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Benmarl Winery at Slate Hill Vineyards
K.L. Sullivan

Benmarl Winery at Slate Hill VineyardsSummary: Benmarl Winery has the distinction of having “America’s oldest vineyard.” The property has had vineyards on it since the late 1700’s; although vines have been replaced through the centuries.

The approach to the winery is a long gravel driveway with trees on the right and Baco Noir vines on the left. The tasting room is large with the winery below.

We met and spoke with the winemaker, Kristop Brown, who also maintains the vineyards. Kristop stopped his work in the vineyards to talk about history, hopes and dreams for Benmarl. The vineyards have a special trellising system known as the Hudson River umbrella trellis. Baco Noir is growing here and they chose to continue this variety as a “relic.” The new owners are trying to bring back the heritage of the property. Traminette grows well in this region and Kristop will be planting it in the vineyards next year.

Historically, the property has had vineyards since the late 1700’s when Andrew Jackson Caywood owned it. Mark Miller and his wife purchased the property in 1957. Mark worked to help pass the 1976 New York State farm winery act and Benmarl Winery obtained license No. 1.

Currently Benmarl Winery produces 3,500 cases of wine and seeks to increase its production. While most wine sales are at the winery tasting room, the winery sells to some wine stores and restaurants.

We had a tour of the winery located below the tasting room. The first area is the barrel aging room. This area is reminiscent of wine caves with numerous curved arches. Special events are held in this area. A wine library is in a small iron-gated alcove. The oldest wine dates from 1957. Beyond the barrel storage rooms, there is a large room with stainless steel tanks and a bottling line.

Benmarl Winery at Slate Hill Vineyards     Benmarl Winery at Slate Hill Vineyards

Benmarl Winery at Slate Hill VineyardsWhile in the barrel room, we tasted a few wines from the barrels. The Baco Noir had an earthy aroma with a smooth dark fruit taste. The finish lingered and was nicely balanced. The 2008 Riesling was aging in a barrel and had a straw color. The aroma and taste was fruity. The sweet fruity finish dried on the aftertaste. We tasted a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Syrah. It offered a fruity aroma and taste. The finish was fruity with tannins.

Benmarl Winery at Slate Hill VineyardsAfter touring the winery, we returned to the tasting room and tasted several wines. The light wood tasting counter is curved and wood shaped wine bottles connect sections of the counter. Overhead, two hanging lights of stained glass feature grape clusters. The non-vintage Slate Hill White with 13 percent alcohol was a blend of Chardonnay, Riesling and Traminette. The aroma was floral while the taste offered fruit salad nuances. The finish had citrus fruit. Baco Noir 2007 had a granite translucent color. The aroma was fruity and earthy while the taste was grapey and earthy. The finish offered fruit and mild tannins. Kristop said, “Baco Noir is fun to make.”

The tasting room has ample room to move around while tasting wines. Enjoy a glass of wine and meander through the various wine related items for sale. A selection of gifts to purchase are available and include: hand painted stemware, ceramic wine buckets, grape vine wine coolers, hats with “Benmarl Winery at Slate Hill Vineyards,” glass chimneys for wine bottles, aprons, cloth wine bags and books.

Benmarl Winery at Slate Hill VineyardsOutside the tasting room, there are wonderful views of the vineyards, countryside and Hudson River. Be sure to keep an eye on Benmarl Winery as it continues to re-establish its vineyards and seeks to provide quality wines.

Benmarl Winery at Slate Hill Vineyards
156 Highland Avenue
Marlboro, NY 12542

GPS: N 41º 35.566’ W 73º 58.952’






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