Visitors to Westfall Winery descend into the building's secret barrel room to taste fruit-packed potables from Westfall's extensive wine list, all crafted with Old World wine-making techniques amid the picturesque greenery of Sussex County. Inside French oak barrels, fermented grapes age into velvety cabernet sauvignon, local blueberries age into slightly tart blueberry wine, and young castaways age into colorful, barrel-dwelling philosophers. Sated oenophiles can step outside to Westfall Winery’s picnic area to relish a grilled hot dog and homemade chili, and tour the winery’s sparkling pond and white picket fences. At the end of the event, guests can take home a bottle or a case ($12.50+), then use the empty bottles to build a glass-bottomed lifeboat.
Inspired by his grandfather’s legacy of superior wine crafting, Harry Robibero took the first step in rebooting the family tradition by buying 42 acres of property in the Hudson River Valley with his wife Carole in 2003. He couldn't start harvesting any grapes just yet, however—there was already an operational winery on the premises. He bided his time, waiting for the opportunity to fill his home's glasses and well-concealed flasks with his own cask-aged creations. In 2007, the original winery announced that it was vacating the acreage, opening the door for Harry to finally cut the ribbon on his family's very own vino haven.
After years of revamping the property, the family now welcomes visitors to savor red and white artisan wines by the bottle or glass while playing board games, watching sports on the 52-inch TV, warming up by the indoor fireplace, or listening to music during one of the winery's weekly events. The Robiberos also helm tasting sessions, in which oenophiles can sample a lineup of their expertly handcrafted libations. During the warmer months, they open the outdoor patio so that their guests can sip on sangria or wine while overlooking the lush vineyards speckled across the fertile valley.
The smile on Yancey's face as she holds her double gold-winning riesling up to the camera is infectious. It perfectly captures the love, dedication, and immense pride she and her husband Michael take in crafting their well-received bottles of wine at Whitecliff Vineyard.
Their artisanal labors of love started more than 30 years ago when Michael decided to transform an empty field into a winery. Following the traditions of his winemaking grandfathers and armed with a master's degree in organic chemistry, he started experimenting with grape growing. Determined to produce wines that would rival European classics, he eventually expanded his vineyard to contain more than 20 varieties of grapes, each with an uncanny resemblance to the American flag.
Today, he and Yancey sell their wines in farmers' markets and stores from Albany to New York City. They also invite visitors to stop by their scenic winery for wine and cheese pairings or events that include art openings.
Wine producers from across New York gather at the Putnam County Wine & Food Fest each year, bottles of their finest reds and whites in tow. A variety of local artisans join them, peddling everything from handmade crafts to fresh produce to fiery Indian snacks. As vendors hawk their wares and guests sample sips in the wine and beer gardens, live musicians send festive tunes booming across the fairgrounds.
Manhattan native and restaurant industry veteran Ed Reinle worked in Thai restaurants for much of his career. There, he developed a palate and an appreciation for the balanced flavors, healthy eating, and vibrant colors of that country's cuisine. Each meal is a visually stunning, artfully arranged paean to Thai authenticity, with dishes such as red and green curry, crispy tamarind duck, and veggie-peppered fried rice and noodle dishes. Salads and small plates entice visitors with crispy green papaya, grilled chicken satay, and lightly fried spring rolls, and tom kha and tom yum soups tickly olfactory senses with aromas of galangal and lemongrass.
Reinle works alongside his wife, Toula, cultivating a friendly, laid-back lounge atmosphere. The duo pour Thai-inspired cocktails such as cosmopolitans made with spiced rum and ginger and dessert martinis made with sweet, creamy thai coffee.