Whitecliff Vineyard in Gardiner broke new ground for the region’s wine industry recently when co-owner, Michael Migliore, was singled out to receive the New York State Wine and Grape Foundation’s 2015 Grower of the Year award. This is particularly significant because the bulk of the state’s acreage of winegrapes is in the Finger Lakes and Long Island.
Migliore’s award recognizes his work on Whitecliff’s 26-acre home vineyard, but also more widely in the Hudson Valley. At Whitecliff, he has worked over more than three decades to establish a vineyard on former dairy land. Through experimentation, he has found grape varieties that survive the cold, and also produce high-quality wine.
Noteworthy successes are Traminette, a cold-hardy hybrid developed at Cornell for which Whitecliff has received multiple gold medals at the prestigious San Francisco International Wine Competition. Also Gamay Noir, a grape commonly associated with the Beaujolais region of France, has been a success at the Gardiner Vineyard: Whitecliff just received a coveted 90-point rating for its Gamay in the December issue of Wine Enthusiast magazine.
Beyond the Whitecliff home vineyard, Migliore has set out over many years to promote broader planting of wine grapes by farmers in the Hudson Valley based on his knowledge that there simply are not enough grapes grown in the region to meet the winemaking needs of local wineries. He consults on establishment of new vineyards, and serves as the president of the Hudson Valley Wine and Grape Association. Along the way, he has helped both apple growers and a grass-fed beef farmer to add acreage of grapes.
According to statistics available from the New York Wine and Grape Foundation, only 235 of the state’s 14,000 acres are in the Hudson Valley, while more than 9,000 are in the Finger Lakes, and over 2,000 are on Long Island.
Whitecliff is a 15-year old 7,000 case family-owned winery in Gardiner, increasingly recognized for producing fine wine. In 2010, its Riesling was awarded a Double Gold and Best White in Show over 1,300 entries from all over the world at the San Francisco International Wine Competition, and in 2011, its Reserve Chardonnay, and Awosting White each won Best in Category at the Atlantic Seaboard Competition.
Whitecliff is located at 331 McKinstry Road in Gardiner. Visit whitecliffwine.com.
Photo: Receiving the New York Grape Grower of the Year Award is Michael Migliore, owner of Whitecliff Vineyard, center; shown with Jim Trezise, president of the New York Wine and Grape Foundation; and Kim Wagner, owner of Stoutridge Vineyard and Foundation board member.