Uncorked in New York...

by - Thursday, December 12, 2013

The bridge was closed. Yep, the GPS directions were simple enough and correct, but the bridge was closed. I thought we saw another sign on Route 17 as we steered left, but in the opposite direction. So after a few turns, we followed that sign. We needed to pass over the brook at some point to get to the property on the other side. Okay, as seamen adjust their sails with the wind, we adjusted our ride to the road.

The gate was narrow, allowing for just one car. You could see the stately mansion in the distance. Making a left over the threshold, the tires crunched on the parking gravel. What a beautiful building, the white colonnades and trim outlining this 19th century country estate, standing proud before a deciduous background in afternoon sun. The cold air hurried us to the front door of Hudson Valley's grand jewel. Our appetites were ready to be satiated with food, ambiance and music.

While there are several vineyards scattered along the Hudson a hefty drive from even our neck of the woods, Torne Valley Vineyards is just minutes from our humble abode and so worth the ride, even with the unexpected detour. For those out and about finishing some Christmas shopping, you can easily squeeze a visit to this gem on your way to the Palisades Center. Befitting for us on Saturday since our friend Ed Packer was playing a gig at Torne Valley that afternoon.

Rockland County's only working winery offers tastings open to the public on weekends, Saturday and Sunday from 11am until 5:30pm. For a simple fee of $5 you can sample five of their wines in their period tasting room, from a semi-sweet white, Sweet Summertime, to a dry red, Cabernet Franc. Of the seven wines offered, you can purchase a bottle and afterwards head over to their cafe where the simple luncheon offerings will complete a lovely relaxing afternoon.

But you don't have to be a wine connoisseur to enjoy the serenity of the estate. Sitting in the main dining room, we drank in the ambiance created with wide walnut moldings around each doorway, patterned parquet floor, poinsettia festooned hearth, and the array of floor-length windows behind Ed with the afternoon sunlight pouring through the vintage glass panes. It is elegant, charming, warm and busy! We were there for about an hour and a half and the place was filled with families, couples and small groups of friends from the area and beyond. I enjoyed a chicken panini, Robert had the gnocchi, and Brenna tried the dumplings with a soy dipping sauce, all of which hit the spot. Since we wanted to linger a little longer enjoying another one of Ed's sets, we all had coffee and slices of their decadent chocolate layer cake. Yum! 

I couldn't help but think this would be a great place for a date or a girls' afternoon out, not to mention a wedding or private party. The unique charm of Torn Valley makes a perfect backdrop for special events. From the pictures on their website, this place must be revisited in the summer to appreciate the full effect of the grounds. There is a veranda where guests can enjoy the beauty around them, while warmed with the bounty beheld in the bottle. Every weekend you can relax and enjoy live music while sipping their handcrafted wines, all made one bottle at a time. Our friend Ed Packer played for the entire afternoon from 1 until 5pm. 

Uncorked in New York? You bet! Feels good to drink in the culture while supporting some local business this Holiday season... xoxo-Sonya

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