Rich is a native Long Islander. It’s in his blood. Winemaking embodies everything he is passionate about – the juxtaposition between creativity, science and history, all entwined by the beauty and complexity of nature. Rich believes wine is one of the most beautiful creations that we can coax from the natural world. He’s driven by the belief that wine brings joy to people’s lives.
Rich worked his first local vintage in 1981. He was the Winemaker and Vineyard Manager at the Bridgehampton Winery, Winemaker at Hargrave Vineyards, Raphael and at Bedell Cellars since 2010. He is a Graduate of Cornell University with a B.S. in Plant Science in 1983 and a Master’s Degree in Education from Stony Brook University in 1991. Rich is the Author of The North Fork of Long Island (1986), The Hampton’s Long Island (1985) and Long Island (2000) AVAs. Rich developed the first Bordeaux/Long Island consultation partnership with M. Paul Pontallier of Chateau Margaux and also helped found the Long Island Merlot Alliance, the Long Island Latino Vintners Association and Long Island Sustainable Winegrowing, the first third party sustainable certification program on the East Coast.
What are the unique characteristics of your winemaking style?
My style is completely local – low alcohol with natural acidity and saline minerality. All the wines I produce are fermented with the indigenous yeast found on the North Fork which makes my wines sincere expressions of our district. I want my wines to highlight fresh fruit and be crispy, juicy and balanced with little to no oak. To me, Long Island style is all about an edgy balance between fruit and finesse.
Describe the relationship between the Long Island wine community and the agriculture, aquaculture and overall East End culinary culture.
Farming and fishing have coexisted on the East End since the mid-17th century and have always been the main economic drivers of the region. There are very few places in the U.S. where farming meets the sea like it does on the North Fork. The East End is one of first areas in the country to develop its own locavore culture beginning in the mid 70’s alongside the development of the first commercial vineyards. Today our culinary culture has created a unique symmetry and a holistic approach combining the best that the East End has to offer – local wines, produce and shellfish
In your opinion, which foods are paired best with the wines of Long Island?
Long Island wines are born to be enjoyed with food – so literally all food pairs well with our wines. It’s what they are made for. But if I had to narrow it down:
Local Lobster or Peconic Bay Scallops, Oysters, Fluke, Striped Bass, LI Duck, Locally raised Chicken or Lamb and Vegetarian Cuisine
What Long Island wine would you recommend to someone just discovering the region ?
2014 Bedell Taste White or 2013 Bedell Cabernet Franc.
What are your passions outside of wine?
Family and friends, Music, Writing, Drawing, Painting, History, Travel, Gardening, Cooking, enjoying the outdoors.
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