12 Hudson Valley Gems for Leaf Peeping and Seasonal Sipping
Leaf-peeping is definitely a thing, especially for those in the city. It’s a day-long escape to see the changing foliage on some off-the-beaten-path roads or hikes and then maybe grab some brunch. But that’s not all you can do on a leaf sightseeing tour, especially in the Hudson Valley. There are so many breweries, distilleries and wineries that offer both seasonal sipping combined with amazing leaf viewing. You can curate your own drinking tour (responsibly, please!) to explore multiple areas of the Hudson and enjoy some adult refreshments along the way or stop at any one of these places for an end-of-day wind down while taking in all of the beautiful scenery, too.
Here’s a list of 12 wineries, distilleries and breweries that will be the perfect complement or sweet ending to any leaf-peeping venture in New York’s Hudson Valley.
1. Hudson Chatham Winery
In a quaint, simple white house with a beautiful overview of the hills surrounding the Hudson Valley sits the Hudson Chatham Winery. White lights strung over an outdoor seating area with a firepit make this Hudson Valley stop a gem of a gathering place. But don’t worry, the wine is exceptional, too. The owners, Steven Rosario and Justen Nickell, met in culinary school and decided to take over the property from its original owners, making wine that is unpretentious and enjoyable. Rosario says that leaf-peepers would likely enjoy one of the winery’s Pet Nats or its skin contact Gewurztraminer while gazing at the foliage in the outdoor space. Rose cider and its Estate Chelois round out its fall offerings. Treat yourself to a cheese or charcuterie board for good measure, as the hospitality is on point.
2. Coppersea Distilling
In a field surrounded by the Shawangunk Mountain area of New Paltz, there is a small sign in the ground that says, “whiskey” and points to a building that looks more like a dairy farm than a distillery (surprise!). Coppersea Distilling prides itself on heritage method distilling, using local ingredients and a grain-to-glass approach to spirits. Rye, bourbon and malt whisky variations are available from the distiller, while cocktails are served in the stillhouse.
3. Peekskill Brewery
This brewery rests along the east side of the Hudson River (dare we say picturesque?) in downtown Peekskill. An outdoor area and indoor tasting room (with delicious bites!) are always bustling and for good reason—the beer is damn good here. Sours, IPAs, Pilsners—Peekskill Brewery has it all. The best part? You don’t really need to go anywhere else, making this a great train ride from New York City. While the brewery has food, downtown is a few steps away with bars, coffee shops and other eateries (Hello, Taco Dive Bar) for a full-on fall day in Hudson Valley.
4. Robibero Winery
Everywhere you park yourself, the views at Robibero Winery are unparalleled. Sit on the grass surrounded by grapes, where bringing your own food for picnicking is allowed, or reserve a spot on the deck, for a view of the vines which spans as far as the eye can see (but only food purchased on-site is allowed). A tasting of four glasses is $20 per person, but the wine here is so good you’ll want more than one. Sip on the brand’s award-winning 87 series of wine (North and South!), or stunning dry Riesling, which is perfect for this time of year. Stay for the sunset, you won’t be sorry.
5. The Spirits Lab
In downtown Newburgh, just across the street from where George Washington’s headquarters were, is The Spirits Lab. The distillery makes bourbon, rye, gin and vodka, so there is something for everyone, but its bottled cocktails and tasting house are where the real experience lies. Switched out seasonally, you may still be able to order a hibiscus cosmopolitan or a fiery passion on the menu, but trust us, you’ll want to check in on what’s new. Or go classic with a tart cherry Manhattan or Blood Orange Old Fashioned. The almost 360-degree views of the Hudson River and surrounding foliage won’t hurt, either.
6. Angry Orchard Cider House
Cider and views, could you get any more autumnal? We think not. And it’s not just the traditional cider you’ll find at this outpost of the major Angry Orchard brand. There are experimental and small-batch sips for you here, too. Try the Wooden Sleeper for a new twist on cider, give ice cider a try (like ice wine but better) or see what’s on tap. And if you love it, you can join the cider club and enjoy some of those exclusive drinks at home, well after the foliage has died out. Grab a pizza, get a pour and sit on the expansive lawn, taking in all of the area’s stunning fall colors.
