Hudson Valley, NY (October 2012) – The spirits are gathering in the Hudson Valley and not just for Halloween. The abundant apple crop grown here every fall has local wineries and distilleries producing liquid gold to grace the most sophisticated cocktails. Apple Jack, apple brandy, wine, and hard apple cider are just some of the newer libations distilled in the area, and visitors can both see how they’re made and sample them in tasting rooms throughout the region.

Apple lovers are in luck this year as the region kicks off the first Hudson Valley Cider Week, October 16th through the 23rd. Part of a plan to preserve apple orchards in the valley, the celebration promotes the production of hard cider and apple spirits, but bring the family since regular cider is available in quantity. Restaurants are part of Cider Week, too. Hil’s Café & Market in Cold Spring is offering three varieties of “adult cider,” pairing them with a savory fall dinner menu.

At Brookview Station Winery in Castleton, Whistle Stop White has stopped traffic with its semi-dry tang made from the farm’s apples. An award-winning favorite, fans from all over make the trip to pick apples at Brookview’s Goold Orchards and sample the wines. Just off the press (!), the master cider maker has come up with a great new product: Joe Daddy’s Hard Cider. Not to be outdone, Captain Lawrence Brewing Company feels that there is nothing quite like Mom’s apple pie, but their Golden Delicious Beer is pretty close. Aged in apple brandy barrels, the tropical aroma of the hops and the delicate apple aroma from the barrels are a perfect match. Stop by for a taste after a tour of the brewery.

Apples come in many varieties, as do the elixirs made from their juices. Harvest Spirits in Valatie is the home of Core Vodka, a popular adult beverage made from 100% Hudson Valley apples. Their Peach Applejack is not to be missed. The mellow sweetness comes from double-barrel aging and the fresh picked peaches soaked in Harvest Spirit’s Applejack. Something a little different! Also different is the variety of Doc’s Draft Hard Ciders found at Warwick Valley Winery and Distillery. Raspberry, cassis, pear, and pumpkin infuse four different versions. For an extra kick, try their Apple Brandy in the bucolic atmosphere of this winery that looks like a bit of Tuscany. More apples to sip can be found in the whisky barrel-lined tastjng room of Tuthilltown Spirits in Gardiner. Sample Spirit of the Hudson Vodka, their super-premium handmade vodka produced from local apples. This fine spirit is distilled 3 times to ensure really smooth vodka. Bottled at 80 proof, it gives an apple martini a light, fresh taste.

Not all apples are pressed into spirits. Farms throughout the Hudson Valley blend some of the best fresh cider around. Boehm Farms in the little town of Climax offers sweet cider along with their cider donuts. Pick your own Macintosh and Cortland apples, too, for a fun family day in the orchard. Just north in Altamont, Indian Ladder Farms has apple drinks, cider and treats. Stay to pick a basket of apples and enjoy the farm market filled with all sorts of good things from the fall harvest. The apple orchard at Fishkill Farms in Hopewell Junction produces sweet, fresh pressed cider and homemade donuts straight from the farm kitchen. There are acres of apples to pick, hayrides, and activities for the kids at this farm that has been in the same family since 1914. Historic farms are not unusual in the Hudson Valley. The Orchards of Conklin have been farmed by the same family since 1712. Their apple cider is a tasty accompaniment to the apple pies from their bakery.

The Hudson Valley is the “apple belt” of New York State, the second largest producer of apples in the nation. Fine cider has been available here for over 200 years and mills, breweries, and distilleries are increasingly crafting apple beverages. Take the Hudson Valley Cider Trail, an excellent way to see the glorious autumn leaves while tasting one of fall’s most popular temptations.

Hudson Valley Tourism, Inc. is the 10-county region designated by I LOVE NEW YORK to promote tourism for the area. Counties include Albany, Columbia, Dutchess, Greene, Orange, Putnam, Rensselaer, Rockland, Ulster and Westchester. Regional information can be obtained from the county tourism offices, the regional website, www.followthehudsonriver.com; or by calling 845-615-3860.