Sunday, August 12, 2012

Applewood Winery: A Rosey Apple (and Grape) in the Hudson Valley

Applewood Winery has long been a family business. On June 27, 1949, the farm was purchased from Earl Predmore by Dr. and Mrs. Donald B Hull of Ridgewood, New Jersey. Donald Hull was a prominent physician who traced his Quaker family roots deep into the Hudson Valley past. Applewood was a sizable orchard and a farm that pre-dated the American Revolution. The orchard was very successful featuring U-pick operations, as well as selling their fruit wholesale deep in the heart of apple country.

In the Autumn of 1993, David Hull’s youngest son, Jonathan, assisted by his wife, Michele, opened the Applewood Winery in a building along the farm lane. Since then Jonathan Hull has pioneered the planting of Vinifera grape varieties in this section of the Hudson Valley, as well as producing apple wine, and hard cider. The wine is fermented, bottled, and sold at the Winery. Today, Applewood remains a premium apple operation, but is also a phenomenal spot to come and sip wine.

The winery drive way lets you know what you're in for. First you breach the beautiful old New England styled stone wall. As you bounce up and down the farm lane past long rows of apple trees. And then you arrive at the winery building. It's an enchanting experience.

There's an ample and lovely tastingroom, out fitted with lots of bar space, and tons of fun things like Applewood's own jams and wine accessories. It's a fun looking place. There's also a lovely patio outside, as well as a pavilion for events like weddings and birthday parties, etc.

Jonathan and Michele Hull run Applewood Winery. He is operations, winemaking, farming, etc., and she runs the tastingroom, sales, and marketing. Jonathan and she joke that he's not allowed in the tasting room.

That's a shame for Jonathan, because inside they have a perky, funny, inviting group of sale staff, who believe wine is about having a good time. They joke with the customers and each other, and keep the mood in the room light and fun.

First wine I really liked was the Seyval/Chardonnay Reserve made from 60% Seyval and 40% Chardonnay. It was aged in American oak. It had the crisp acidity of the seyval but the more luxurious texture of the chardonnay. This was an incredibly delightful wine. Sophisticated, yet quaffable.

The Vidal was next and it was off-dry, clean, bright with a nice bouquet with plenty of fruit and floral notes. It was lovely.

The Traminette, it goes without saying, was the star of the whites. The off-dry Gerwurtzaminer-hybrid continues to show well in the valley. Big floral nose. Fresh, crisp with a citrusy acidity and a refreshing finish.

Merlot was my next favorite. Aged in French oak, the wine exhibited all the correct varietal attributes. Nice fruit up front, with solid acidity and nice tannins. A lovely dry red, it had cherries and raspberries, and a hint of fallen leaf and leather. A nice black pepper finish. Very nice!

I thought the Cabernet Franc was also good. Aged in French oak, this bright Cabernet Franc was more Loire than California, with bright fruit, zippy acidity, and solid tannins. Very nicely balanced with good flavor.

Of course, what is a visit to Applewood without a little apple!!!!!

First is one of my old favorites, Apple Dave's Stone Fence Hard Apple Cider. It smells like a big, bright, fresh apple, with the perfect amount of tartness and flavor, this apple cider is fantastic. Easily one of my favorites!

Sadly, there was a last glass, as is to be expected. Happily, though, it was Apple Frost, an ice-cider. Thick, sweet, and with just the right amount of acidity to balance it all out, this is fantastic wine with hints of honey, apricot, and of course, apple! Awesome!

Applewood's reputation has always been solid, but it's also growing. And one can see why. Great stuff to Jonathan and Michele.