Walk into just about any Hudson Valley restaurant, wine shop or wine festival and ask for one of their best bottles of local wine. Chances are you’ll get a glass of Whitecliff Wines.
Whitecliff, is one of the few Hudson Valley Wineries that’s omnipresent throughout the region putting out 5,500 cases a year.
Whitecliff Winery originally started out as a dairy farm. Owner Michael Migliore, bought the sprawling 26-acre property in 1979 and slowly transformed the land into a vineyard.
“When you come here its always beautiful.”
The Migliore family includes wine maker Michael, wife Yancey who does their distributing and their son Tristan.
The family is hands on in the farming and harvesting of the grapes. Originally they worked the first 10 acres themselves, but now they bring in additional help to get the crop in on time.
In 1999, the Migliore’s opened their tasting room. It’s a cozy space, which isn’t intended for major gatherings like weddings or live performances. According to Yancey, “We don’t want to be distracted from making really good wine.”
There’s a saying in the winery business, “In a good year the wine is made in the vineyard, in a bad year the wine is made by the wine maker.”
It was Michael’s German grandfather that taught him the winemaking craft. It’s that entrepreneurial spirit that led him to be the wineries ‘everything man.’ Not only does he make the wines, he also farms and repairs the equipment.
Not all Whitecliff wines are made from grapes grown on the Migliore’s farm. Fingerlakes and Long Island grapes make up the some of the wines. Different regions, Yancey explains, produce different acidity levels in grapes with adds to the variety and body of their wines. This does not mean Whitecliff doesn’t have its own selection to choose from, the vineyard produces more than 20 different types of grapes, many of which are hybrids.
At Whitecliff, Yancy says their wine making process includes adding sugar to the yeast to make alcohol. It's not like their pouring bags of refined sugar into thier wines, they also keep on hand süssreserve (that's German for "sweet reserve"). It's used with German-style wines like Riesling and enhances the natural sweetness of a wine, delicately.
Whitecliff Vineyard and Winery, like so many others in the Hudson Valley is run and worked on by the owners. A lot of the bigger industrialized vineyards out West are less likely to have that same personal touch.
Yancey says what she likes most is, “There’s a sense of community with other business in the area. We really have created something of value here.”
As Whitecliff expands, there’re helping to drive the reputation (and economy) of the region, which is also really cool.