In last week’s column we explored the changing landscape of the farm-to-table diet in the United States. As I’ve roamed the Pleasantville Farmers Market each week, I’ve been observing the changing season’s bounty, especially in the fare offered by Hudson Valley farmers.
More and more local produce, meats, cheeses, baked goods, spices and herbs are coming to market as the growing season advances. And, of course, there is always a Hudson Valley wine producer on the scene, completing the cycle of farm-to-dining repast.
Local products paired with local wines. If it grows together it goes together.
This was the theme of last week’s column.
Over millennia, denizens of small communities experimented with producing compatible food and wine. The ancient Romans perfected this marriage of Mother Nature with man’s nature, coexisting in a symbiotic relationship, introducing the farm-to-table concept. What grows best together goes best together.
Fast forward to the late 20th century when global trading upset the concept of farm to table. Pairings of food and wine were expanded. Now Americans were able to enjoy their Hudson Valley sparkling wine with fresh strawberries from Central America in the deepest winter months and their Hudson Valley Vidal Blanc from Whitecliff Vineyard with fresh tomato-based salads from Mexico year-round.
In the last 10 years, Americans have experienced a return to basics in many parts of the country. Consumers vigorously seek out local fruits and vegetables as alternatives to those imported from other countries, even from other regions of the United States. Farm to table has gained a strong foothold in the diets and preferences of American consumers.
But in this 10-year period, I’ve also noticed a new take on the concept of pairing local ingredients and wine: if it goes together it can grow together.
American farmers and wine producers are experimenting with food and grapes rarely produced locally. As a result, Americans are able to expand their quest for local sources of food and wine.
Gourmet vegetables such as kale and arugula abound in local markets. Varieties of grapes previously grown exclusively in foreign soil now flourish in American vineyards.
I present two examples of the changing landscape of Hudson Valley wine production that enables pairings previously not available.
A grape previously grown primarily in France, Cabernet Franc, is now successfully produced by several vintners in the Hudson Valley.
An excellent, traditional pairing of Cabernet Franc has been with grilled meat. The combination goes very well together. But growing together? It had been difficult to find a top pairing within the confines of the Hudson Valley. No longer. The award-winning Cabernet Franc from Robibero Winery in New Paltz and the hormone-free, antibiotic-free, grass-fed cattle from Kiernan Farm are a locavore’s dream come true.
If it goes together it can grow together.
A grape previously grown exclusively in a small area of Northwestern Spain, Albarino, is produced to high acclaim in Marlboro, a short drive from Westchester County.
Another traditional pairing is a crisp, high minerality wine with a gazpacho produced from the abundance of local highly desirable tomatoes, many of which are heirloom varieties. Such a pairing was not considered feasible due to the difficult environment in which to produce such a wine. But no longer.
The Albarino wine from Fjord Vineyard (one of only a handful available in the United States) and the tomatoes from the sustainable farm of Morgiewicz Produce in Warwick create a new flavor profile not previously available to local-centric gourmands.
Everywhere I venture in the Hudson Valley I am impressed with its growing diversity and the passion of those who work the land to create a local, self-sustaining economy for all of us to enjoy.
Nick Antonaccio is a 40-year Pleasantville resident. For over 25 years he has conducted wine tastings and lectures. Nick is a member of the Wine Media Guild of wine writers. He also offers personalized wine tastings and wine travel services. Nick’s credo: continuous experimenting results in instinctive behavior. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @sharingwine.