All posts by jotapscott

Millbrook Wine Make Me Feel So Fine


I had the great pleasure of spending the Sunday after Founder’s Day touring the grounds of the Millbrook Vineyards and Winery. Tucked away in rural Millbrook, Dutchess County, Millbrook Vineyards and Winery provides a beautiful escape into the comparatively unknown wine country of the  Hudson River Valley. I’ve never associated the Hudson Valley with wine.  Images of family farms, particularly apple orchards, dominante my perspective of agriculture in the Hudson Valley. Although different, I believe the Millbrook Vineyards and Winery situates nicely within this category of experiential, boutique agriculture.

Although I am senior, the idea of visiting a vineyard in the Hudson Valley had never occurred to me until confronting ideas of local agriculture in our ENST course. Dutchess Wine Trail signs along Route 44 have consistently reminded me of the presence of vineyards in the area, but they never succeeded in garnering significant interest among myself and friends. In fact, they generally only succeeded in generating ridicule or disbelief. Only after my recent visit to Millbrook am I aware of just how wrong I had been to  dismiss the Hudson Valley wine scene so quickly these past four years.

Although located only 30 minutes from Vassar’s campus, Millbrook’s Vineyard is both remote and stunning. Millbrook’s Vineyard and Winery is accessible by means of a gravel road that leads directly through the 130-acre site.  Just the drive to the entrance was enough to make me rethink my unknowledgeable, preconceived notions of what a Hudson Valley vineyard might entail.


The Millbrook Vineyard distinguishes itself from typical produce, livestock farms in an essential way.  Growing grapes and producing wine is a textbook example of value-added agriculture. Wine production typifies the amenity economy.  Millbrook is a place to be experienced and enjoyed.  Visitors to Millbrook consume much more than wine. They consume place in the form of the idyllic vineyard and wine.  Millbrook is something to be experienced. Minutes into my tour it was clear that discussing agriculture or grape cultivation would not be the focus.  Wine production and consumption, rather, is at the heart of Millbrook’s mission. Upon discovering the background of Millbrook’s founder, John Dyson, this came as no surprise.  Dyson formerly served as the Commissioner of the New York State Department of Commerce.  In fact, Dyson is the creator of the ubiquitous  “I ♥ NY” campaign. Tourism drives Millbrook.


By no means do I intend to condemn Millbrook’s push for agritourism.  Millbrook has tapped into the market for Hudson Valley experiential agriculture.  This is not at all dissimilar to pick-your-own orchards. To this goal, Millbrook succeeds. My trip to Millbrook was wonderful and I recommend it to all.  I spent several hours on site. My visit began with a tasting of six varieties of wine produced on site. Although the samples were predominantly white wines, I was pleased with the variety of wines produced and offered. I was then given a twenty minute tour of the wine production process. This included trips to the bottling and barrel rooms.  My favorite portion of the visit, though, was the walking trail through the property.  This provided an up close view of the vines and wonderful views of the property.

Millbrook deserves a visit from Hudson Valley residents. Ask me, I’d go again.






Migliorelli Farm

IMG_5426(PC: Leonard)

This past Friday we visited our last agricultural site, Migliorelli Farm. Located in Red Hook, Migliorelli Farm was by far the largest farm our course visited. Although large for the Hudson Valley, Migliorelli Farm remains small in relation to typical farms in other regions of the U.S. Despite its size, Migliorelli Farm continues to maintain its family values, as evidenced by its CEO (and our lovely tour guide), Ken Migliorelli. Ken demonstrated his deep passion for agriculture as he drove us around the 500 acre farm that hosts 130 different varieties of fruits and vegetables.

Due to the farm’s expansive acreage, Ken drove our class in one of several buses as he explained the breakdown of his business. We saw everything from kale to apples to tomatoes.  Despite the magnitude and diversity of crops, Ken displayed an unmatched expertise in innovative agricultural strategies. Although he’s in his 40th season, Ken continues to experiment with his techniques and learn from the newest methods. One such method is high-density Stone Fruit production.  Drawing from his travels in Italy, Ken has begun a process of consolidating apple and pear orchards.  In doing so, he is able to obtain more output without further strain on the land and less labor involvement. 

IMG_6633(Our trusty bus. PC: John)

Another strategy he showed us was for his tomato fields. Each tomato plant has a plastic water-filled bag covering it, acting as a shield to outside weather and maintaining a stable temperature for the plant to grow in. Pictured below is Ken explaining this new experimental farming technique:

IMG_6631(PC: John)


While Migliorelli Farm has grown into an expansive business, Ken expressed his pride in the fact that his produce never travels farther than New York City. The farm distributes both locally and in New York City through 30 fresh markets every week. In addition to the markets, Migliorelli owns three separate farm stands in the Hudson Valley, each of which is open daily and is run by Ken’s wife and daughter. The remainder is sold as wholesale produce, but this represents the lowest percentage of total profits.

IMG_6639(Fun at a Migliorelli Farm Stand. PC: John)

Now that he feels he has reached his production goals in growing fruits and vegetables, Ken explained to us that he is beginning to experiment with peripheral projects, including brewing beer, building an event space, and pick-your-own style harvesting. Rather than simply functioning as a typical farm, Ken plans to extract more value from his land and products.  He wishes to mirror the techniques of smaller farms in the region; farms can generate revenue from means beyond their crops.  A dilapidated barnhouse need not waste away.  Such facilities can serve as an event space for private parties and weddings, which his daughter and wife plan to act as coordinators of.


Overall, our Migliorelli Farm experience was undoubtedly enjoyable and educational.  Ken demonstrates a passion for maximizing output while keeping his produce both local and accessible to the Hudson Valley community. While Migliorelli Farm is large, the farm maintains its familial charm.


Visiting a farm can work up an appetite and “Holy Cow” were we hungry for ice cream! It’s a shame that this semester and Field Experiences in the Hudson Valley have come to an end. We loved #ENST291 #HudsonValley #localfood and #NevarezIMG_5438

(PC: Baynard)

Cowboy John

Hello! My name is John Tapscott and I’m a senior from Tupelo, Mississippi.  I study economics and German studies, but now it’s time I finally learn more about the Hudson Valley. Here’s a pic of me with a Swiss Brown cow at Stormfield Swiss Dairy Farm.