When Rob Mitchell, vice president of craft, wine and spirits for Manhattan Beer Distributors, described where he lived in Orange County to people outside the region, he said he’d use Woodbury Common Premium Outlets and Orange County Choppers as a reference. Now he says his home region has name brand recognition of its own.
“Today, I just say I live in the Hudson Valley, which is similar I think to saying I live in Napa,” Mitchell said, alluding to California’s fertile wines-producing valley. “There’s a connotation of the Hudson Valley and all it offers as a breadbasket to New York City.”
Mitchell was one of four panelists at a recent roundtable discussion of the Hudson Valley’s craft beverage industry at the Culinary Institute of America’s Marriott Pavilion in Hyde Park. The panel was a kickoff event for Hudson Valley Restaurant Week, sponsored by The Valley Table, which starts the first week of November.
The panel featured Mitchell; Douglass Miller, a former CIA instructor and lecturer at the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell University; Gregory Best, a Poughkeepsie native and owner of the Ticonderoga Club in Atlanta, and Hutch Kugemen, head brewer at The Brewery at the Culinary Institute of America. Janet Crawshaw, publisher and founder of The Valley Table, moderated the discussion.
Miller said the climate for craft beverages — locally produced beer, wine and spirits — is as good as it has ever been.
“This is absolutely the best time ever for food and beverage, spirits, wine, that we’ve had in this country,” he said. “The collection that we have, the quality that we have, is second to none.”