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2023 Awards of Distinction Finalist Spotlight: Collaboration

Date Published: September 26, 2023

Congratulations to Denning's Point DistilleryKing's Court Brewing Company and ​​​​Innisfree Garden!

 Awards of Distinction Finalist Spotlight Newcomer Category

Nominees for the Collaboration Award of Distinction are businesses in Dutchess County that have worked together with other local businesses and/or community partners to significantly drive tourism to the area and strengthen their businesses. Join Dutchess Tourism in celebrating all the honorees at the 10th annual Dutchess Tourism Awards of Distinction on Wednesday, November 1, 2023, at The Henry A. Wallace Center at the FDR Presidential Library and Home in Hyde Park. Read more about the event and purchase tickets here.


Read on to learn more about each Collaboration Award of Distinction finalist.

Tell us about your business/organization and what makes it unique.

Susan Johnson, Denning's Point Distillery: Denning's Point Distillery creates spirits that are a modern interpretation of the classics. We focus on market-driven flavor profiles and high quality, local ingredients. 

Caroline Bergelin, King's Court Brewing Company: We are a true craft brewery producing award-winning beer in our cozy taproom. Our sole focus is showcasing high quality beer that is true to style and creating a space that is welcoming for all. Since opening, we have won six medals (two of which are from the national Great American Beer Festival competition), which we are honored to have received. We are proud to offer the full spectrum of beers (lights, darks, IPAs, sours, etc.) year-round, which sets us apart and why others have said they enjoy visiting our brewery.

Kate Kerin, Innisfree Garden: A powerful work of art recognized as one of the great gardens of the world, Innisfree is a 185-acre public garden in Millbrook. Inviting exploration and even contemplation, this unique living landmark merges the essence of Modernist and Romantic ideas with traditional Chinese and Japanese garden design principles in a native glacial landscape. The result is a distinctly American stroll garden, a sublime sculptural composition achieved with remarkable economy and grace. Using innovative, nature-based and remarkably cost-effective maintenance practices since opening in 1960, Innisfree offers a time-tested model for other inviting, sustainable greenspaces, both public and private. Innisfree attracts about 25,000 visitors each year and was the subject of a full-page article in The New York Times this August.

Tell us about your recent collaboration(s). 

Susan Johnson, Denning's Point Distillery: We love to collaborate with other like-minded manufacturers to create unique spirits that exemplify the best of the Hudson Valley. Some examples are our Beacon Coffee Bourbon collaboration with Trax Coffee Roasters, our Beacon Earl Grey Vodka created with tea from Harney & Sons, and some amazing vegan donuts created by Peaceful Provisions using our spirits in their donut glazes. The orchard at Meadowbrook Farms in Wappingers Falls supplies us with the apples for our Beacon Apple Brandy.

Caroline Bergelin, King's Court Brewing Company: For the past two years, we have collaborated with the businesses on Cannon Street to hold our summertime block party series "Summer Sundays.” It's held on the second Sunday of the summer months, June through September. We focus specifically on inviting and showcasing Poughkeepsie vendors as a way to highlight and support the local community. We block off Cannon Street, have a live band, local food and craft vendors, open our doors and hold a party! The event is organized between King's Court Brewing Company, Revel 32°, Gallery 40, 1915 Wine Cellar, and the Mercat coffee shop. We are proud that we have revived Cannon Street, and this event supports our businesses and helps showcase what downtown Poughkeepsie has to offer. We have one more Summer Sundays event on Sept. 10, and we're looking forward to many more!

Kate Kerin, Innisfree Garden: Innisfree is a collaboration, an active partnership between people and nature drawing on global cultures and ideas, natural processes, and the distinctive local landscape, so collaboration is an ideal way to tell this story. We collaborate with regional experts and businesses on a pair of annual tastings to showcase specific cultural influences at Innisfree and special Hudson Valley resources, enabling guests to experience our public garden and locale in light-hearted yet informative new ways. In 2022, we hosted an English tea in the spring and a local cider tasting in the fall. For our “Tea in a Cup Garden,” we collaborated with Harney & Sons (Millerton) for the tea itself, BritBreads (Red Hook) for foods traditionally served as part of an afternoon tea, and S.J. Shrubsole (New York City) for a display of 18th and 19th century silver tea wares. While about 100 guests savored the fare, the expert owners of each company regaled them with stories, creating a rich cultural context for the experience. For the fall tasting, “American Cider at Innisfree,” about 140 guests enjoyed Hudson Valley ciders from Golden Russet Cafe (Rhinebeck), heirloom cider apples, and carefully paired local foods from Babette’s Kitchen (Millbrook), while nationally celebrated, Dutchess-based authors of “American Cider” (Ballentine Books, 2021), Dan Pucci and Craig Cavallo talked about the history and craft of this heritage beverage in our region. Like our 2021 tastings — a Japanese tea ceremony and a sake tasting — these were sold-out visitor favorites. Innisfree collaborates with fellow nonprofits on two annual programs that acknowledge and strengthen what unites people, in keeping with our diverse design influences, historically Quaker commitment to inclusion, and the designer/founder’s explicit belief in the healing power of landscapes. For the regional “Blessing Our Sacred Earth,” Innisfree collaborates with Grace Church (Millbrook) and the Dutchess Interfaith Council (Poughkeepsie), welcoming over 100 guests to our garden each year since 2016 for an interfaith celebration of spring. Guests from myriad backgrounds share the simple act of walking through the landscape together, pausing occasionally for spiritual and religious leaders — Baha’i, Bruderhof, Buddhist, Episcopal, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, and Schaghticoke First Nations — to give readings, share parables, or sing blessings, all focused on the wonders of nature and humanity’s fundamental connection to the Earth. For the “Gardens for Peace” program, we have collaborated since 2021 with the North American Japanese Garden Association and other Japanese-influenced public gardens around the country on wide-ranging programs bringing communities into restorative garden spaces to honor the United Nations International Day of Peace.


What have you learned from working with another business/partner/organization? 

Susan Johnson, Denning's Point Distillery: We are all stronger together and consumers love collaborative projects that highlight the best of two different companies. It's a win-win for everyone!

Caroline Bergelin, King's Court Brewing Company: It's been very positive! We all support each other, whether it is through marketing, driving traffic to each other's businesses, or giving each other creative business ideas, and more. The event really thrives since we each have very different businesses and clientele and have a variety of different experiences.

Kate Kerin, Innisfree Garden: Innisfree is part of a community and that is essential to our vision as a public garden. We are all in this together. If we showcase what makes our community special, it is a win. If we make all members of our community feel welcome in this 185-acre public resource, it is a win. If we bring people to our community from near and far, it is a win. Collaborations are how efforts to support and strengthen our community add up to much more than just the sum of their parts by building relationships, raising awareness, and maximizing positive impact.


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