The Minnewaska Lodge in Gardner, New York, is a tranquil country retreat with 26 unique rooms. It offers access to outdoor recreation, such as hiking near the Shawangunk Mountains and fishing along the Hudson River. A 90-minute drive outside of New York City, the facility stands out for its beautiful mountain scenery and the quiet serenity of its natural surroundings.
It’s also located near the Shawangunk Wine Trail, which features a dozen wineries and distilleries of varying sizes. Minnewaska Lodge is closest to Tuthilltown Spirits Distillery, but these six wineries can also be accessed along the I-84.
1. Angry Orchard
Best known for its Angry Orchard Hard Cider, which includes flavors such as crisp apple and pear cider, this Shawangunk Wine Trail member business sits on a 60-acre plot of land that features a 100-year-old apple orchard, cider garden, and tasting room. The orchard itself has been used for farming since the 18th century, while the region in which it is located was replete with cider apple orchards prior to prohibition.
Visitors can tour the facility and check out where and how the business’ innovative ciders are created. They will also receive a complimentary flight with three Angry Orchard varieties. Angry Orchard also hosts seasonal events and offers food such as wood-fired pizza and cheese boards.
2. Stoutridge Vineyard
Located in Marlboro, Stoutridge Vineyard offers an array of European-inspired wines, but largely stands out for its vinification. Built on the site of a prohibition era distillery, Stoutridge doesn’t filter or add chemicals to its wines nor does it use pumps. Instead, it produces its wine via gravity and generates all of its electrical needs through photovoltaic solar panels on its south-facing roof.
However, choosing to forgo machine methods in favor of a gravity-flow production system wasn’t just an environmentally conscious choice. The wine also tastes fresher, according to Stoutridge owner Stephen Osborn.
“Lack of pumping and filtration helps to retain the dissolved [carbon dioxide] from fermentation in the finished wine, which alters the flavor profile globally,” he explained to Wine Enthusiast Magazine in 2019. “So it’s a texture value, dissolved gasses, affecting the entire flavor profile of the wine. It becomes fresher tasting and more vibrant.”
3. Warwick Valley Winery & Distillery
Launched in 1994, Warwick Valley Winery & Distillery is situated on more than 120 acres of orchards, gardens, and manicured grounds. It boasts a critically-acclaimed wine collection produced with locally sourced ingredients.
The winery is best known for its award-winning flagship Doc’s Draft Hard Cider, which is made with apples, raspberries, and pears, among other ingredients. This cider and the assortment of wines, as well as its selection of bourbon and fruit brandies, can be sampled at its tasting room, which is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., 362 days per year.
Guests can enjoy the orchard and facility at their own pace. To that end, visitors are permitted to pick their own apples in the fall against the backdrop of the scenic Hudson Valley views. They can even do so while sampling some of the brand’s wines or sangria. The orchard boasts in excess of 65 apple tree varieties with different flavors, textures, and shades.
Warwick Valley Winery & Distillery also operates a patio cafe with food items, including brick-oven pizza, created from local ingredients. It hosts musicians and bands on its patio in the summer and in its dining room during winter months.
4. Clearview Vineyard
This family owned and operated winery in Warwick, produces eight varieties of red and white dry wines. In the past, it has been listed among the top 25 vineyards in the US by Yelp and Travel & Leisure Magazine.
Like the Warwick Valley Winery & Distillery, music is an important element at Clearview Vineyard. From 2 to 5 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday, it offers live music specially selected appetizers for certain wines. Food options include cheese and fruit boards and sliced baguette.
5. Demarest Hill Winery & Distillery
Demarest Hill Winery & Distillery is the largest of the wineries along the Shawangunk Wine Trail with more than 90 flavors of wine as well as distilled spirits and brandy. The winery was launched by Francesco Ciummo in 1998 after the Italian native grew restless in retirement. It is located on a 135-acre plot of land in Warwick, which Ciummo purchased in 1982, and is open daily from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
6. Baldwin Vineyards
Baldwin Vineyards differs from the others on this list as, in addition to live music, it has several large screen TVs and games for a less reserved atmosphere. A second-generation, family-owned business in Pine Bush, it has been in operation since 1982 and features award-winning Riesling, merlot, strawberry, and raspberry wines. Its spiced apple wine, created with local apples, earned Best Fruit Wine distinction and received gold medals in international and New York State competitions.