My name is Carlo DeVito, and I am the author of East Coast Wineries: A Complete Guide from Maine to Virginia published by Rutgers University Press. This blog is dedicated to primarily east coast wines and wineries including Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia. It will also feature products and information from other regions.
Saturday, November 14, 2015
THE GRAPES OF THE HUDSON VALLEY by J. Stephen Casscles is Brilliant!
OK, there are two things I need to say before anything else:
1. J. Stephen Casscles is a friend of mine. He is a brilliant winemaker. We
have worked eight vintages together. And I have had an absolute ball working
with him on all of them. 2. Grapes of the Hudson Valley is a mish-mash of a
book (which I will elucidate on later) but is also one of the most important
books for winemakers and grape growers (for anyone not stationed in California –
no matter where you make wine) published in more than half a century!
Alright, now that that is dispensed with, I can get into the
nitty gritty of this book.
First, who in the hell is J. Stephen Casscles? First and
foremost he has worked on many of the bills that have made a difference in the
wine, beers, and spirits industry in New York state for more than a generation.
Quietly, and behind the scenes, he has possibly been one of the most
influential people in the industry for years.
He is also a talented winemaker, having made wine as a young
man at Benmarl under the tutelage of Eric Miller (of Benmarl Winery and Chaddsford
Winery fame – himself a published and influential winemaker with one of the
more impressive winemaking trees on the east coast). Stephen’s Baco Noirs have
consistently been among the highest rated wines for that varietal in North
America. He's also made some of the most outstanding wines in New York state according to reviews and scores from Wine Enthusiast and Wine Spectator, Snooth, The Village Voice, Sommelier Journal, Edible Manhattan, Forbes magazine, and other publications.
And for many years he was easily the most knowledgeable wine
historian in the Hudson Valley.
Now, the book, GRAPES OF THE HUDSON VALLEYY is a mish-mash
of a book, because it is really two brilliant books pressed together. Firstly,
the book has a wonderful history of grape growing and winemaking in the Hudson
Valley. Secondly, it’s information on hybrid grapes, heirloom varieties, cold
climate varieties, and grape and winemaking information is second to none. It
is partially a fantastic reader. Partially it is the single best book on hybrid
and cold climate grapes available today.
EVERY WINEMAKING STORE OR CATALOG OR WEBSITE SHOULD BE
CARRYING THIS BOOK. EVERY WINEMAKING SCHOOL SHOULD INCLUDE THIS IN ONE OF ITS COURSES.
As far as the Hudson Valley is concerned, there is more
information here than any other single source. A fascinating history of grape
growing in the region which reaches back to the 1600s, which makes the valley
the birthplace of American wine.
For years the region was among the biggest grape growing
regions on the east coast (along with Vineland, NJ), and in the country.
Hundreds of thousands of tons were shipped down river from as far up as Catskill,
down to the city, feeding a hungry population and a solid cadre of home
Did you know that Hudson Valley’s many famous hybridizers have
produced more than 75 new grape varieties to the grape catalog? And the one
thing Stephen didn’t share in the book is that he has introduced a number of
On the other side, this book has all the intricate growing
information and winemaking information to make excellent wines from many of
these grapes, including the classic French-American hybrids and the currently
popular Minnesota (Elmer Swenson) varieties.
Both sections of this book are brilliant. And as such, this
book is a rare treasure, a well written narrative that also includes serious
technical information not available anywhere else.
If you grow grapes, make wine, or consider yourself knowledgeable
about wine, then you absolutely need this book! End of conversation!
p.s. the book has received some excellent reviews from
others as well.Here’s a link to a few….