- Courtesy of Brunette Wine Bar
The rise of the farm-to-table restaurant movement brought a renewed scrutiny of ingredients and a return to more wholesome methods of food preparation. In the Hudson Valley, many restaurants have also begun applying this ethos to their wine list curation on the principle that wine should be as fresh and unadulterated as the food it accompanies. Enter natural wines.
While the term “natural wine” is still being clearly defined, the gist is that there is as little human intervention in the fermentation process as possible. These wines are produced on-site using grapes grown with organic and biodynamic farming methods. Natural wine-makers stay away from any additives like manufactured yeasts, processing aids, and stabilizers such as sulfur. This movement has sparked terminology like “real wine”, “raw wine,” and “glou-glou,” and the most die-hard fans generally eschew conventional wines.
With an abundance of local farms and vineyards and access to New York City’s international import market, the Hudson Valley is well positioned to dish up both locally made and international natural wines alongside its farm-fresh cuisine. Whether you’re a diehard fan or a natural wine newb, here are five Hudson Valley restaurants with great natural wine lists.
- Courtesy of Fish & Game
R & R Taproom104 Mill Hill Road, Woodstock, NY
R & R Taproom in Woodstock is known for its incredible beer selection and vegetarian-friendly small plates. Owned by cicerone Megan Reynolds, beer is obviously an important part of R&R’s business model, but she felt there was a place for a natural wine program as well. “We focus on local food and care a lot about the process by which it's produced, so it seemed like a natural extension to apply that ethos to our wine program,” says Reynolds. “Beer can be tricky around the idea of terroir, but the wine, in many ways, is more straightforward in that regard and we wanted to embrace sustainable producers.” The creekside outdoor setting or the chic and colorful interior are the perfect spots to enjoy a glass of Eminence Road Pinot Noir from Long Eddy, NY, the unrefined and unfiltered Pastou Sauvignon Blanc from France, and other raw wines on the list.
Brunette Wine Bar33 Broadway, Kingston, NY
Brunette Wine Bar in Kingston’s Rondout district sits in a former barbershop. It has soft, feminine touches, vintage accents, and whimsical floral arrangements that are as thoughtfully curated as their stellar natural wine list. Jamie and Tracy Kennard had been weekending in the area since 2006 and made Kingston their permanent home in 2014. “When we conceived of Brunette, there wasn't anywhere that we could walk into, pull up a barstool, and order a glass of natural wine,” says Tracy. “We are fortunate to be surrounded by amazing farmers, farm markets, and restaurants that provide us all with true farm-to-table dining. Natural wine is simply the complement: farm-to-glass, if you will.” Stop in for the seasonally available offerings from Wild Arc Farms in Pine Bush and pair it with the butter noodles. (While you're there, head up the block to Kingston Wine Co. to select from their vast selection of hard-to-find natural wines to bring home with you.)
Fish & Game
13 South 3rd Street, Hudson, NY
Fish & Game has been on Wine Enthusiast’s Top 100 Best Restaurant list for years among other awards and honors. Set in a 19th-century blacksmith building in Hudson, the rustic appeal makes dining there very cozy. Natural wine has always been an important part of the Fish & Game experience (chef Zak Pelaccio is the powerhouse behind the annual Peripheral Wine Festival). “If you consider the growing appreciation for all the wonderful small farms in the area, it's easy to see that natural wines come from the exact same philosophical place: small, sustainable production devoted to expressing the purest nature,” says beverage director Lila Holland. “It would make zero sense to pour a mass-produced wine product alongside the gorgeous, hand-raised produce and meat we are so privileged to serve.” While the natural wine list changes often there are some long-standing favorites such as "orange" wines from Gotsa Wines of The Republic of Georgia.
Lis Bar240 Foxhall Ave, Kingston, NY
In 2018, husband and wife Jonathan and Patty Rich, opened Lis, a hip, Polish-inspired tapas bar dishing up craft cocktails and modern takes on traditional Polish dishes. “The original impetus was to focus on natural wines from Eastern and Central Europe that pair really well with our menu,” says wine director, Gabriel Weinstock. “We expanded a bit for the wine by the glass as an accessible way to introduce more people to natural wine.” If you ever wondered what to drink with your bowl of borscht, try a glass of Enlightenment Wines Meadery, who forage and source ingredients for their natural honey wines in the Hudson Valley.
Canoe Hill3264 Franklin Ave, Millbrook, NY
If oysters with wine are your thing, Canoe Hill in Millbrook, is your place. In addition to fresh oysters, Canoe Hill is dedicated to fresh, local ingredients that are sourced from over 30 different farms in the Hudson Valley and western Connecticut. The warm and inviting atmosphere is a great spot to enjoy a spectacular meal paired with a glass of natural wine. Chef and owner, Mike DelGrosso works with local foragers as well as farmers. “Our wine list is roughly 70 percent natural and the rest is sustainable being organic, biodynamic, or practicing,” says DelGrosso. “We didn’t specifically decide to focus Canoe Hill around natural wine, we just prefer more natural methods whether it’s wine, food, or anything else we do at the restaurant.”