CASSCLES MIDDLEHOPE - Hudson-Chatham Winery


Two-and-a-Half Acres. Casscles Marlboro is owned by Steve Casscles, and is a small vineyard in Middle Hope, NY, not far from Marlboro.

This vineyard has a long and interesting history. It was first planted by the noted fruit grower Nathaniel Barnes (1782- 1879), probably around 1850 to 1860 and his sons Nathaniel Barns (sometimes spelt Barnes) and Daniel and William Barnes (1828 – 1904). The driving force of the second generation of Barnes was Daniel. Upon their father’s death in 1879, the Barnes family had approx. 300 acres of grapes in Middle Hope, NY. The father and then son (Daniel) was president of the Newburgh Bay Horticultural Society and help to merge it to become the Orange County Horticultural Society. They also attended meetings of the New York Horticultural Society and Massachusetts Horticultural Society.

While the Barnes were mostly grape and fruit growers, they worked extensively with Andrew Jackson Downing and his brother Charles Downing in testing new grape varieties that the Downings had identified or were sent to them from other parts of the United States and used and sold in their nursery business. He helped Charles Downing in writing the second edition of “The Fruits and Fruit Trees of America” (1862 circa, and later editions). One of the first books in America that categorized and listed grape and other fruit varieties. It was not uncommon then that they were propagated from a neighbor’s farm. This helped Charles Downing’s nursery business in nearby Balmville, NY. The Barnes family had an extensive relationship with the grape hybridizers James H. Ricketts of the city of Newburgh, A.J. Caywood of first, Modena, then Poughkeepsie and then Marlboro, where Caywood had a nursery business. The Barnes worked with A.J. Caywood, when they had their nursery business in Marlboro, NY near Cedar Cliff, NY on Old Post Road.

The Casscles Middle Hope vineyard was probably planted in grapes and other fruits such as peaches between 1850 and 1860. Casscles Middle Hope may have been cultivated longer ago than the Caywood, Marlboro property that Mark Miller “claimed” to be the longest continually farmed vineyard in the country. The Barnes family kept the property probably until the 1900s when it was sold to the Williams family and then to the Sharp family. With the economic downturn in the Hudson Valley fruit farming economy after 1905 – to 1920, the farm declined. It was purchased by Steve Casscles great-grandparents, John and Mary Sabo in 1928 at which time, they along with, Joseph L. Casscles, who was then courting the Sabo’s daughter, set out the farm once again, with grapes, peaches, some cherries and strawberries. Steve’s great grandparents and great uncle kept the farm going until around 1957, by which time only a few rows of grapes were kept.

Steve began replanting the place in 1976. I resurrected some old Concords that had been set out by my grandfather and great uncle, Johnny Sabo in 1928. Those grapes still produce to this day. Steve also started planting mostly Baco Noir, but also Marechal Foch and Seyval Blanc at the site. The cuttings of Baco Noir came from the Benmarl vineyards. Benmarl’s cuttings or plants were purchased through Philip Wagner of Boordy Vineyards (in Baltimore, MD) who had them smuggled in from France to Canada and then to the United States around 1944 to 1945 , near the conclusion of WW2. Steve also planted Delaware plants or what might be Delaware hybrids grapes from Benmarl, that came from the Caywood farm that was farmed by his grandson William Wardell. Hence these Delawares are the Caywood Delawares that he used to do his hybridization work to develop grapes such as Dutchess. Many of these vines were eventually moved to Casslces Family Vineyards in Athens, N.Y. The vineyard today produces mostly Baco Noir, with some Chelois also included.

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