Cutchogue currently is the center of the North Fork's increasingly renowned wine industry. Prior to the 1970's the North Fork mainly produced potatoes, cauliflower and fruit. Now, almost 2000 acres are planted in wine grapes, with more acreage being planted daily. Vineyards help keep our fork the uniquely scenic, serene, rural, agricultural maritime area it is.
The vineyard and winery were established in 1980 by Kip and Susan Bedell with the planting of seven acres. The vineyard has since expanded to thirty-two acres planted with the following varieties: Merlot, Chardonnay, Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Viognier and Petite Verdot.
On August 10, 2000 Michael Lynne became the new owner of Bedell Cellars. Mr. Lynne and Kip Bedell, who remains the winemaker, will continue to work closely together focusing entirely on quality. Mr. Lynne is an avid wine enthusiast and president of New Line Cinema.
Increasingly garnering widespread and well-deserved attention, New York ranks third in wine production in the United States (after California and Washington). Divided into six AVAs—the Finger Lakes, Lake Erie, Hudson River, Long Island, Champlain Valley of New York and the Niagara Escarpment, which crosses over into Michigan as well as Ontario, Canada—the state experiences varied climates, but in general summers are warm and humid while winters are very cold and can carry the risk of frost well into the growing season.
The Finger Lakes region has long been responsible for some of the country’s finest Riesling, and is gaining traction with elegant, light-bodied Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc. Experimentation with cold-hardy European varieties is common, and recent years have seen the successful planting of grapes like Grüner Veltliner and Saperavi (from the Eastern European country of Georgia). Long Island, on the other hand, has a more maritime climate influenced by the Atlantic Ocean, and shares some viticultural characteristics with Bordeaux. Accordingly, the best wines here are made from Merlot and Cabernet Franc. The Niagara Escarpment is responsible for excellent ice wines, usually made from the hybrid variety, Vidal.
With hundreds of white grape varieties to choose from, winemakers have the freedom to create a virtually endless assortment of blended white wines. In many European regions, strict laws are in place determining the set of varieties that may be used in white wine blends, but in the New World, experimentation is permitted and encouraged. Blending can be utilized to enhance balance or create complexity, lending different layers of flavors and aromas. For example, a variety that creates a soft and full-bodied white wine blend, like Chardonnay, would do well combined with one that is more fragrant and naturally high in acidity. Sometimes small amounts of a particular variety are added to boost color or aromatics. Blending can take place before or after fermentation, with the latter, more popular option giving more control to the winemaker over the final qualities of the wine.