Author Speaks on Newburgh’s Role in Grapes of the Hudson Valley

NEWBURGH, NY – During the early years of the nineteenth century, the Hudson Valley was the “breadbasket of the United States,” which was one historian’s way of describing the rise of commercial agriculture. A high demand for American foodstuffs by Europe led thousands of farmers to migrate to New York, taking advantage of the fertile land west of the Hudson River and a close proximity to the markets of New York City.

A typical scene in the Highlands when sheep pastured on many farms.

A typical scene in the Highlands when sheep pastured on many farms.

On October 11th, the public is invited to join the Newburgh Historical Society as they explore Newburgh’s mercantile history, participating in the Mid-Hudson Historic Destinations’ “Taste of History” this Columbus Day Weekend.

Between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m., the public is welcome to tour through the historic 1830 Captain David Crawford House, once home to a successful freight forwarder. Crawford played a key role in the transition of Newburgh from a small riverside community to a thriving shipping port.

At 2 p.m., author J. Stephen Casscles will deliver a talk about his book, “Grapes of the Hudson Valley and Other Cool Climate Regions of the United States and Canada.” Described as a field reference guide that explores 175 varieties of grapes, it also explores a history that includes growers, grape growing and wine making in the Hudson Valley.

J. Stephen Casscles is a long time grower and winemaker in Orange and Sullivan Counties. He comes from a long line of Mid-Hudson Valley fruit growers since the 1870s. He has operated his own vineyard in Middle Hope since 1976 and in Athens since 1989. There he grows over 30 different varieties of French-American hybrids and is now concentrating on growing and examining grape varieties developed from the 1840s to 1890s by Newburgh based hybridizers.

Following the talk will be a book signing and wine tasting made from locally developed heirloom grapes.

The Captain David Crawford House is located on 189 Montgomery Street in Newburgh. Admission is $5 per person and free to members of the Society. For more information please call (845) 561-2585 or visit their website,

The Historical Society of Newburgh Bay and the Highlands was launched unofficially when the Hasbrouck House (Washington’s Headquarters Newburgh) was in danger of demolition after the Revolutionary War. The current Society, incorporated in 1884, has always been an advocate for Newburgh’s history. The Society’s headquarters, 1830 Captain David Crawford House, was purchased in 1954 to save it from demolition and symbolizes their dedication to preserving and protecting Newburgh’s assets.

The Crawford House, a historic house museum and Society’s headquarters, located at 189 Montgomery Street within the City of Newburgh’s Historic District is open for tours on Sundays between 1:00 P.M. and 4:00 P.M. or by appointment. View the “Growing Up In Newburgh” exhibit, a community exhibit featuring the photographs and memories of Newburgh from the 19th century through the 20th century. For more information about admission, tours, or programming please call (845) 561-2585.


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