About 20 years ago my father, a world traveler, wine enthusiast, and avid bike rider decided to combine his three passions and bike the wine country of France. He still talks about how he would ride up to a winery in the countryside, knock on the door, be greeted by the owners, usually a husband and wife who invited him in for a tasting and would sell him a bottle or two which he would put them in his backpack and go on his way.
I feel like I had that same type of experience when I visited Stoutridge Winery and Distillery. As you ride onto the estate, you are immediately impressed by the beauty of the property and the grandeur of the building, but don't be fooled, Stoutridge is that mom and pop winery, with a real personal touch.
Stoutridge is located in Marlboro, a majestic area full of fruit and vegetable farms scattered among the rolling hills. The area is rich in history for winemaking, in fact, the oldest vineyard in America is just down the road, at the neighboring Benmarl winey.
Stoutridge is rich in its own history, because they are making natural wine like it was made way back when. The wines are made with no chemicals, pumps, or filters, which in today’s winemaking is almost unheard of. In fact, “for the first 9 years that we were here, we were the only American winery who didn’t chemically process wine” co-owner Stephen Osborn told me.
Stephen Osborn and Kimberly Wagner, bought the winery in 2001. “We started this winery to show people what wines taste like without any chemicals, but I could show them what wine used to taste like.” Osborn told me. “We actually bought this property because it had a living history of the way we wanted to make wine, in a time when wines were made naturally.”
Apparently in 1902, a Sicilian immigrant named Vincente Morano, built a winery on the property to make Sicilian-style wines in Marlboro. By Prohibition in 1920, they tore down the winery. All that remained when Osborn and Wagner purchased the property was one of the foundation walls which is incorporated into the beautiful new building’s front patio.
I asked Osborn how all-natural wines differ from other wines out there. “We do minimal chemical processing to our wines. So, when a grape is squashed we capture the flavor of that grape. We do not "fine" our wines with gelatins, tannins or clays. We do not add water or sugar, nor do we chemically adjust the acidity of our wines. Sulfites and sorbates are never added before or after our wines are made. Stoutridge wines are natural and honor the processes used by farmers and winemakers from hundreds of years ago. Our goal is for you to taste the natural flavors of our fermented grapes and the land from which our grapes were grown”.
As winemakers, Osborn and Wagner also have an ethical commitment to the land and environment. Their mission is to be good stewards of the land and operate environmentally conscientiously, putting in place systems that promote sustainability in agriculture and the environment. This means their wines are almost always from fruits and grapes grown with 1.5 miles from their estate. The wine cellar is built into the hillside to keep cool, they use solar generated energy and a heat exchange system is in place to heat the building and walkways in the winter.
“All of our electricity is from solar. We don’t have any energy costs. We’re built into a hill where it’s all sustainable. The building of the winery took years of planning so that each and every piece of the sustainability concept could be in place right from the beginning.” Believe me when I say, there was not one detail left out. This means that they use Gravity Flow system and man-powered pullies to move the products through the winemaking process.
So, where can you find their wines? For that you must go to the vineyard itself, and believe me, that is not a bad thing. It is a fun place to spend an afternoon. You won't find them in a store because the wines are not processed. This means the pectins that accumulate are not removed, which is standard in today’s wine-making process. With out the pectins being remove the wines cannot withstand any heat. This makes transporting them a challenge because delivery trucks need to be refrigerated, not to mention that the wines need to handled and stored properly after they reach their destination.
At the winery, all wines are available by the bottle or case. They offer a wide selection, including whites, reds and rosés, They offer personalized tours and tastings Friday - Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
As you may have guessed by the article's title, Stoutridge is also a distillery. Last year they started distilling spirits. It was always in the plans as a back-up if the winery concept failed. “We thought, well, if it fails, we’ll just make the best vodka in the United States” Osborn told me.
The good news, the winery didn’t fail but it also became time to add to their repertoire. Last year they began distilling and now offer a full line of vodkas, brandies, and whiskeys, but that is a story for another time - stay tuned!
In the meantime, head out to Stoutridge and enjoy the beautiful grounds, great wine and spirits, and especially, the hospitality of Stephen and Kimberly.
10 Ann Kaley Lane Marlboro, NY 12542