Bedell Cellars - Perfecting The Art Of WineBedell Cellars - Sustainability
At Bedell Cellars we pursue sustainability in all our farming, winemaking, and business practices. We have been a leader in sustainable vineyard management since our company's founding in 1980 — before the term sustainability was even coined. Beginning with the 2012 vintage, all our grapes are Certified Sustainable by Long Island Sustainable Winegrowing, a non-profit, third-party certifying organization. But many people ask us, what does it actually mean for a wine to be sustainable?

A Little History
Sustainability entered the public lexicon in 1987 when the United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development published a seminal report titled Our Common Future, saying sustainability is "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." In 1989, the American Agronomy Society followed up the UN report with their own definition: "A sustainable agriculture is one that, over the long term, enhances environmental quality and the resource base on which agriculture depends; provides for basic human food and fiber needs; is economically viable; and enhances the quality of life for farmers and society as a whole."

At Bedell, we have developed our own unique definition of sustainability that is based on our role as stewards of the rich agricultural heritage of the North Fork of Long Island. Just like the English settlers who started farming this site in 1640, and the Corchaug Indian Tribe farming here 10,000 years before that, we are ensuring the sustained agricultural use of these lands for many more generations.

Sustainability As A Concept
Sustainability can be carried out successfully over a long period of time with minimal impact on the surrounding environment and maximum benefit for its participants. To be sustainable we take a long-term view of all our decisions and make choices that benefit our company, our community, and our planet. Sustainability is a way of life and a pathway to long-term success for everyone involved. Sustainability is a dynamic, evolving system that is defined locally. What works in one place may not work in another. Its flexibility reflects real world considerations and environments.

There are three core elements of sustainable wine: it should be economically viable, socially supportive, and ecologically sensitive. These three concepts together are the safest and best way for us to consistently produce high quality sustainable wine. At Bedell, we are successfully integrating these concepts into the everyday operations of growing, making, and marketing wine.

Sustainability In Our Vineyard
Our Vineyard Manager, Dave Thompson, is one of the pioneers of sustainable viticulture on Long Island. He implemented many sustainable-minded field practices in the 1980s, considered revolutionary at that time but now widely practiced throughout the industry. Dave also helped write the Long Island sustainability guidelines for Cornell University's Vine Balance Initiative, a "best practices" handbook for sustainable grape growing in New York State. There are several other ways we have worked for the public interest through a sustainability-minded vineyard program:
  • All three of Bedell's vineyard sites have been preserved "forever in agriculture" because we transferred our real estate development rights to Suffolk County.
  • We participate in the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service Environmental Quality Incentive Program and Conservation Security Program, which rewards good land stewardship through nutrient, pest and cropland management, natural windbreaks, and non-planted wildlife buffer areas.
  • We have a long history as an industry partner with Cornell University Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County, and served as a vineyard site for leaf-pulling and botrytis spray timing trials and organic fertilizer (peanut meal) trials.

  • Each of our three unique vineyard sites is a holistic ecological system. We maintain viticultural practices that produce the highest quality fruit possible, while also being sensitive to the environment and financially viable over time. We keep the system in balance through a series of vineyard "best practices," finely tuned over the past 30 years:
  • We established a dense cover crop of grasses, fescues, and clovers between the rows of grapevines to maintain high biological species diversity in the vineyard. These row-middle cover crops also reduce soil erosion and promote symbiotic relationships between plants and beneficial insects.
  • We minimize off-farm inputs such as agricultural chemicals to protect the farmer, the environment, and society at large.
  • We avoid or minimize the use of synthetic fertilizers, instead encouraging responsible natural stewardship of soil health, fertility, and stability.
  • If we have to spray a fungicide to control a specific grapevine pathogen such as powdery mildew, we use one with the lowest possible environmental impact.
  • We compost all natural by-products of grape pressing and fermentations and return them to the vineyard soil.
  • We avoid or minimize agricultural chemicals that do not biodegrade and might build-up in the soil over time.
  • We scout the vineyard for insects using Integrated Pest Management principles and economic threshold evaluation to eliminate or minimize insecticide use.
  • We encourage a natural flow of ecosystem elements through the presence of Bluebird houses, honey bee hives, and deer migration corridors.

  • At Bedell, we employ sustainable, ecological viticulture to ensure the highest quality fruit without unnecessary, high-risk practices. We grow grapes for our own unique environmental conditions - the first step toward a pure expression of local terroir in our wines.

    Sustainability In Our Winery
    At Bedell, our overall philosophy of winemaking is to exist at the forefront of creativity, expression, and style. We do this in part by blending wines from various vineyard sites and grape varieties using 100% estate grown fruit from the North Fork of Long Island AVA. But we also follow a series of best practices that our Winemaker, Rich Olsen-Harbich, and Founding Winemaker, Kip Bedell, have fine-tuned through their experience making wine on Long Island the past 30 years:
  • We minimize intervention and manipulation of the fruit on its way to becoming wine by utilizing a gentle, gravity-driven process at harvest. This leads to a more careful extraction of flavors from the grapes, less potential shearing of bitter seeds, and is more consistent with the ancient historical tradition of making wine.
  • We ferment our wines naturally, using our own indigenous yeast found in our own vineyard, on the skins our fruit, and in our cellar, rather than importing commercial yeast from a bioengineering firm in a faraway place.
  • Our wines are crafted carefully and gently, using the most natural techniques possible, utilizing gravity and natural settling techniques for clarification.
  • We do not use sugar, acids, or other additives, so our wines sincerely reflect the place of their birth.
  • We employ authentic winemaking methods and materials, including the use of human labor over machines, hand-coopered real oak barrels, and natural corks.
  • Our wines are crafted in the North Fork style: minimal oak, moderate alcohol, and refreshing acidity.

  • As a result of these sustainable, natural winemaking practices, our wines express remarkably focused aromas and flavors similar to the indigenous fruits, herbs, and ecosystem elements of the North Fork. Bedell's white wines express a unique saline minerality and contain aromas of indigenous plants such as chamomile, violet, honeysuckle, wild rose, and thyme, all combined with the bright fresh acidity resulting from growing grapes in a maritime climate.

    Bedell's red wines also derive many flavors from indigenous fruits and plants from the North Fork, such as wild beach plum, wild strawberries, wild blackberries, wild blueberries, violets, hickory, clover, cedar, sassafras, and dune brambles. These aromas and flavors are evident along with an earthy, gravelly quality of wet beach stones. These flavors are unique to our region, and our goal - our devotional responsibility - is to protect and showcase these indigenous flavors on their journey from the earth to the vine to the bottle.

    Sustainability And The Art Of Wine
    Many labels on our wines feature works of art by prominent artists whose art resides in museum collections around the world. But our relationships with these artists are just as important to the human and natural tableau of Long Island as our own employees and vineyards. Our connections with the artists run deep because they are all close personal friends of the Lynne Family, they are New Yorkers, and they all live or work on the East End of Long Island. In addition, the graphic designer for our website and many elements of our packaging is himself a grape grower and artist living a few miles down the road from Bedell Cellars.

    After working with the artists to produce our labels, we seek out sustainable materials to use in the wine production process. We use lighter-weight recycled glass bottles for our wines and print our artist labels on recycled papers with biodegradable inks. We use natural corks because we believe they are the best and most sustainable form of wine bottle closure - they are natural, biodegradable, and support the livelihood of two million cork bark farmers in Portugal. And we recycle everything from the production and sales process.

    At Bedell Cellars, we make sustainability-minded choices during the grape growing and wine making process to benefit our company, our community, and our planet.

    Bedell: Pursuing sustainability while perfecting the art of wine.