A Chat with Bedell Cellars Winemaker Richard Olsen-Harbich

Richard Olsen-Harbich, winemaker at Bedell Cellars
Richard Olsen-Harbich, winemaker at Bedell Cellars

I see the region expanding while becoming more involved in sustainable production techniques,” says Richard Olsen-Harbich, the winemaker at Bedell Cellars, of where he sees East End wine in five years. The growing industry is something to be celebrated, and Olsen-Harbich will be on hand to offer revelers a pour at Dan’s Harvest East End on August 22.

What are some wine-tasting tips you can offer?
I think the most important part of tasting is to remember it’s a great way to find out what you enjoy. Learn the four basics of wine tasting—See, Swirl, Sip and Spit…Once you find out what you like, the enjoyment comes easy! Also don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions of our tasting room staff.

What are you most looking forward to about participating in Harvest East End?
It’s great to see the local wineries all in one place, pouring their wines and celebrating what we do.

What is the best pairing of food and East End wine?
Any of our crisp aromatic whites go perfectly with local shellfish. I also love Long Island duck with our savory versions of merlot and cabernet franc.

One East End Wine everyone should try:
Cabernet franc from any one of our producers. It’s something a lot people have yet to try but is so quintessentially Long Island in that it’s savory yet juicy, soft and elegant.

What drew you to work in East End wine?
I’m a native Long Islander. This is my terroir and it’s from this place that I want to create.

What is the best thing you’ve ever heard anyone say about your wines?
When people tell me they’ve celebrated a special family event with one of my wines and everyone loved it, it makes me very happy.

What is the funniest way you’ve heard somebody describe a wine?
“Ooh, this is a baby-makin’ wine.”

Where do you see East End wines in five years?
I see the region expanding while becoming more involved in sustainable production. The quality of our wines will continue to increase and our style of wine will resonate further with consumers outside the New York metro area.

What key factors are helping East End wines increase in quality and reputation?
We have a strong research component, in association with Cornell University, that is locally based and focused, which will continue to help us make better wines in the future. The style of our wines—naturally balanced, moderate alcohol and crisp acidity, is a style that is also growing in popularity and will continue to find interest in the national marketplace. No other area in the U.S. can make naturally balanced wines like we do.

What are some of the biggest challenges facing the East End wine industry?
I think one challenge is that the scale of our production is limited, which at times inhibits our ability to reach further afield in the marketplace.

Dan’s Taste of Summer kicks off with Dan’s GrillHampton on Friday, July 17, and continues on Saturday, July 18, with Dan’s Taste of Two Forks, both at Sayre Park, 156 Snake Hollow Road, Bridgehampton. Dan’s Harvest East End, the can’t-miss food and wine classic, rounds out the trio of events on August 22 in Cutchogue. For info on all three events, including tickets and VIP packages, DansTasteofSummer.com.

Bedell Cellars is located at 36225 Route 25 in Cutchogue. Call 631-734-7537 or visit bedellcellars.com.

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