Hudson Valley Wine Market
By Joe Ferarra
Thirteen years ago, a small wine and liquor shop opened at 119 Main Street in the Hamlet of Gardiner. Known by different names over the years, the new proprietor, Leonard Giannotti, who purchased the shop in 2016, decided to retain the most recent name—Hudson Valley Wine Market. There, he and the friendly, knowledgeable staff (Nick Lacovitti and Sue Bowers), provide a relaxed, welcoming experience.
“Our goal is to be a friendly shop that removes the elitism and anxiety from [buying] wine and spirits. We want to be a fun place to shop where you can experiment and learn about wines, and buy products at good prices that over perform,” Leonard said while we sampled a new Amaro, an Italian herbal liqueur.
Len has tastings every Friday from 4:00pm to 8:00pm, giving customers a chance to try some of his new selections. On my previous visit, I sampled an oat whiskey from Chicago’s Koval Distilleries. The tastings are casual and relaxed. They offer a broad selection of wines from around the world with an interesting selection of craft and local spirits as well as a selection of the popular brands.
Can’t find what you’re looking for? No problem, talk to Leonard, and he will try to order it. The staff knows many customers by name, and remembers their preferences in wines. Leonard knows my interest in bourbons and ryes and has, more than once, surprised me with some hard to find bottles, including a recent release of Kentucky Owl Rye—for less than I would have paid anywhere else, if I could find it—as well as a bottle of Wild Turkey Decades.
The prices are on a level with the big box stores, except you still get personalized service from people who know their products. That’s something that’s not always available in a larger scale store. In other shops I have overheard customers ask for a bottle of bourbon for a “big bourbon drinker” only to have the clerk recommend Jim Beam, or Jack Daniels, considered by most bourbon aficionados, to be bottom shelf liquor. The same experience happens with wine: Red meat goes with red wine, chicken and fish, white.
The staff at Hudson Valley Wine Market will ask more questions. Need a bottle of wine to go with a spicy, tomato based, chicken dish? Ask. They will give you a few bottles to choose from, as well recommend their choice. Want a bottle for a wine enthusiast that you want to impress? They will help you find the right choice without breaking your wallet. They will show you that you do not have to spend a small fortune to get a great bottle of wine that will impress everyone.
If you have never tried this store, assuming there was not enough of a selection or that they were overpriced, or if you tried it under previous owners, do yourself a favor and check it out now. You will be pleasantly surprised. Tell them Joe sent you.