It is not every day that a farm in the area comes up for sale, but after nearly 40 years Doug and MaryEllen Glorie have decided to pass the torch to a new generation, who hopefully are interested in carrying on what they started.
Doug bought the 52 acre farm in 1979 from the Quimby family and slowly began transforming what then was an open pasture into a prosperous orchard and vineyard. He now grows 13 varieties of grapes, 10 varieties of apples and a “host” of other fruits. Doug also built a 3 bedroom 2 bath home on the property, which has been fully updated, along with maintaining the barns, grounds and equipment. The property’s ‘piece de resistance’ is the incredible view looking eastward as far as the Taconic Range that eventually runs up into New England.
At the time he purchased the farm Glorie was working as a mechanical engineer for IBM, “but I always had a yearning to own a farm.” He started off raising cattle, pigs, chickens and rabbits. He said farming is in his blood, with two uncles who were dairy farmers and his father, who came from Holland in 1923, also became involved in agriculture.
Glorie began working on a potato farm in Montgomery after school when he was just 12 years old.
“I liked that because I got the chance to drive these big tractors and trucks and I felt important,” he smiled.
By 1983 Glorie decided that his farm was better suited to growing fruit, such as grapes, apples, peaches, pears and nectarines, rather than keeping livestock on the land. He said the farm’s orientation of south and east, along with good drainage and its proximity to the Hudson River, “which tempers the climate by probably 10 degrees versus across the mountain into Clintondale on the coldest day,” all factored into his decision.
“The cold air falls off the hill and you have some natural protection,” he said. “The cold air doesn’t stay here so your buds wouldn’t freeze. It’s a natural frost protection area.”
Glorie recalled experiencing hale storms in the early 1990s that destroyed his crops, “in a matter of ten minutes, going from a full crop to no crop, a good income to no income.”
MaryEllen said in 1992 she married Doug and not only did they struggle with the weather, but five months later Doug was laid of from IBM.
“He wanted to leave but he didn’t quite have the nerve to do it on his own, so IBM helped him. He didn’t want to look for another engineering job, he wanted to farm full time, so that’s what we started doing,” she said.
For the first 20 years on the farm MaryEllen was a teacher of the deaf, starting in Maryland but upon moving to the Hudson Valley began doing technical interpreting for the deaf at IBM. Her income helped temper some of the losses in the early years.
One year they had too many grapes and took them to a local wine maker to make wine.
“I said to MaryEllen that people would buy this so she said we should have a winery,” he said.
They received their license in 2004 and today produce 21 types of wine. The couple built a wine tasting room and Glorie Farm is now a destination on the local wine trail.
The couple reached the decision to sell the entire farm last month. Doug said it was MaryEllen who suggested the idea, which would allow them to “slow down, I’m 71 now, and let’s have some more time together. Farming is fairly time consuming.”
MaryEllen said about a decade ago she pushed for developing a plan for the future.
“You can either work forever or you can make a plan to downsize or slow down,” she said, recalling, “In the early years it was hard work all the time. I’d interpret all day and come home and help him pack fruit. We talked this winter and decided it’s time to sell.”
Doug said he has been responsible since he was quite young.
“I’ve been very responsible to business for all these years and I’m simply tired of being responsible; I want to be irresponsible, I want more control of my life,” he said. “We decided the best option for ourselves was to sell.”
Doug said his two children do not have the desire to take over and run the farm so selling was the only option.
The couple said they will probably not move away even though the taxes are high.
“We’re both Hudson Valley born and raised and this is a special area. So I doubt it,” MaryEllen said.
“We have the ability to pay the taxes but we don’t like it, but the Hudson Valley is a beautiful place to live,” Doug said.
The couple are hoping to sell their farm to someone who likes this type of lifestyle.
“You’ve got to enjoy being outside and be affiliated with farming and growing grapes and selling wine,” Doug said. “They could step in, give us a check and the next day start making money...It’s a profitable business, you could start a new career and away you go.”
Doug had to figure out a sale price of $1,950,000, which was difficult because there are no comparable sales of something quite like their property. He has 8 acres planted in grapes and 10 ares in other fruit. He started by compiling a component sheet that highlighted their acreage, with its deer fencing, a 2,500 sq/ft house (with newly renovated kitchen), a solar system, a barn with a tasting room and an irrigation system. He said anyone starting a vineyard from scratch would find the cost running at about $23,000 per acre.
Doug said it was easy to say what the farm has meant to him.
“I simply like to watch the progress of things grow,” he said. “Day to day, week to week, it’s always changing and the promise that’s in those trees is enormous. Right now it’s nothing, it’s a bud, then its a flower, then a small fruit , then a cluster and the color comes on. It’s so invigorating, it’s so stimulating and the process goes on and we go through a beautiful cycle every year.”
MaryEllen said it will be a bittersweet to leave the property.
“We’ve written our story here. Doug’s been here for almost 40 years, and I’ve been here for 27. We’ll miss this place, we don’t want to leave here but we can’t keep doing this forever...It’s just time.”