When it comes to wine country travel, we always really seem to hit the jackpot. We have visited so many incredible wineries, tasted great wines, done wine and food pairings, and enjoyed beautiful scenery. What has always made our wine country trips special, whether in Italy, or California, or even wine tasting in Massachusetts, the people we meet and end up staying in touch with are the real reason wine countries around the world draw us in.
Our visit to Bedell Cellars on the North Fork of Long Island was no different. Our guide and friend for the afternoon, Zack, was awesome from start until finish. In fact, we loved the experience so much that we ended up making our ferry reservation two hours later so we didn’t have to rush from the tasting room.
We arrived at Bedell Cellars on a most gorgeous late April afternoon. It definitely got me thinking about living on the North Fork. Skies and endless vineyards and blue seas. . . heaven. Once inside the tasting room, we were whisked up into the loft to a private seating area and started off with glasses of Blanc de Blancs sparkling wine and this view while we learned about the origins of the winery. Currently owned by Michael Lynne (executive producer of Lord of the Rings, in addition to many others), the winery has been in existence for 30 years and is one of the premier winemaking facilities on Long Island. It wasn’t always that way. Making wine was a hobby for Kip Bedell, the founding winemaker and namesake. He started out as a basement winemaker, and his talent and word about his wines quickly grew. For the full story on Kip Bedell, Michael Lynne, and the rest of the team, please visit the Bedell website.
Once we learned a bit of history on Bedell, including the fact that, like many of the vineyards on the North Fork,Bedell was at one point a potato farm, we headed out into the bright sunshine to walk the land ourselves, stopping first to take a peek into the barrel room. There is no greater smell than a winery barrel room, if you ask me!
On our walk outside, we were right in the trail of a bride and groom and Bedell’s event planner, going over the site for their wedding ceremony on property. I want to get married again so I can have a North Fork wedding!
The property is truly beautiful, and despite being conveniently on a main road, it feels completely country. We stood in a plot of Albariño and Chardonnay grapes and talked about the wine growing process and the unique terroir of the North Fork.
The vines weren’t quite at bud break yet, but they were close. Wine growing in the North Fork is affected by many factors, and while there is a North Fork style and characteristics, things like soil can vary from vineyard to vineyard. Many of Bedell’s vines are nearing 30 years old, being part of the original winemaking, and their fruit is, as a result, more concentrated and full of flavor.
After wandering the vineyard, we went back inside to see where the wine is made, bottled, and stored. We also got a little more in-dept information on the soil of the Bedell vineyards. As you can see below, the roots of the vines stretch through many layers. Stones and sand make for excellent drainage, helping vines to avoid rotting roots from too much water.
Once we were walked through the winemaking process, right up to labeling and boxing, we returned to our seats for wine and cheese. The team at Bedell took such great care of us, and they wowed us with each pour of wine.
As always there were some standouts. On the white wine side, I loved the 2012 Gallery, an estate blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Viognier. This wine was super fun and fragrant, full of texture due to the Viognier, and making our mouths happy with notes of pineapple, minerals, and lemon. In addition to wine, Bedell exhibits a love for art, hence the wine names and original pieces all over the tasting room. I have already blogged about the Bedell Viognier in my Wine of the Week post last week, and I also really loved the Bedell Taste Rosé, which wasn’t originally part of the tasting we were doing. Of course I asked for it. I loved the label of this wine, which isn’t a photo of Marilyn Monroe, but rather a bunch of photos blended together. This Rosé, a blend of Merlot (the North Fork’s signature grape), Cab Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah, is crisp and summery, given a little bit of spice from that Cab Franc and lots of berry notes from the Merlot. This wine would be incredible with barbecued anything, fruit salads, green salads, and seafood.
I really loved the North Fork reds we tried, especially the Cabernet Francs, which I might say is my favorite red grape. Merlot once again shows all of its good characteristics, and the Bedell 2012 Merlot is fruity and floral at the same time, with some herbal notes mixed in for good measure. I promise you, even if you don’t think you like Merlot, you will like the Merlot grown on the North Fork. The 2012 Black Label Cab Franc was one of my favorite wines of the whole trip, with its spice and velvety fruit. There’s a bottle in our wine fridge just waiting for a chilly patio night.
Our time at Bedell Cellars was simply perfection, the wines, the scenery, the cheese pairing, and the people. Bedell has some great seating areas, including one by a fireplace, and I would imagine it would be the perfect place for wine tasting year-round. Many thanks to Bedell for hosting us for our wine tour and tasting.