Thursday, March 16, 2006

Finger Lakes Winemaker Q&A

This Q&A is with Peter Bell, winemaker at Fox Run Vineyards. Before coming to Fox Run, Bell crafted wine for wineries in Australia and New Zealand and then went on to Dr. Franks Wine Cellars in 1990. He was hired at Fox Run in 1995 and has helped Fox Run to become one of the premier wineries in the Finger Lakes, producing world class wines with a "Minimal Intervention" approach. Peter is a tireless promoter of Finger Lakes wine and he has earned the respect as one of the finest winemakers in the region.

WW: Briefly describe Your Philosophy of Winemaking.
PB: To gently guide grapes from the vine into the bottle.

WW: What is your favorite thing about making wine?
PB: Being able to show up at work and do what I love ­ and be paid for it.
Is this a dream?

WW: If you were dropped on an island and could have any 3
wines, what would they be?
PB: 1. Any Finger Lakes Dry Riesling ­ the ultimate refresher.
2. Fox Run Tawny Port, because a tiny thimbleful would go such a long
3. A bottle of Champagne, to open when the ship came to rescue me --
and I wouldn't need a corkscrew!

WW: Do you prefer real cork, synthetic cork, or screw cap and why?
PB: We use all three. Corks are great in most cases, but screw caps are the

WW: What advice would you give to anyone wanting to become a winemaker:
PB: Become an organ donor. The world needs more Hammonds and Wurlitzers.
Then we'll talk.

WW: What wine tasting advice would you give to someone visiting the Finger
Lakes for the first time?
PB: Spit, don't swallow. It's going to be a big day.

WW: What makes the Finger Lakes area special to you?
PB: Those long, finger-shaped bodies of water.

WW: What is the wine you are most proud of making and why?
PB: My Ports .­ I have about 20 barrels of Port and they are all different.

WW: What new wines are in the works for your winery?
PB: Our next bottling of Fox Run Tawny Port, late this summer.

WW: Who are your 3 favorite Finger Lakes winemakers?
PB: This would be like choosing my favorite child. I have immense respect
for everybody here.

WW: What are your 3 favorite Non-Finger Lakes wines?
PB: Pol Roger Champagne, Tio Pepe Sherry, Hardy's McLaren Vale Grenache.
My address for deliveries is...

WW: If you had to be something else besides a winemaker,
what would it be?
PB: A university lecturer (in wine science, of course).

WW: Who has been the most important person to you in your
development as a winemaker and why?
PB: Thomas Henick-Kling, Professor of Enology at Cornell University, and
Scott Osborn, President of Fox Run: Both heroes of mine.

WW: Who is your favorite musical artist or band?
PB: How about my favorite 50 musical artists...

My thanks to Peter Bell for answering my questions. If you are visiting the Finger Lakes, be sure to visit Fox Run Vineyards, located on the west side of Seneca Lake.

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