Rich Olsen-Harbich, winemaker at Bedell Cellars, first made Long Island apple wine back in the 1980s at the long-defunct Bridgehampton Winery. Then, for many years, he didn’t — but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t thinking about it as the cider industry exploded in recent years.
“I’ve been inspired by lots of other cider makers over the years,” he told me in an email. “Autumn at Eve’s Cidery does a fantastic job.” But the man responsible for defining and writing Long Island’s three American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) has found further inspiration a bit further afield — the Pacific Northwest, where his daughter lives.
“There’s a huge cider scene out there as well and I get a chance to taste a lot of cider out there when we visit her.”
Bedell has a small orchard of 25 apple trees — mostly Macintosh — so with those earlier experiences working with apples and interest in cider, it was only a matter of time before Olsen-Harbich started a cider program at the winery. That first batch — made last spring — was a trial run that was only available by the glass at the winery’s Tap Room at Corey Creek tasting room. This fall, Olsen-Harbich bottled and labeled his Bedell cider for the first time.
“I wanted to put my own spin on the process — approach it from the perspective of a winemaker if you will — and do it with the Petillant Naturel approach,” he said, adding “My goal for cider is the same as I approach aromatic white wines — make something crisp and try and preserve as much fruit in the bottle as possible.”
Producer: Bedell Cellars
Apples: Macintosh, Gala, Empire and Idared
Price: $18 (750ml)