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Clinton Vineyards, New York

Dateline: 08/23/99

The Selection
Last weekend found us with a free afternoon in the Hudson Valley of New York; our thoughts naturally turned towards the vast array of wineries there. Life works out sometimes in wonderful ways. The Dutchess Wine Trail, having exactly three members, seemed the perfect match to our needs. It is located off the beaten path, in rural eastern Hudson Valley instead of along the heavily travelled western route. As we prefer the quiet, out of the way locations, we were quite pleased. We finished up our other obligations around 11am and set off along the gorgeous, wending roads of the Husdon Valley.

We followed the trail from west to east, moving from the beautiful bluffs of the Husdon River into the hills and woods of Dutchess County. The weather had subsided to gentle clouds as we drove north on the Taconic, bringing out deer, falcons, woodchucks and other creatures to gaze at our car as we went past. Wending through a small town center, we turned onto a peaceful farm-sided road, and were soon at our first stop, Clinton Vineyards.

Clinton Vineyards
Phyllis Feder, our lovely hostess
Clinton Vineyards is located in a barn from the early 1800s, with the vineyards stretching gracefully out behind the building. We were greeted as if we'd come to visit old friends - a sofa and chair waited invitingly before us, a black dog came over to nuzzle us and say hello. Our hostess, Phyllis Feder, had a ready smile and a wealth of information.

The Wines
We began with their Seyval Naturel, their methode chamenoise created from Seyval Blanc. This has a refreshing, fruity flavor, lightly bubbly. Next came the Seyval Blanc still wine, again fruity, but this time crisp and bright, with a green apple springtime freshness to it. The apple wine shared in this attitude towards life. The flavor is created from a blend of five apple varieties, and comes across as if you were walking through an orchard in the summer. The flavors are light and fresh, not overly sweet, not heavy.

Clinton Vineyards
Wines Old and New
We were already quite pleased with the wines, but, as they say, the best was yet to come. The peach sparkling wine is one of the top sellers for the winery; Phyllis commented that they "fly right out of here." No wonder why - it was gently bubbly, light, with a fresh peach taste that was sprightly but not sweet and cloying. Long, beautiful finish.

The remaining two wines are both fortified dessert wines, sold typically in a half bottle. Named Romance and Embrace, Phyllis joked that at a recent wedding she'd stood on the side calling out, "Anyone want some Romance? Anyone for some Embrace?" to the glee of the younger gentlemen around.

Romance is a fortified Seyval Blanc wine. Smooth, fruity, and bright, it combines the best features of the other two Seyval wines and adds the richness that fortification brings. This would be a delightful match with peach cobbler.

Embrace, the second fortified wine, is created with raspberries. It is a pure, sweet-tart raspberry flavor, and you can almost feel the berries in your mouth as this melts against your tongue. The flavor is very fresh, with a lingering finish. Think chocolate mousse cake.

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