HILLBURN, N.Y. -- Since Torne Valley Vineyard in Hillburn opened its wine tasting room for samples and light food pairings, a steady stream of locals and tourists have made their way to the working winery.
It is nestled in the historic Hudson Valley region just an hour's drive from New York City.
Torne Valley opens to visitors on weekends to explore and taste wine. Small plate fare would include cheese boards, paninis, salads and more.
Founded in 2009, it was the first working winery in Rockland County, owner Jonathan France said in an interview.
It is situated on an historic 19th century country estate. There is a Victorian mansion on the property that has been extensively restored to preserve its architecture, said France.
The property is slated for more renovations to add a 14-room inn.
When first purchased, the owners invested $2 million into restoring the Gothic-style chateau, said France.
The landscaped grounds have view of the Ramapo River, and there are outside and inside seating areas.
The vineyard offers event planning and catering on any scale and the mansion, though built in the 1800s, has all the modern conveniences.
"People wanted more that first year when we opened our tasting room so we started doing the food. We have outdoor seating for 150 to 200 with live music every Saturday and Sunday in summer, plus special events and jazz concerts on Thursdays and Fridays. We are open year-round and see a great North Bergen (County) and Rockland crowd," said France. Other owners include his wife, Debbie, and brother Stephen France, and his wife, Kim.
Eight wines are currently being produced there, said France, who took over the role of head wine maker two years ago.
Though his background is in construction he studied wine making. "I learned hands-on from other wine makers, and now with the help of a consultant in the Hudson Valley and Finger Lakes regions," he said.
Trips to Napa Valley and interest in food and wine drew he and his family "closer to the lifestyle," said France who lives in the area.
Inspiration also came from his wife's cousin who owned a chateau and vineyard in France, then sold it, and bought another vineyard.
"We bought the property as an investment and got started in 2010. By the time planning and zoning (approval) happened and got our first plant in the ground."
The vineyard is at 1 Torne Valley Road, Hillburn.
For information and hours, call (845) 712-5505 or click here.
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