A Proposed New Book about the Wines of the Hudson River Region

The Hudson River Region AVA needs a book that tells the full story of winegrowing in the region, including the geological and cultural histories of the region as well as the history of wine production there. Geologically, the region is very complex and its history goes back not only to the period of the glaciers that shaped the Valley but nearly a billion years before that, to the time that massive tectonic events led to the mountain ranges that gave the Valley its basic shape. Its cultural history goes back to the time of the Indigenous tribes that lived in the region for several thousand years until Europeans arrived and disrupted their way of life. The American Northeast was festooned with many species of grapevines, but none was truly suitable for winemaking as the Europeans wanted it, leading to the importation of European grape varieties and a long and complicated period of experimentation with domesticated vines, until, after nearly 300 years, palatable wine could be made here.

Only one book covers the history of winegrowing in any detail, and only specialist volumes deal with the geological history in depth. Several books provide guides to the wineries, but none treats the specifics of site selection, vineyard soils, viticultural practices, and winemaking with much specificity (see below).

The book that I propose is based on the same format and organization as my book, The Wines of Long Island, published in 2019. That is, it provides the background history of the region’s geology, cultural history, and history of winegrowing in the region. It will then describe every winery in the Hudson River Region including its history, terroir, viticultural practices, and its philosophy of making wine. It will include biographies of the owners, winemakers, and vineyard managers, with an emphasis on their background and experience in the wine business. It will describe the varieties planted if they have a vineyard, and the varietals and blends that are produced and offered for sale, as well as any prizes and awards won by the winery.

These are the books that are devoted to the Hudson River Region to date:

Bedford, Robert. The Story of Brotherhood, America’s Oldest Winery. Flint Mine Press: Coxsackie, NY, 2014. Published on the occasion of the 175th anniversary of the establishment of the winery, it has a useful history that often extends beyond the winery itself, and is amply illustrated.

Casscles, J. Stephen. Grapes of the Hudson Valley and Other Cool Climate Regions of the United States and Canada, 2nd Edition. Flint Mine Press, Coxsackie, NY, 2023. An important and indispensable guide to the varieties of the region. The book provides an excellent historical overview of the Region, with a meticulous level of scholarship throughout.

Edick, Tessa, and Kathleen Willcox. Hudson Valley Wine: A History of Taste & Terroir. American Palate: Charleston, SC, 2017. An informative and friendly tour guide to the region, with a focus on personalities. It also includes recipes and matches for food and wine.

Gioquindo, Debbie. Tapping the Hudson Valley: Wineries, Breweries, Distilleries, and Cideries. Million Dollar Sips: New York, 2017. The approach of this book for the determined tourist is to create Daytrips and Weekend Itineraries to visit wineries, breweries, distilleries, and cideries, along with restaurants, historic sites, museums, and so on.

Martell, Alan R. and Alton Long. The Wines and Wineries of the Hudson River Valley. The Countryman Press:  Woodstock, VT, 1993. Given that it was published 31 years ago, it is seriously out of date, and at a scarce 48 amply-illustrated pages, it covers but 20 wineries (several of which are no longer extant) and a meadery. It was meant for the general public.

Miller, Mark. Wine—A Gentleman’s Game: The Adventures of an Amateur Winemaker Turned Professional. Albany, NY: excelsior editions, 2009. An engaging personal account by the man who established Benmarl Vineyards and Winery and helped bring about the rise of farm wineries in New York State.

Schimmrich, Steven. Geology of the Hudson Valley: A Billion Years of History. Independently published, 2020.

Titus, Robert and Johanna. The Hudson Valley in the Ice Age: A Geological History and Tour. Black Dome Press: Delmar, NY, 2012.

 Other books that cover wineries on the East Coast, but where the Hudson River Region is not the sole focus:

  • Carlo de Vito, East Coast Wines: A Complete Guide from Maine to Virginia, Rutgers University Press, 2004. An excellent guide to the wineries of the region, though having been published nineteen years ago, it doesn’t even include the author’s own—now-relinquished—winery (it has new owners):  Hudson-Chatham.
  • Marguerite Thomas, Touring East Coast Wine Country: A Guide to the Finest Wineries, Berkshire House Publishers, 1996 (last printed in 2002)
  • Richard Figiel, Circle of Vines: The Story of New York Wines, Excelsior Editions, 2014 Written by the once-owner of a Finger Lakes winery, this is a well-written account of the story of New York wine, with a chapter devoted to the Hudson Valley and additional related material in two others. The entire book, with a sweep of history going back to the Ice Ages and up to the present day, is a very worthwhile read and the chapter on the Valley is especially complete and valuable.

I have been writing about Winemaking and Viniculture in Long Island for a blog that I maintain, Wine, Seriously, since 2010.  I hold a Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET) Diploma in Wine (a professional certification) and have an MA in Art History as well.  I published The Wines of Long Island in 2019, which was well-received.


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