Tantillo's Farm

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Business Review & Forecast: Local food and drink can fill your plates and glasses, Author Ariel Zangla

Area residents who want to be locavores have plenty of locally grown fruit and vegetables from which to choose, as well as locally produced wines and spirits to pair with their meals.

And in some cases, the local vintages are being produced using corn or fruit grown on nearby farms.

At Tuthilltown Spirits in Gardiner, owners Ralph Erenzo and Brian Lee recently celebrated 10 years in business. The craft distillery makes whiskey, vodka, gin and Cassis, Erenzo said, and is working on a Hudson Valley apple brandy. At least 75 percent of the raw materials used to produce those spirits are grown in New York, he said.

The whiskeys, for example, are made from corn grown at Tantillo’s Farm in Gardiner, Erenzo said, and Tuthilltown Spirits produces a gin that is made from 80 percent wheat and 20 percent apples. He said apples for the gin come from Jenkins and Lueken Orchards in New Paltz and Dressel Farm in Gardiner.

“It’s good for the local farms and it’s good for us,” Erenzo said.

While some of its raw materials come from the local market, Tuthilltown Spirits’ products are being distributed on a larger scale. Erenzo said the distillery’s first successful product was its whiskey and now its Hudson Whiskey brand is being distributed internationally by William Grant & Sons.

Erenzo said the spirits also are sold on site at the distillery. He said he and his partner lobbied for the state Farm Distillery Act, which passed in 2007, allowing them to open their shop, have tastings and sell directly to consumers. That increased tourism in the area and helps local restaurants too, Erenzo said.

Jessica Ridgeway, whose grandparents Beverly and Leonard Tantillo own Tantillo’s Farm, said the business has 120 acres and grows a variety of fruits and vegetables, including corn, apples, pumpkins, carrots and peppers.

“We primarily sell locally,” Ridgeway said. “We do bring some apples to the city, but that’s it.” She said the farm also sells to other local businesses and makes an apple crisp for P&G’s Restaurant in New Paltz.

Ridgeway said the farm, on state Route 208, attracts locals who buy directly from the business and that the pick-your-own aspect of the farm attract a lot of people from the New York City area.

Across the river in Tivoli, Ken Migliorelli said his Migliorelli Farm has approximately 600 acres. He said some 350 acres are used for mixed vegetables, while 100 are used for mixed fruit and 200 are for grain.

“Probably 90 percent of what we sell is sold retail,” Migliorelli said. He said his products are sold at approximately 30 farmers’ markets in New York City, as well as Dutchess, Ulster, Rockland and Westchester counties. Migliorelli said the business also has three roadside farm stands.

At El Paso Winery in Ulster Park, owner Mary Vogel said she only makes wines from New York grapes. She said the finished product is sold throughout the state and sometimes out of state. Vogel said hers is probably one of the smallest wineries in the area and produces about 1,600 cases of wine each year.

In Dutchess County, Clinton Vineyards owner Phyllis Feder said her winery uses only grapes they grow and is therefore 100 percent estate-bottled. She said Clinton Vineyards specializes in white wine, sparking wine and dessert wine. The dessert wines are made with locally sourced fruits, Feder added.

And like Tuthilltown Spirits, Clinton Vineyards’ products are sold beyond the local area. Feder said her wines are sold across the country and that she has customers who have come from France to buy the Cassis and bubbly wines. She said the Cassis, made from black currants, is the only one made in the United States to win gold medals in international competition.

Feder said the Hudson Valley now is being recognized for some of the good wines made here. She said it also is nice to have the different kinds of vineyards in the region, each specializing in different products.

“You want to establish an environment of cooperation, not competition,” Feder said.

She also said the wineries want to encourage tourism through their great products and need community support. Feder said most of the wineries do not have distributors and need the support of local businesses and restaurants to buy their products and expand their reach.