Boston-based Drumlin Field Ventures to open brandy distillery in Claverack; promises 25 new local jobs

(June 18, 2018)  A Boston-based company plans to open a farm and brandy distillery in the coming years that will create two dozen new jobs.

Empire State Development, the state’s economic development initiative, announced June 1 that Drumlin Field Ventures will establish a field-to-glass brandy distillery and tasting room on 182 acres of farm property off the intersection of state Route 23 and county Route 27. The company plans to produce apple and grape brandies using fruit from trees and vines planted on the grounds. The project is expected to create 25 to 30 new jobs.

“We chose a site that falls within an agricultural district and qualifies as a start-up farm, and we were happy to find so much support for agribusiness and craft spirits production in New York state,” said Drumlin Field President John Frishkopf. “The local climate and conditions are ideal for growing fruit for brandy production, and the Claverack property provides a stunning location for the tasting room. We thank the team at Empire State Development for their assistance, and we are excited to bring new jobs to the region.”

The company committed an investment of more than $6.3 million in property, construction, equipment and design costs.

Empire State Development has agreed to provide up to $400,000 in performance-based tax credits for the creation of 25 jobs.

“Almost all of the hiring will be local,” said Drumlin Field Ventures Senior Advisor Jay Glynn. “Some technical jobs, which require experience operating a distillery, may be filled from outside the area. However, on-the-job training will supplement a prospective employee’s existing skill set.”

The company, which was established in 2017 to invest in the farm distillery and other agribusiness ventures, bought the property early this year. The previous owner planned to turn the traditionally agricultural property into a residential property, Glynn said.

“The property used to be a farm — an apple orchard — which I think most recently was called Crowning Meadow,” Glynn said. “The orchard was abandoned approximately 30 years ago. We thought it would make more sense to make the property an orchard again. So, we are going to replant it.”

The company plans to produce 10,000 cases of brandy a year: 5,000 cases of grape brandy; 4,000 cases of apple brandy; and 1,000 cases of fruit eau de vie and other spirits, according to the presentation the company made to the town planning board March 5. The town held a public hearing on the project in April and the planning board approved the project May 7.

“This is a great project for our area, furthering the growing craft-beverage industry,” said Claverack Town Supervisor Clifford “Kippy” Weigelt. “We are happy to provide support for any businesses establishing, growing and expanding in Claverack, and we look forward to the world-class products from Drumlin Field.”

The company plans to grow 45 acres of vines and 20 acres of apple trees to meet its goal, according to the presentation. The company plans to begin preparing the land and planting this summer and to start operations, with the help of Master Distiller Daniel Farber, founder, owner, and master distiller for Osocalis Distillery, next year.

The company will contract with local and regional growers to provide the fruit for the initial distilling operations while the company’s orchards and vineyards mature.

“Drumlin Field’s decision to establish their distillery in Columbia County is great news for our residents,” Columbia County Board of Supervisors Chairman Matt Murell said. “This project will create jobs while supporting our local farmers and fruit producers. Our thanks to ESD for helping to bring this project to our community.”

The Columbia Economic Development Corporation helped Drumlin Field Ventures throughout the process to get its foot on the land in Columbia County and pointed the company in the right direction, Glynn said.

“The brandy distillery and tasting room being constructed by Drumlin Field Ventures will be a valuable addition to Columbia County’s already strong agribusiness, craft-beverage and tourism industries,” said CEDC President and CEO F. Michael Tucker. “CEDC is thrilled to see yet another project coming online that adds to Columbia County’s story as an attractive location to live and do business, which will drive future investment in our community.”