Saturday, Sept. 8th, we went (for our third time) to this upstate NY event.
This year, unlike our previous visits, we went with a more methodical approach to the venture.
1. We would be VERY selective with regards to any & all purchases made
2. We would take empty backpacks for our purchases, to negate the need to carry bags in our hands or make trips to & from the car with purchases, and to avoid the Wine Pick-Up Tent, with its inevitable lines and bedlam.
3. We would eat, so as not to be overwhelmed by all the wine & other alcohol we’d be tasting.
4. We’d take ample cash, so as to avoid unnecessary/inflated ATM fees.
5. We took bottles of water – to remain hydrated, to rinse our palates between tastings, to clean out our tasting glasses in between tastings.
So, after a pleasant 1hr30min drive up the Taconic State Parkway, we arrived at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds in Rhinebeck, NY. The day was overcast, but with no threat of rain, and a light breeze, it was really quite comfortable.
There is lots of field parking outside the event, so this has never been an issue.
ID’s are checked, wristbands applied, bags searched (if deemed necessary), then it’s on into the event itself. Visitors are funneled through a welcoming tent where you receive a Welcome Bag and your Tasting Glass.
After the Welcome Tent, you essentially walk straight into the first of 4 interconnected, spacious exhibition hall areas, where the event proper is taking place.
These halls are open at both ends and our usual approach is to cruise the aisles in a snake-like pattern, as (poorly!) illustrated below;
The Fest gets crowded really quickly, so it’s advisable to arrive as early as you can to avoid too much milling around, jostling, spillage, and or breakages. There is a fun tradition that has sprung up at this event whenever anyone drops their glass or a bottle – whoever is in the vicinity instantly lets out a loud cheer…and it happens quite a few times per day, let us tell you!!
So, what is there to see? Well, as it happens, there is quite a lot on offer: wine, cheese, meats, candles, cooking demonstrations, seminars, spirits, jewelry, soaps, and many other things, but the primary focus is on the products from more than 50 vineyards from New York State, and 12 distilleries, and more than 50 gourmet food vendors.
So in we go, strolling the aisles and tasting away. You’d think that a few sips of wine wouldn’t have too much effect, but if you consider that each vineyard was presenting a minimum of 2 reds and 2 white wines, plus variations like rose, prosecco, sangria, brandy, and liqueurs, well, you can see how quickly you could get a bit pickled…and there were also samples of whiskey, cider, and vodka to be had, so…there you go – don’t judge!
So, we strolled, we tasted, we discussed, and we purchased. We bought 7 bottles of wine, one Apple Pie liqueur, and a Bourbon…
Adirondack Winery – Adirondack Splendor
This Limited Production premium red wine, aged in American Oak Barrels for two years, offers intense aromas of brown spice and raisins, followed by a smooth, velvety mouth feel full of rich black cherry and plum flavors with a hint of tobacco.
Adirondack Winery – The Good Life
This decadent red dessert wine offers an intricate mélange of flavors that tempt the nose and reward the palate. Imagine ripe black cherries covered in rich dark chocolate combined with the full-bodied experience of a deep red wine with a medium-sweet finish.
Hidden Marsh Distillery – Judd’s Apple Pie Liqueur
Can’t give you much information on this little beauty, since the maker’s website has had the crap hacked out of it! What we CAN tell you though, is that this is EXACTLY like drinking a fresh, boozy slice of homemade apple pie – no lie !!
Olde York Farm Distillery – Cooper’s Daughter Black Walnut Bourbon
Bourbon aged in their own American White Oak barrels and finished in a second barrel that was used to store black walnut syrup tapped from trees at the distillery and surrounding groves. Smooth, nutty, and slightly sweet.
Tug Hill Vineyards – Winter White
A sweet white wine made from 100% Edleweiss grapes. This refreshing wine has floral aromas and a sweet fresh grape finish.
Tug Hill Vineyards – 2016 43°Lat White
This wine has fresh fruit aromas suggestive of apricot and citrus. Its balance of fruit and acidity results in a refreshing semi sweet white wine.
Victorianbourg Wine Estate – Chocolate Flirtation
A sweet and seductive wine bursting with the flavor of white cherries, enhanced by subtle background notes of white chocolate.
We also bought 2 cheese wedges from Palatine Dairy – Bacon, and Nökkelost. These were totally consumed within a few short days!
And so, this was our entire haul on our kitchen counter when we got home… ↓
When we were feeling nearly done for the day, we picked up some crab-cake sandwiches from one of around 15 food trucks/stands. There is also a beer tent, ample outdoor seating, and a nearby small stage with live music performances going on pretty much all day. We at at a quieter section of outside tables along one side of the exhibition hall. Those crab-cakes from Sherri’s Crab Cakes were DELICIOUS, by the way!
Quick pit stop at the bathrooms and it was back into the car for the hour and a half drive home, already anticipating next year’s Wine Fest !!
-We find that going to such events allows us to experience many different styles and types of wine, and it lets us broaden our palates in an enjoyable and affordable fashion. If you get the chance, we strongly urge you to attend this, or any similar event, to increase your knowledge of wines and add to your cellar !!