-- By virtue of a wine-grape-growing tradition dating to the 1670s, the Hudson Valley bills itself as America's oldest wine-producing area. Though overshadowed in the state by the Finger Lakes and Long Island regions, the Hudson Valley AVA (American Viticultural Area), 90 miles north of New York, is home to the country's oldest commercial winery (Brotherhood, which opened in 1839 as Blooming Grove) and the oldest continuously farmed vineyard, dating to 1772, at Benmarl Winery in Marlboro. This stretch of the Hudson River, flanked by dramatic bluffs, splits the grape-growing area in two: The Shawangunk Wine Trail on the west side embraces 10 wineries, while the Dutchess Wine Trail to the east features three wineries. Chardonnay, Riesling, Seyval Blanc and Pinot Noir are key grapes here.
Be sure to stop at:Brotherhood Winery in Washingtonville (brotherhoodwinery.net), a pioneer in winery tourism, offers tours of its underground caves. Stoutridge Vineyard in Marlboro (stoutridge.com) has a state-of-the-art, eco-friendly winery and is about to open a micro-distillery. Both Clinton Vineyards in Clinton Corners (clintonvineyards.com) and nearby Millbrook Vineyards & Winery in Millbrook (millbrookwine.com) are set amid acres of beautiful farmland and orchards.
Restaurant featuring area wines:Terrapin Restaurant in Rhinebeck, (845-876-3330; terrapinrestaurant.com) offers small plates in its bistro and upscale New American fare in the fine-dining room.
Suggested lodging: B&Bs, motels, country inns and lodges are plentiful throughout the valley. Upscale, old-world ambience abounds at Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz (845-255-1000; mohonk.com), a resort set on a mountain lake.
Nearby attractions: Foodies will want to make a pilgrimage to the campus and restaurants of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park; art buffs can visit the homes of Hudson Valley School founders Frederic Church, Thomas Coles and Russel Wright; history buffs can trek to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, the Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site in Hyde Park, and dozens of Revolutionary War-era shrines.