Celebrating the Hudson Valley Wine & Food Fest 2023 participating wineries
Steve Conaway is originally from Pennsylvania and his wife, Erika, is from Washington. Steve and Erika were married in 1990. The Conaways have four children.
In 2003, Steve retired from the United States Army as a Major after serving more than twenty-two years. During that time, he completed tours in Germany, Greece, Uzbekistan, and Afghanistan.
While spending five years stationed in Germany along the Rhine and Mosel Rivers, Steve became passionate about Riesling. After the family moved to the beautiful Thousand Islands region of New York, Steve became inspired by the mighty Saint Lawrence River and the grand castles that are located on the islands. He noticed many similarities between the the Rhine region and his new home. Both areas feature scenic beauty, gorgeous stone castles, large tour boats, and many visiting international tourists. However, the St. Lawrence River lacked the vineyards and wineries that were prevalent in Europe. Seeing this as a tremendous opportunity, the Conaways set out to establish a new grape-growing region in New York State and purchased a farm in December 2002.
Thousand Islands Winery officially opened to the public in 2003 with a starting inventory of 1,100 gallons of wine. The region was new to vineyards and wine production. Many thought that the Conaways were foolish and would soon go bankrupt. However, the exact opposite was true. Not only did Thousand Islands Winery survive, it experienced rapid growth and purchased an additional thirty-acre farm on Wellesley Island in 2013 and now produces over fifty thousand gallons of wine annually.
When Steve first began his winery operation, he found that the general population of Northern New York preferred beer and hard spirits. Steve had to educate his customers and specially tailor his wines to fit their taste, not his own. He started with five wines and quickly found that his customers favored sweeter style wines. After several years, the area’s taste began to evolve towards drier wines like Marquette.
Today, Thousand Islands Winery produces 23 different varieties of wine in five categories. The categories include Dry, Semi-Dry, Semi-Sweet, Sweet, and Fruit & Dessert Wines. The winery also produces a fortified, port-style wine and honey mead. Thousands Islands Winery has over 19 acres of wine grapes planted on the farm. The grapes consist primarily of Frontenac, Marquette, La Crescent, and Riesling.
Presented by WineRacks.com, The Hudson Valley Wine & Food Festival will take place on September 9th and September 10th at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds in Rhinebeck, N.Y., which will be transformed into a foodie paradise featuring some of the best wines and culinary treats that the Hudson Valley and beyond have to offer.