The Winery as it looks today.
Where is it?
The winery is nestled in the Hudson Valley, in the town of Lloyd, Highland NY
What was it?
It is claimed to be the second oldest winery in the Hudson Valley. It most likely isn’t. It IS, however, one of the oldest wineries still STANDING in the Hudson Valley.
Postcard from Cardcow.com
What’s the story?
The Winery’s story begins far before the Winery itself was started around the early 1900s. The area was extensively used by Native Americans, for thousands of years. Later the Continental Army used the area to spot and stop any British ships from sailing up the Hudson before being settled by a series of people from the late 18th-mid 19th century. The Winery itself sits on "a rocky overlook used by the Continental Army as its second line of defense after West Point during the Revolutionary War." (De Vito 2004) On the point, called Blue Point today and originally called Jeffrow’s/Jeffroe’s/Jeffroo’s Hook back in the 1700s, (which can be seen in the black square) you can see up and down the Hudson river on a clear day. This makes it the perfect place to put your artillery. According to historical maps from O.J. Tillson in 1854 and J.H. French in 1858, only a few people lived in the area. A Mr. H. Perkins was the only occupant from Tillson’s 1854 map. In French’s 1858 map, Mr. Perkins becomes Mr J.H. Perkins, possibly his son, and a Mr. Bernard becomes another occupant. 2 other houses are built and appear on French’s 1858 map, but no names are attached to the properties.
French, J.H. 1824-1888
Alphonso Bolognesi, an investment banker from the city, purchased 325 acres of land along the Hudson River in Highland in 1904. He had originally planned on using this land as a vacation retreat from the busy city life. There are conflicting reports of when the land became an actual winery. Some state that it was started when he purchased the property, others when the stock market crashed in 1929. Many of the buildings have dates inscribed on the lintels. These dates range from In Croswell Bowen’s letters to Carl Cramer in 1938, it is reported that the winery has been active for years. Bowen describes the winery as it’s own little untouched world. Many residents spoke primarily Italian, with little to no English and tenants lived more like feudal vassals, helping in the vineyard for a small plot of land to farm and call their own. (Bowen 1938) Bolognesi was proud of his wines and champagnes, but found it hard to sell in America. The family must have done rather well though, as it stayed in production for the next 31 years.
Also, in case you were wondering, they were able to get around Prohibition rather simply. They made Sacramental wine for churches, which was not regulated by The 18th amendment thanks to the Volstead Act. This act was passed to give the federal government the ability to enforce the 18th amendment.
"Sec. 3. No person shall on or after the date when the eighteenth amendment to the Constitution of the United States goes into effect, manufacture, sell, barter, transport, import, export, deliver, furnish or possess any intoxicating liquor except as authorized in this Act, and all the provisions of this Act shall be liberally construed to the end that the use of intoxicating liquor as a beverage may be prevented.
Liquor for nonbeverage purposes and wine for sacramental purposes may be manufactured, purchased, sold, bartered, transported, imported, exported, delivered, furnished and possessed, but only as herein provided, and the commissioner may, upon application, issue permits therefor: Provided , That nothing in this Act shall prohibit the purchase and sale of warehouse receipts covering distilled spirits on deposit in Government bonded warehouses, and no special tax liability shall attach to the business of purchasing and selling such warehouse receipts." (Henry Johnson Associates)
In 1969, the winery was sold to and made public by Herbert Feinberg. Not much is known about this period unfortunately. Concerts were held outside the main house and people were encouraged to come grape stomping. In 1987, the Winery was renamed the Regent Champagne Cellars. They made a variety of different champagnes including a peach and a raspberry. Regent also tried it’s hand at a non alcoholic wine cooler. The name of said drink was Hiney. No, I’m not joking. Yes, that is its actual name. To say the drink didn’t go over well is a vast understatement. It could be from a variety of different factors including the change in times, bad marketing (The cartoon spokespeople for Hiney were named Anita and Seymour Hiney. Please stop laughing, I’m being serious. Dammit, get off the floor and act your age! I’m not paying for that chair you just broke.), what people wanted out of a drink, etc. Or it could be because Hiney was said to taste very much like its namesake. Much like how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop, the world may never know. Thousands of bottles litter the property. Both for champagne and Hiney and hundreds of boxes with Hiney 4-pack cases could be found in surrounding barns. It’s unknown when exactly it happened, but shortly after the renaming of the winery, Regent closed its doors for good.
Bottles from the Winery and Regent.
These doors have remained closed, but there is an attempt to revive the Winery. Not as a place to grow, manufacture and sell wine, but as a residential complex, utilizing the winery’s old buildings, which were built in a Romanesque style.
As a side note, I would suggest not attempting to visit the winery. It has 1 access road in and out, and is patrolled regularly by police, who are alerted by residents and the land superintendent whenever a vehicle or unknown people pass by. It is not unheard of for local K9 units to be called out to track looters.
1938 Correspondence with Carl Cramer, May 20, 1938.
2012 Aerial View of Hudson Valley Wine Village postcard. http://www.cardcow.com/342829/aerial-view-hudson-valley-wine-village-highland-new-york/
De Vito, Carlo
2004 East Coast Wineries: A Complete Guide from Maine to Virginia
1824-1888 Map of Ulster Co., New York : from actual surveys / under the direction of J.H. French ; L.G. Dawson, assistant.
Henry Johnson Associates
N.d. The Volstead Act (1920). Officially titled the National Prohibition Act. http://www.johnsonsdepot.com/chicago/volstead.pdf