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Happy Trail: Hudson-Berkshire Beverage Trail to Launch in April

Rural Intelligence FoodChristopher Matthews, a wine and spirits writer and educator, divides his time between Manhattan and Red Hook, Dutchess County. He has been the wine and spirits columnist for New York Law Journal Magazine since 2004, and has written about food and drink for Epicurious.com and the Culinary Institute of America. A member of the Wine Media Guild of New York, he has judged at the Hudson Valley Wine Competition, and has a keen appreciation for local (spirituous) beverages. He reports:
 
In a clear boost to local tourism and our region’s artisanal food and beverage scene, six partners—four wineries, a brewery and a distillery—have joined forces to establish the Hudson-Berkshire Beverage Trail (HBBT). It will formally launch on April 10th with a Pasta and Sauce event, featuring beverage flights paired with pasta dishes at each stop along the trail. 
 
Spanning three counties and two states, the HBBT has two main axes: one running south from Rensselaer County, southeast of Albany, down through Columbia County to Germantown, near Hudson; the other heading east from Chatham into Berkshire County, ending in New Marlborough, MA. Discussions with the Department of Transportation and the New York State Agriculture and Markets Department on road signage for the trail are underway.
 
Rural Intelligence FoodThe founding partners include: Brookview Station Winery (top photo),Castleton-on-Hudson, NY, a bemedaled producer of fruit wines, cider and baked goods; Harvest Spirits,Valatie, NY, a micro-distillery that produces “Core,” an award-winning vodka made from local apples; Chatham Brewing (right), Chatham, NY, an all-natural “nano-brewer” of craft beers; Hudson-Chatham Winery, Ghent, NY, a producer of small batch wines from local and regional grapes, as well as cheeses and desserts;  Tousey Winery, whose Germantown-based owner, beekeeper-farmer Ray Tousey is a mainstay at local farmers’ markets with his displays of bees, honey, small fruits and wines; Furnace Brook Winery, located at Hilltop Orchards, a scenic 100-year old farm in Richmond, MA; and Les Trois Emme Vineyard and Winery (below), nestled in New Marlborough, MA, east of Great Barrington.
 
It’s no secret that tourists flock to wine trails. New York State alone has eleven existing wine trails across its five major wine regions, including two in the Hudson Valley, the Dutchess and Shawangunk Wine Trails. Until now only one of the NY trails, the Lake Erie Wine Trail, has been interstate, encompassing New York and Pennsylvania wineries. And heretofore, there has only been one multiple beverage trail in New York, the Cooperstown Beverage Trail, anchored by Brewery Ommegang, the acclaimed Belgium-style ale producer. The HBBT’s innovation: it’s New York’s first ever interstate beverage trail, featuring wine, beer, spirits and cider.
 
Rural Intelligence Food HBBT co-founders Carlo De Vito (Hudson-Chatham Winery, left) and Sue Goold (Brookview Station Winery) came to the wine trail idea around the same time. Both were aware of how important such trails are for small wineries.  Both had considered the number of new local wineries slated to come on line soon.  And both understood that the region’s prime location between New York City, Albany and Boston was a huge asset. Columbia-County-based DeVito had been exploring joining an existing trail, such as Dutchess, while Goold, whose vineyard is one county north in Renssalaer, had been aiming to create a new one for the area, incorporating the successful Harvest Spirits distillery and Chatham Brewing as well.  Once each heard of the other’s plan, they decided to combine efforts. But DeVito pushed the beverage trail concept a step further, extending it to the Berkshires, because he and Furnace Brook Winery were already sending each other customers. In fact, said De Vito, “the Upper Hudson Valley and the Berkshires are inextricably linked. In the summer, we have customers in the summer who are coming out of Tanglewood and the Berkshires all the time. And it’s nothing for folks up here to go out to dinner in Pittsfield or Great Barrington.”
 
Rural Intelligence FoodDuring the research phase for the trail, Carlo DeVito and his wife, Dominique, visited the Cooperstown Beverage Trail. Impressed, they used Cooperstown as a model for the HBBT. But Hudson-Berkshire plans to go its own, ambitious way. “We have a number of farms, creameries and CSAs around here, and we really want to form a trail that calls on the culinary firepower of the region,” said De Vito.  Accordingly, associate and friend-of-trail memberships are available to compatible businesses. Twin Maple Farm, “a pampered cow creamery” that has already signed on as a “friend” of the HBBT.
 
“We feel like this can become the ultimate culinary destination in the northeast,” DeVito says. Here! Here! —Christopher Matthews
  
Hudson Berkshire Beverage Trail Pasta and Sauce Event
Saturday, April 10; noon - 5:30 p.m.
Tickets may be purchased on day of tour at all participating trail locations
Trail passport/$15, includes tasting flights of wine, beer or spirits plus free pasta
Designated Driver Passport/$5, includes complimentary pasta
Individual locations/normal tasting fees apply

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