Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor | Richard A. Ball, Commissioner
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May 03, 2016

Agriculture Commissioner Congratulates Hudson Valley Distillers on National Award

Columbia County Distiller Wins Best of Class Vodka in Oldest and Largest Competition of Craft Spirits

New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball today congratulated the Hudson Valley Distillers on winning the Best of Class Vodka award at the American Distilling Institute’s (ADI) 2016 Spirits Conference and Vendor Expo held April 4 to 7 in San Diego, California. The Clermont, New York- based farm distillery was honored for their Spirit Grove Vodka.  Commissioner Ball joined representatives from the Hudson Valley Agri-business Development Corporation in visiting Hudson Valley Distillers today to congratulate the owners and tour the facility.

Commissioner Ball said, “It’s exciting to see the growth of the craft beverage industry in New York.  Agri-businesses like Hudson Valley Distillers are using New York State ingredients to manufacture unique and diverse beverages and are proving that there’s no limit to our producers’ potential.  We congratulate Hudson Valley Distillers on earning top prize at the ADI 2016 Spirits Conference and showcasing the very best of New York to the world.” 

The ADI’s Annual Judging of Craft Spirits is the oldest and largest judging devoted to artisan spirits. Over 600 craft spirits were submitted to ADI for judging this year from craft distilleries in the U.S., Canada and Europe, including more than 110 vodkas. Hudson Valley Distillers Spirits Grove Vodka garnered multiple awards this year: Best of Class, Vodka, Certified Craft Distilled Spirit; Best of Category, Grain-to-Glass Apple Vodka, Certified Craft Distilled Spirit; and Gold, Grain-to-Glass Apple Vodka, Certified Craft Distilled Spirit.  The distillery uses a vast majority of local agricultural products, including apples from Migliorelli Farm and barley and other grains from Hudson Valley Malt.

“We're pleased to host the Department of Agriculture and Markets, Hudson Valley Agribusiness Development Corporation, Northern Dutchess Alliance and Dutchess County Tourism and provide a tour of our family run facility that we are so proud of," said Tom Yozzo, Co-Founder and Head Distiller, Hudson Valley Distillers. "Both our state and local partners were helpful in growing our business. When we first attended the ADI conference, we had little more than a business plan. HVADC initially helped us to refine it, which was very helpful and went a long way in better presenting ourselves to lending companies and our investors. HVADC also served as our principle connection with Cornell through its Incubator without Walls program, and facilitated our participation in distiller business classes there. The state's Craft New York Act ensured we could expand our business by opening the Spirits Grove, and serve and sell the products we make on site."

Hudson Valley Distillers, owned by Tom Yozzo and Chris Moyer, opened its doors in 2013 and joins the growing number of craft beverage producers who are thriving as a result of Governor Cuomo’s commitment to assist and promote craft manufacturing in New York State.  In November 2014, the Governor signed the Craft New York Act, allowing producers the opportunity to conduct tastings and serve “by the bottle” and “by the glass,” among other reforms. This spurred Yozzo and Moyer to renovate an existing building on their property and open the Cocktail Grove to provide tastings and sell their product. Since 2011, the distillery industry in New York State has grown exponentially, from 10 in 2011 to 84 today.

Hudson Valley Distillers has also received business mentoring from Hudson Valley AgriBusiness Development Corporation (HVADC) since prior to its inception. HVADC helped connect Hudson Valley Distillers with Cornell University through its Incubator Without Walls program.

Most recently, HVADC has helped Hudson Valley Distillers connect to a larger regional constituency of consumers by forging relationships for it with the Northern Dutchess Alliance (NDA) and Dutchess County Tourism. Due to the connections made, Hudson Valley Distillers is now being included in an updated Dutchess Tourism Farm Fresh promoted tour and a soon to be released update of northern Dutchess historic driving tours. Farm Fresh tours are promoted through Metro-North and Amtrak.

Todd Erling, Executive Director, HVADC, said, “Hudson Valley Distillers co-founders Tom Yozzo and Chris Moyer are examples of our region’s many entrepreneurs leading the way in positioning the Hudson Valley to be nationally recognized in the craft beverage and the local food movements.  We are pleased to provide assistance through our programs, which are designed to foster business development to the agricultural industry.”

Mary Kay Vrba, President and CEO, Dutchess Tourism Inc., said, “We are very happy to expand our Farm Fresh tour through the partnerships we have developed with NDA and Columbia Country Tourism, which now enables us to offer visitors additional sites and let them know about the quality of products being produced here in the Hudson Valley.”

Melodye Moore, Vice President of NDA, is pleased that efforts are being made across county lines within the Valley, as well as gaining notice nationally, and said, “I want to congratulate Hudson Valley Distillers on their award and thank HVADC for being a unique regional resource on all matters related to agriculture and the local food movement. At the NDA, we have focused our attention on agriculture as an economic driver in our region and this award validates our beliefs and work towards strengthening our rural assets.”

About Hudson Valley AgriBusiness Development Corporation (HVADC)

The HVADC is the region’s sole economic development agency with a specific focus on the viability of the agricultural economy in the Hudson Valley. It assists both new and existing agri-businesses such as farms, food businesses and food distributors, by providing technical and business consultation and resources. The non-profit promotes balanced, market-based solutions that lead to enhanced agricultural entrepreneurship, rural economic growth and community enhancement.  For more information, please visit:

About Hudson Valley Distillers

Hudson Valley Distillers is a destination distillery offering tours, tastings and cocktails Friday through Sunday at their 12 acre farm in Clermont, NY, and available in local liquor stores and restaurants. They produce high quality spirits from thoughtfully selected Hudson Valley ingredients: vodka from apples, gin from grapes, Applejack and whisky. For more information;

2016 Press Releases