Altamont Vineyard & Winery

altamont vineyard composite

By Casey Normile

The leaves have turned, the sun's setting earlier, and the air grows colder. It's wine season, folks. Time to hide from the cold by crowding into a cozy winery and warming yourself with sips of Riesling.

And, as it happens, a winery might be closer than you think. The Altamont Vineyard & Winery -- llocated along the Albany/Schenectady county line -- is a small venue that's been in operation since 2006.

But its grapes were established long before that.

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The Altamont property was first spotted by Louis DiCrescenzo while on a trip to Albany to visit the DMV. He decided to take the long way back to his home in Saranac Lake and drove by the Grossi family's vineyard. The family had taken a step back from tending the land and Louis offered to buy it almost immediately. In 2006, the DiCrescenzos took over the just-under 13 acres vineyard and made it Altamont Vineyard and Winery.

So why a vineyard in Altamont? Well, as it turns out, the geography is right for grapes. The hills have southern exposure and an elevation change of about 750 feet. This allows the cool air to sink into the valley below and the warmer air to stay in the hills. The view doesn't hurt, either.

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"I think people like [our vineyard] because they can come, do a wine tasting, go home, eat dinner, and go to bed," explains Michael DiCrescenzo, Louis' son and fellow vintner.

Prior to the owning the vineyard, the family had some experience making their own wine -- Louis had always grown his own fruit trees and used his own grapes to make small batches for the family. And his son Michael became his official tester.

"My dad would make it and I would test it for him... I think it was because I'm picky," said Michael. "But I was always interested in wine, even when I was little. I would go down to the basement to play around with it, mix wines together - and usually end up spilling it everywhere and having to clean it up."

They knew the process, they just needed to get a feel for what they had on the vine.

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"That first year was spent getting to know the grapes. I would put two grapes together because they looked similar and research them later only to find out they're related," said Michael. "Now we're learning how to use them the right way."

The vineyard is home to over 25 varieties of grapes. The vines were a labor of love by the original landowner, Larry Grossi -- though he passed away before he could harvest them and sample the wine. So one of the first batches made by the DiCrescenzos was "Redemption Red." In it they used the St. Croix grapes that Grossi cultivated in 1995 to honor his work.

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And now, it's harvest season again. Most of the grapes have already been pruned and fermentation has started. They currently have about 7,000 gallon in tanks right now. The next focus: late-season grapes and ice wines.

This time of year -- the harvest and the start of the wine-making process -- is when the DiCrescenzos and employees are busiest and the work is hardest. It's also when the vineyard gets the most visitors, group tours, events, and meetings.

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"It's funny that this is when we're busiest actually making the wine, but it's also when people want to see you the most," said Michael, "But it's worth it -- 40 percent of our sales come from September to October."

The Altamont Vineyard & Winery is open on the weekends from 12-5 pm for tours and tastings.

Find It

Altamont Vineyard and Winery
3001 Furbeck Rd
Altamont, NY 12009

Comments

No offense, but you guys take kinda crappy pictures. Back up so we can see the place!

How can you complain about the pictures when there is an awesome one with an optical illusion of a one legged girl?!?

"It's funny that this is when we're busiest actually making the wine, but it's also when people want to see you the most," said Michael, "But it's worth it -- 40 percent of our sales come from September to October."

People are in the mode: "Gotta do something...anything... before hunkering down for winter".
You guys at AOA do a fine job of giving us getaway ideas, thank you!

I live not far from this joint and drive by all the time... yet I've never stopped. I should do that sometime soon. (Put it on the list.)

We've been going here since Larry Grossi owned it. It's a treasure! Now, it's even better, and it's a visit we always enjoy. Go! It's worth the trip from anywhere.

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