For 25 years “on the rocks” meant climbing the ‘Gunks in New York’s Hudson Valley and managing rock climbing gyms in New York City for native New Yorker Ralph Erenzo. These days it has a new meaning for him as Co-Founder of Tuthilltown Distillery, located on a former gristmill in the verdant Gardiner countryside just a short drive from where we live. Ralph and business partner, Brian Lee,established the distillery in 2003 and two years later produced their first small batches of vodka. We remember our first visit to the small distillery; today the compound has grown to several buildings and Tuthilltown Restaurant.
Tuthilltown’s a game changer in the Hudson Valley, credited with helping to bring back small batch production to the region. Last weekend we attended the Straight Up New York Crafts Spirits Festival at Black Dirt Distillery in Orange County. Many of the newer distillers we met at Straight Up New York credit Ralph for their move into the business. His work at the State level resulted in the passage of the Farm Distillery Act which permits New York farms to establish distilleries on site and sell their agricultural spirits at the farm.