and take the nickel tour, do the $5 tasting thing. While Seyval Blanc doesn’t usually light my fire, I always have fun seeing how wineries operate, tasting their wares, and being a fly on the wall as they talk to customers.
At one winery they were pouring an ’01 vintage Chardonnay that had matured way past its time and had way too much oak – a typical problem of East Coast wineries. It seems they’re forced to produce blue-chip varieties, even if it doesn’t suit where they are, in order to have some recognition factor with the people who come into the tasting room. But for every clunker, there’s something good. The other winery’s Cabernet Franc was crisp and fresh, with solid varietal character.
By the end of the day, we wound up with a few bottles of Seyval Blanc and a few bags of fresh local produce in the trunk. Dinner at home that night was delicious – local cheese and vegetables, capped off by a killer blackberry pie made from berries picked that day. Though my wife and I moved on to other, shall we say "more established," wines after only a half bottle of the Seyval, I had no qualms about supporting the local scene. Anyone who makes an honest effort to make wine is all right by me.
So, if you’re in New York, Virginia, Michigan (and other states with prominent viticultural and agricultural areas not named California, Oregon or Washington), do you support your local wineries? Or do you avoid the stuff like the plague? Are you drawn in by the charming, rural life, or turned off by a cloying tourist trap?