A couple of weeks ago I had the privilege of running my first corporate tour for a friend and her colleagues. They build software for the healthcare industry and their office is located at 721 Broadway, the same office that Citizen Action NY and my local radical marching band, Tin Horn Uprising, go to every Friday to protest Congressman Faso and his various shortcomings as an elected official. We're a bit rag-tag and play songs like "Bella Ciao" and "Down By the Riverside" to uplift the local activists and to offer chant support on the issues we feel strongly about. But I digress.
The tour started out near my friend's home in Woodstock, and I picked all six of my passengers up in the Municipal parking lot. Woodstock is a little bit of a trek to the tasting destinations in the region, whether you're headed to the more popular Shawangunk Mountain region, or up to Columbia County, where we were headed, but it was a beautiful 45 minute drive featuring stunning views of the Catskill Mountains along the way. We arrived at Olde York Farm in Claverack in the early afternoon, where we tasted 12 or so different spirits ranging from my personal favorite, the Smoked Maple Bourbon, to the Cacao Maple Vodka (which has a lovely yummy chocolatey finish), the Thai Basil Liqueur, the Buddha's Hand Citron Vodka (have you ever seen a Buddha's hand? I hadn't. Google search an image) and more. The group was taken on a tour of the cooperage and distillery by the British barrel-maker himself, who referenced a time when the pieces of wood were so stubborn they flung across the room, out of his control.
After Olde York it was a 15 minute drive down to Tousey Winery in Clermont, where I had reserved the private room. In the winery parking lot we passed an older gentleman on a bicycle, in the cold, eager to show us his box of beeswax candles. We learned upon entering that he was Ray Tousey, the namesake and founder of the winery and also esteemed beekeeper and honey maker. We enjoyed a tasting of five wines: the Queen of Clermont, Reisling, Red Riot, Cabernet Franc and the Pinot Noir. To cap off the tasting we were offered a choice between the Creme de Cassis (akin to a red port, but made with local honey) and the Bloomé white port. We learned that Ray's honey was in several of the wines we enjoyed, specifically the ports, and I later learned that the Cassis was the first wine the winery produced, and the impetus for the now bustling family winery business that is Tousey Winery.
Last but not least, it was time to venture onwards to Sloop Brewing Co. for a beer tasting. My client/friend had mentioned her love of sour beer, and I knew Sloop was the best place for that. Sloop has such an amiable atmosphere too, playing fun music and filled with warm lighting, games and fun things to look at, so even though one of my six passengers didn't drink beer, she enjoyed hanging out and chatting with the beer-maker as well. The tasting was of three beers in addition to the sour: a stout, the infamous Juice Bomb IPA, and one other IPA. All I can say is that they were a hit. Sloop also has an in-house market that sells sausages, local honey and chips and other tasty jams and sauces that make good gifts. In the summer there's an orchard outside, and sunflowers depending on the time of year. It's a great stop that everyone always enjoys, beer-drinker or not. (They have a tasty cider for us gluten-free folk as well.)
All in all, it was a great tour! We all learned a lot about how things were made and tried things we hadn't tasted ever before. As we headed back to Woodstock it began to flurry and the gang headed out to Cucina for a celebratory holiday dinner.