Spotlight on Christopher Jacobs Winery at Pennings Vineyard

Christopher Jacobs Winery at Pennings Vineyard
320 Crawford St.
Pine Bush, NY

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The first grape vines Christopher and Monica Pennings planted were eaten to the ground by cows on the family farm, who broke down their fence to get to the new vegetation. The Pennings took this with a sense of humor. When they opened Christopher Jacobs Winery at Pennings Vineyard in 2016, they named their first white wine Holy Cow.

The Pine Bush winery has grown since its 2016 opening, but it is still small, which is just the way the loyal regulars like it. The Pennings serve six wines – five whites and one red. They produce about 1,000 gallons of wine for the six months that they are open.

“We try to make a wine for every person, from traditional dry, oaked wine to your fruity sweet,” Monica Pennings said.

One variety is an apple wine, Appaloosa, made with fruit the Pennings grow. It won “Best Fruit Wine” in the 2021 Hudson Valley Wine and Spirits Competition.

Christopher Jacobs is a small-scale winery with a “backyard barbecue feel,” Monica Pennings said. It’s a friendly place where the smiles and the laughs are as light and easygoing as the highly drinkable wines. (Try the thrice-award-winning Bella, infused with a hint of honey from oak barrels.)

The Pennings craft their wines exclusively from grapes grown in the Hudson Valley – mostly Cayuga White and Seyval Blanc from their own vineyard – where the cooler climate is better for white wine grapes.

Their red is off-dry and light-bodied. It is named Deep Roots in honor of the larger Pennings family, whose history for generations has twined with that of Orange County and the region. The winery is the latest enterprise to grow out of the well-established family, whose members also own Pennings Orchard, Farm Market and Cidery.

The couple named their winery after their grown sons, Christopher and Jacob, who help at the winery, becoming the fourth generation of Pennings to work the land.

Monica and Christopher hold events, including Friday Night Sunsets on 12 summer weekends, when they stay open late to watch the sun sink behind the distant Shawangunk Ridge. They have hosted weddings, and hope they can do so more often.

“There’s something so pretty about the formality of a wedding in the natural setting,” Monica Pennings said.

In late August and early September, they set aside a couple of rows of vines for table grapes that visitors can pick themselves. The season wraps up with a Halloween party, where coming in costume gets you a free glass of wine and a fire in the firepit helps beat back the autumn chill. They expect to add more events in the future.

“Of course,” Monica Pennings said, “the best part is creating new wines, too.”

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