Welcome autumn!!

My girlfriends and I kicked off the advent of autumn with our first fall Metro North One-Day-Get-A-Way or ODGAW as we call it, with The Farm Fresh Organic Food, Prohibition Moonshine, & Fine Tea tour. The six of us met at Grand Central Station, purchased our breakfast goodies and boarded the train for a two hour trek up to Dutchess County. Upon arrival at the Wassaic station we were picked up by a tour bus that would take us to each of our three destinations.

Our first stop was in the Village of Millerton, where we stretched our legs while sauntering through a local green market with each vendor’s table spilling over with organically grown vegetables and flowers, bars of fragrant homemade soaps and my pick of the lot; sweet delicious maple syrup, a dollop of which I add to my morning coffee. As my friends were browsing the shops and talking to the locals, I wandered into a big red house known as the Florist Shop filled ceiling to cellar with twiggy baskets, dried and fresh flowers, potted plants, wreaths, knick-knacks & gim-crackery of every description. I was in a photographic wonderland and the proprietors were gracious enough to allow me to walk around and take my fill of photos.

Around 1:00pm we met at Harney & Sons, Fine Teas and settled down to a lovely lunch of tea and sandwiches. After a short while I left my friends to finish their meal so I could prowl the little shop, camera in hand. I spent a few minutes talking with the proprietor Brigitte Harney and with her permission took photos of the many delicate tea cups, saucers and pots decorating the room as well as the array of teas, sweet syrups, cookies and coasters on display and all available for purchase. With full bellies and a slight reluctance we left this place of cozy gentility and boarded the bus for our next adventure.

Our second port of call was the most intriguing of the three stops and located on a farm in Pine Plains: Dutch’s Spirits Moonshine distillery. When we arrived we were met by Lydia Higginson, the Deputy Director of Dutchess County Tourism and Ariel Schlein, president of the distillery. Ariel guided us on an incredible journey back in time via a maze of tunnels that had been dug out under the direction of the infamous 1930’s gangster, Dutch Shultz. Dutch created an underground bunker to hide his illegal but very profitable bootlegging business. This bunker has recently been designated a national historic place by the NYS Historic Preservations Office  and Ariel is in the process of building a museum dedicated to the bootleg error of this part of the country. The farm acted as a natural facade to this whole booze making enterprise. The raw product was created in stills in an old cow barn and then the distilling, bottling, and distribution operations were done down in the bunker. The barn and a few dilapidated chicken coops are still standing and were all a part of the pretense of a functioning rural farm.

After the tour we were invited to a tasting of alcoholic beverages produced by Ariel’s company, Dutch’s Spirits and as we boarded our bus for the third and final leg of our trip, found ourselves in a very jovial frame of mind.

Last stop: the McEnroe Organic farms and as the name implies this farm produces organically grown produce and meats and are the makers of premium compost and soils. We were given a tour of the composting facilities and the green houses and nurseries, which were quite impressive and grew some of the biggest tomatoes I’ve ever seen. After the tour we had an hour to run around the farm and or shop in the McEnroe Market, but of course I chose to stay outside and photograph this peaceful farm-scape with acres of wide open fields and a sky filled with gray, white and purple clouds. A few minutes into my walk I found a few farm animals. A variable gaggle of gobbling white turkeys greeted me being very excited to meet someone from the city (and a vegetarian too!) and have their pictures taken. Right next to them on the other side of the fence was a whole pile o’ pigs, grunting and snuffling and eating a late day snack of over ripe mushy tomatoes tossed on the ground.  Some of the pigs were shy and others pushed their muddy snouts up to the fence to investigate the camera. There were some sheep and they decided to keep their distance but I managed to get a nice picturesque shot of two of them in the foreground and actually looking toward me. The rest of the group just kept their faces buried in the grass. I took the hint and made my way back to my friends who were boarding the bus and we bid farewell to Dutchess County until our next ODGAW in October.

Enjoy the trip.

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One thought on “Bootleg Booze and A Cuppa Tea

  1. Cate said it all, captured it all and presented it better than any catalog or travel brochure possibly could. She portrayed the essence of a charming village, an organic farm and a bootleg era bunker architectural complex in a picturesque collective! These images offer an authentic and tranquil view of a lovely area of Dutchess County, and if given the opportunity, everyone should visit after reading and viewing Bootleg Booze and a Cuppa Tea, it’s a trip worth taking.


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