Bellwether Wine Cellars
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Heritage Radio Network: Episode 148 Kris Matthewson From Bellwether Wine Cellars
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Bellwether Wine Cellars Facebook
In the spring of 2015, The New York Times quoted a certain rock star somm calling Kris Matthewson, the winemaker at Bellwether, a “rock star of the Finger Lakes.” In a relatively short amount of time, Kris has proven himself to be one of the Finger Lake’s most talented and thoughtful winemakers.
Matthewson grew up in the Finger Lakes in Hammondsport, NY. He began working at Bully Hill while in his teens during summers and school breaks. After college, he found himself working at Heron Hill, Swedish Hill and then Atwater Estate Vineyards as the assistant winemaker for four years. It was during his time at Atwater that he married Caitlin Barton. Caitlin’s parents, Bill and Cheryl Barton, opened Bellwether Hard Cider in 1999. With Kris’s background in wine, it seemed like the natural step to expand the production to include wines. In 2013, Kris released the first Bellwether wines.
Bellwether is the word for the male leader of a flock of female sheep. In this case, it symbolizes a progressive, industry leader. Kris thinks about his wines differently than most in the Finger Lakes region. He talks about texture more than residual sugar (or the lack thereof); he talks about depth and definition more than alcohol; he talks about acidity and mineral more than fruit. Looking to Germany for inspiration, Kris focuses on single vineyard Riesling and Pinot Noir (one of only three producers as of 2016 in the region to do so). The goal is to demonstrate how each vineyard and lake influences the wine, with the winemaker being only a small part of end result.
"The Bellwether wines, especially the Rieslings, are thoughtful and compelling, made via a combination of gut instinct and intellect. Though some can have a seriously funky edge, many are quite brilliant and certainly characterful. Production is extremely limited, at less than 2,000 cases per year."