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Peter Bell Presented with Wine Grape Productivity Award

Posted on April 03, 2019

The Atlantic Seaboard Wine Association (ASWA) presented its 2018 Wine Grape Productivity Award to Peter Bell, Fox Run winemaker, honoring his knowledge, innovation, research, leadership and support of the American wine industry.

Grant Crandall, President of the ASWA Board said the they unanimously nominated Bell because he has shared his knowledge and kindness with hundreds in the industry, raising the overall quality of wine on the east coast. And many in the Finger Lakes in New York State agree.

“Peter has been a guiding light for the Finger Lakes through it all,” said Kelby Russell, winemaker at Red Newt Cellars. Russell met Bell in 2009 while interning at Fox Run Vineyards. “To my mind, Peter is one of the leading lights in an era of the Finger Lakes that we are prone to skip over, the 1990s.”

Bell has been the winemaker at Fox Run Vineyards for 24 years and serves as a consultant and mentor to dozens of winemakers, some of which are highly regarded in their own right. Bell studied enology in Australia and made wine in New Zealand before landing in the Finger Lakes. He was the winemaker at Dr. Konstantin Frank's Vinifera Wine Cellars for five years before joining Fox Run in 1995, he was also a guest winemaker at the University of Adelaide.

“For all of us in the Finger Lakes, it is easy to look at where we started versus where we are now, celebrate the latter, and take the pathway between the two as a fait accompli,” Russell said. “This serves a great injustice to all those who were part of that middle era, however, when no one had discovered the things we now take for granted. Those of us who he has mentored should all hope to take his lessons into our own work, as more and more of us join him in the ranks of boundary-pushing Finger Lakes winemakers.”

In 1997 Fox Run was awarded the Governor’s Cup for its Pinot Noir and has been a leader in the field ever since. In the late ‘90s Bell served as an adjunct lecturer of enology at Cornell University, molding the community for 15 years.

“Peter is the type of mentor to support you in what you hope to achieve, but he will not impose his ideas on you,” said Julia Hoyle, who got her start in the Tasting Room at Fox Run and is now the winemaker at Hosmer Winery. “He knows how to balance being a teacher whilst allowing you to explore new concepts and come to your own conclusions.”

Bell hosts regular tasting groups for winemakers in the Finger Lakes region. Every two weeks winemakers get together and blind taste each other’s wines, as well as wine from various regions around the world in order to analyze and improve their own work.

“Peter’s influence and impact is hard to overstate,” said Ben Peacock, co-owner and winemaker at Tousey Winery. “His unmatched knowledge of chemistry in winemaking on top of his relentless drive to produce delicious, flawless wine puts Peter in a place seldom few reside. And here's the trick - many would have a justifiably big head for being so accomplished but Peter doesn’t. He remains humble despite his lofty experience and knowledge.”

True to form, when Bell was questioned about the award, he shunned recognition with a self-effacing joke, “Everyone else that has received the award has been from Virginia—I thought they must’ve run out of people.”

Bell said that he could not have achieved his success without the prowess of Vineyard Manager John Kaiser, who has worked the land at Fox Run since 1984, and without the contributions of Assistant Winemaker Lindsey VanKeuren, a Penn Yan native who got her start at Fox Run in 2012. He also hastens to give credit to Co-Owner Scott Osborn. "When I was hired here, Co-Owner Scott Osborn was explicit about his vision that all Finger Lakes wineries should work together to create a regional brand."

VanKeuren said of Bell, “He has always had the vision that the more he can do to help others make the best wine they can, the more that would uplift the region. And we are lucky to work for owners that feel the same way.”

Fox Run Vineyards strives to make wine approachable. We offer in-depth tours of the vineyard and winemaking facility, a friendly and knowledgeable staff, and a Café that features a fully house-made menu with produce from our garden. Fox Run Vineyards is family-owned and has been making estate wines since 1989. Fox Run Vineyards overlooks Seneca Lake in the heart of New York’s Finger Lakes, America’s premier cool-climate wine region. Regularly recognized in national wine publications, Fox Run was voted Third Best Winery Restaurant and Seventh Best Tasting Room in USA Today’s National 10 Best Competition. Visit us online at foxrunvineyards.com.
 

Region: Northeast, USA
Job Function: Winemaking

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