There actually is a significant difference between a winery and a vineyard. A vineyard is where grapes are grown and a winery is where wine is produced.
Nestled in the lush green hills of Marlboro, New York you will find first vineyard in America. Benmarl Winery overlooks the historic Hudson River Valley and is described as the oldest vineyard in America by Hudson Valley Cabernet Franc Coalition. Cornell University also notes Benmarl Winery as America's oldest vineyard.
The vineyard's 37 acre estate lays claim to the oldest vineyard in America. The winery also holds New York State Farm Winery license no.1. As described on the Benmarl website "Here at Benmarl we are committed to producing small batch wines that capture the unique character of each vineyard from which they are sourced. Our estate production had almost tripled in the past six years showing our faith in the wines that the Hudson River Region can produce. We invite you to visit our 37 acre estate overlooking the historic Hudson River Valley where you can taste our award winning wines, tour our cellars, and walk through the Oldest Vineyard America.”
The original piece of land at Benmarl Winery was purchased and cultivated by Andrew Jackson Caywood in the early 1800s who became the leading authority on winemaking and viticulture in the Hudson Valley region, including the town of Marlboro. In 1877 or 1878, the Caywoods purchased from Jesse Lyons an old 84-acre fruit farm on Old Post Road, just south of the hamlet of Marlborough.
The purchase price was $7,000 to be paid for and financed primarily by a balloon payment payable to Lyons in 1884. In addition, the Caywoods promised to set out 500 peach trees and one acre each of red currants, strawberries, and grapes in 1879, and an additional three acres of grapes and 500 peach trees in 1880. Caywood did satisfy the conditions of the agreement by 1884, and ultimately obtained title to the land outright by 1885. He relocated to Marlborough to start his own nursery, first under the name Ferries & Caywood, and later under the name Caywood & Son, when his son Walter joined the business.
The nursery was known as Riverview Nursery.6 Then William L. Wardell (1887-1970), farmed the property until it was sold to Mark and Dene Miller in 1957, who along with their sons Eric and Kim Miller established Benmarl Vineyards. Mark Miller, an Illustrator and wine lover bought the old vineyard in Marlboro. He named it Benmarl- ben is Gaelic for hills and marl describes its mixture of soils.
When the Miller family bought the Caywood property in 1957 and renamed it Benmarl, it had outlived all of its early contemporaries to become America’s oldest professional vineyard. Miller and his family rebuilt the vineyard’s steep terraces, replanting them with European wine grapes, hybrid and vinifera. Before he died last year at the age of 89, Miller sold his vineyard to Victor Spaccarelli, Jr.
Since 2006 the Spaccarelli Family has maintained the high standards set by Miller. The wine produced by Benmarl’s current winemaker Kristop Brown, who apprenticed under Miller’s son Matt, continues to impress critics. New York Times Wine Columnist, Frank Prial described Benmarl’s wines as “remarkable examples of what dedication can produce.”
Today this oldest vineyard in the US produce over 20 varietals – everything from the classic Riesling and Pinot Noir to their own signature Benmarl blends. Today this oldest vineyard in the US offers brick over pizza on weekends with their wine tasting events.