Tastemaker: Nathan Kendall, N. Kendall Wines (New York)

I first heard the name Nathan Kendall when he was working at Ravines Wine Cellars several years ago. I don’t remember who it was, but someone sent me an email lauding a wine Nate had made himself and telling me that he was someone to watch in the region.

Fast forward a few years ahead and Nate has launched his eponymous label N. Kendall Wines, which has focused on riesling and pinot noir to date. The wines are good. In some cases very very good. There is an authenticity to them. A purity and intricacy. And they are delicious.

As good as his wines have been, I think he’s someone to know more because of some of projects he has underway. He’s in the process of converting some of the vineyards he sources fruit from to organic viticulture and there are strong rumors about a Catawba project as well. It’s not often that I get excited about anything Catawba, but I love the idea of what he might do with the native grape.

His wines can be tough to find “in the wild” but they are work seeking out. In the meantime, get to know Nathan Kendall, a true tastemaker.


Location: Dundee, New York

Current Job: Owner & Winemaker, N. Kendall Wines

Wine/cider/beer of the moment: 2014 Bellwether Pinot Noir, 2013 Wild Brute Chardonnay, 2015 Barry Family Cellars Pet Gnat, 2003 Shaw Chardonnay…

My winemaking style in 1-5 words: Minimal-intervention, terroir-driven, focused

First bottle of wine I remember drinking: My mother worked at Hermann J. Wiemer throughout my childhood, so we have a solid supply of old wine. When I was old enough, I had the opportunity to sample a Late Harvest Riesling from the 80s. The sheer beauty of that wine haunts me to this day.

How I got here: I was born and raised here. After moving back to the Finger Lakes from working internationally for some time, my then-employer (Morten Hallgren of Ravines Wine Cellars) let me make a couple of barrels of wine in the corner (to satisfy my need to create). It’s grown so much that’s it’s now my sole focus.

My winemaking style — in more words: To celebrate the diversity of soil we have in the region, I try my best to not do anything. Spontaneous fermentations without temperature control and with no additions (yeast, sugar, acid, nutrient, fining agents, and no filtration when possible). I prefer to let the vineyard/farming practices/vintage, speak for themselves.

Mentors: Mmy mother and father. Within the industry: Morten Hallgren for pushing me to start this. Steve Shaw for helping me sustain. Stan Witkowksi for being by my side since day one.

Music playing in the cellar right now: Sheesh, that’s tough. Traditional bluegrass through hip hop, with everything in between.

Favorite thing about the local wine industry: It’s a small, tight-knit community.

Least favorite thing about the local wine industry: It’s a small, tight-knit community.

One surprising thing that I’m really good at:  I have a ridiculously good memory. I don’t forget numbers, or any wines I’ve ever tasted.

What I drink: More coffee than I’d like to admit to: Mosel Riesling, Loire Chenin and Cab Franc, Jura Chard, Champers, Waipara Riesling and Pinot noir, and Genny Red Eye and Cream Ale.

My “Desert Island Meal” — wine/cider/beer included: I’m currently obsessed with Christopher Bates’ poutine at the FLX Wienery, and Rune Hilt’s curry duck wings at the Red Dove Tavern. I’ll drink whatever they recommend with it!

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