7. Taconic Distillery
Is there anything more beautiful than cocktails in a red barn? Yes, there is—cocktails in a red barn during fall. Taconic Distillery, also known for bourbon and whisky varieties, offers the very best of the season from the entrance alone. The tasting room, which is only open on Saturdays, does not require reservations (score) and is on a first-come, first-serve basis. Take a tour, grab a seasonal cocktail thought up by chief mixologist Carol Ann, scout out a spot on the expansive patio, play some lawn games or warm yourself at the fire pit overlooking the scenic farmland. No food on site, but outside is allowed. Beer, wine and soft drinks are also served in the tasting room, too, for those who are laying off the hard stuff. Even better? Fido can tag along, too, as dogs are allowed on the property.
8. Benmarl Winery
On a deck overlooking a river and a mountain is the best spot at Benmarl Winery, which claims to be the oldest vineyard in America. Head up a dirt road that you’re not sure is the right one (it is, we promise) and see this Italian-style villa which sits atop a little hill. Make a reservation for the best seating, as walk-ins have a smaller spot for vast mountain viewing. Not only could you sit here all day for the view, but the food and beverage options are delicious. There are lots of different pizzas for you to try, and Benmarl doesn’t skimp on the charcuterie board, either. The best part? You order at the tent and they give you a buzzer to alert you when your food is ready, so no need to stand and wait. While the winery is known for its Estate Baco Noir made from 60-year-old vines, it is phasing out the grapes to make room for new ones. So, definitely give this a try while you can. Other notable sippers include the Cabernet Franc Petillant and Estate Cabernet Franc.
9. Tuthilltown Spirits Distillery
Tuthilltown Spirits Distillery is home to Hudson Whiskey, which has been making waves in the spirits industry. Open for bar service and tastings, there are so many reinvented Hudson Whiskey variants to try, such as Bright Lights Big Bourbon, Do The Rye Thing, Short Stack, and Backroom Deal. Or, take home a bottle of the Half Moon Orchard Gin or Apple Vodka, which are sold exclusively at the distillery. Ample outdoor seating is also available, so you don’t have to miss a moment of fall weather. Even cooler? The Tuthilltown Gristmill was also the longest continuously operating gristmill in New York State history and given a spot on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. Historic, delicious and a great view? We call this a win-win-win.
10. Hudson Valley Brewery
If we said the beer lured us in, we would be lying. It was definitely Instagram. Nestled in Beacon, N.Y., Hudson Valley Brewery has plenty of pre-happy hour trails to hike and great vantage points for leaf-peeping. Then settle in for some of the most interesting beers the Hudson Valley has to offer. Sours are big, here, with a sour farmhouse ale and several sour IPAs available, but the brewery actually has an extra impressive and varied selection. Stouts, IPAs, lagers and even hard seltzers are available to quench anyone’s thirst. An outdoor patio is open on weekends to soak up that last bit of fall sunshine.
11. Orange County Distilling
Whether it’s beautifully crisp fall day or a bit gloomy, Orange County Distilling is the perfect solution. Outfitted in an old brown barn, the Distillery has a stunning seating area with lights and a wood-burning stove for that super-cozy feel. A stage that is often occupied by live music and a sliding barn door that opens up to wide open spaces makes this the perfect place to sit and sip. Try the Field 47 for that perfect fall feeling, or go classic with an Old Fashioned.
12. Kingston Wine Co.
OK, maybe you want to take a bottle with you hiking. Or for a picnic. We get it, you don’t always want to stay in one place. Check out Kingston Wine Co. where proprietor Michael Drapkin procures one of the most unique wine selections around. An organic Riesling sits alongside skin contact sippers, as the store puts an emphasis on biodynamic, organic, and natural wines. Bonus: All of these wines are affordable, as Drapkin notes that you don’t have to spent a lot of money to drink exquisite wines. You’ll definitely leave with a bottle for your picnic and probably some for later, too.
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