Developer to Winemaker By Mike Colpitts
Marlboro, New York — As an independent thinker and winemaker Stephen Osborne isn’t the type one would expect to end up in the rural out-back of Upstate New York. But it’s his type of fierce independence that brought him to become a revolutionary developer turned businessman in the comforts of the picturesque Hudson Valley.
Osborne and his wife bought their 35-acre Stoutridge vineyard out from under a land developer seven years ago, who wanted the property to turn it into a residential development of 12 homes. He negotiated a deal with the former owner to develop the land into the vineyard it once was and took the rugged journey from a once flourishing California winemaker to a master of wine making in the heart of New York’s wine country.
“We bought it (the land) out from under the developer,” said Osborne. “And we even paid less than the developer had offered. It’s so important to keep land to serve what it has.” The Hudson Valley is one of the country’s finest scenic wonderlands with a dozen vineyards covering its rolling mountain side bluffs.
Osborne’s journey isn’t typical of those in the wine making business, but his journey to preserve land that had been used as a vineyard for generations and then returned to other farm land symbolizes the battle many independent business people have taken as entrepreneurs.
Today Stoutridge is a premium boutique winery in Marlboro, 70 miles north of the hustle and bustle of Manhattan, distinguishing itself from other wineries with a long running natural wine making process that doesn’t use any preservatives or sulfites in its wine making process. The facility was one of the first true green developments in the country. A series of solar panels captures enough sunshine during the year to produce more than enough energy to support all of the electricity needed to run the business and his family home year round.
The winery produces just 4,000 cases of wine annually and all of Osborne’s wine is sold only through the tasting room on site.
The vineyards are a mere half mile from the Hudson River, which eventually winds’ through New York City. Marlboro has a long history of fruit and wine production dating back to the 1600s. Stoutridge was constructed on the foundation of a winery that was established in 1902 and closed during prohibition with a bootleg distillery that operated through the 1950s.
As a graduate of UC Davis highly regarded wine making program, Osborne doesn’t hold any illusions about his life’s journey. They began re-planting the winery’s vineyards in 2001 and didn’t open the winery until five years later. Next year his wife is taking time off from work to prepare to open the Stoutridge Distillery. “I’ve been making wine for 29 years,” said e. “Now I want to be a little old whiskey maker.”