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Big Red boast for Long Island winery

At Bedell Cellars on Long Island's north fork, the big red boast isn't just about its critically acclaimed Merlot blend, Musée -- the winery also employs several generations of Cornell graduates.

Rich Olsen-Harbich '83 with founding winemaker Kip Bedell

Rich Olsen-Harbich '83, center, inspects the Merlot with founding winemaker Kip Bedell, left. At right is Seferino Cotzojay, cellarmaster of Bedell Cellars. Photo provided by Bedell Cellars.

From winemaker to sales manager, the roles run the gamut, and CEO Trent Preszler, M.S. '02, says it speaks to the diversity of offerings at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) and the breadth of skills its graduates acquire.

"The CALS degrees are not one-dimensional, and the students gain expertise in all aspects of the wine business during the program there," says Preszler, who received his master's degree in the field of agricultural economics and is a current Ph.D. candidate in the viticulture program.

Adriana Coderch '10 at New York City market

Adriana Coderch '10, Bedell's national sales manager, at Bedell Cellars' table at the New Amsterdam Market in New York City. Photo provided by Bedell Cellars.

"They become fluent in aspects of business and marketing, chemistry and botany, microbiology and sensory science. All those interests are then piqued and primed for when they enter a job in industry, and they are ready to contribute to a winery in a variety of ways," he adds.

Bedell winemaker Rich Olsen-Harbich '83 majored in plant science; its national sales manager Adriana Coderch '10 in food science and enology, and social media specialist Steve Carlson '09 in food science and enology; its former harvest intern Benjamin Riccardi '08, who majored in plant science and viticulture, went on to become the winemaker at Lamoreaux Landing in Lodi.

"We recruit from CALS because we know these graduates will have knowledge specific to our industry and our growing climate," Preszler says. "Many of them come from family farms or wineries and understand on an intimate level what they're getting into, and they aren't afraid to roll up their sleeves and work hard."

Bedell's Taste Red wine

Bedell's Taste Red wine. Photo provided by Bedell Cellars.

Olsen-Harbich says Cornell has evolved a great deal since he graduated. There was only one viticulture course then, and Olsen-Harbich had to seek out professors and other collaborators to pursue his independent study on such topics as pruning weights, bud cold-hardiness, grafting and the effects of sulfur dioxide on machine-picked grapes. He was one of the people who worked with former Dean Susan Henry to develop the four-year viticulture and enology degree program, launched in 2008.

"Over the years, Cornell has both led and responded to the needs of the wine industry," Olsen-Harbich says. "At times the university has been prodded by industry to delve deeper into topics and needs, while at other points the work done at Cornell has opened new doors and pathways otherwise unseen."

Known for the way he combines tradition and best practices with a bit of the avant garde, Olsen-Harbich credits Cornell with providing him with the scientific training to allow him to push creativity within the proper framework.

"Much of what I do is somewhat frowned upon by the academic establishment -- the use of indigenous yeasts, minimal intervention and filtration, to name a few," he states. "That being said, the chemistry and biology of the process is empirical and important to understand as one goes deeper into the craft."

Trent Preszler

Bedell Cellars' CEO Trent Preszler, M.S. '02. Photo provided by Bedell Cellars.

In addition to receiving recognition for the quality of its wines -- its 2007 Musée recently set a new record for Long Island red wines with an award of 91 points from Wine Spectator magazine -- Bedell is a longstanding leader in the sustainable viticulture movement on Long Island and helped author the region's sustainability guidelines.

Owned by film executive and art collector Michael Lynne, Bedell and its sister winery, Corey Creek Vineyards, encompass 78 acres in Cutchogue and Southold that yield approximately 10,000 cases of wine annually. Its tasting rooms also double as art galleries, and its labels are designed by renowned artists Barbara Kruger, Ross Bleckner and Chuck Close.

Bedell wines to be featured at Feb. 8 NYC dinner

Bedell Cellars will be featured at the next Cornell Winemaker Dinner Series at The Cornell Club-New York Tuesday, Feb. 8. Trent Preszler will be joined by Rich Olsen-Harbich and Adriana Coderch at this four-course dinner and wine tasting. Cost is $65 per person. Cocktail reception begins at 6 p.m. Register now at

Stacey Shackford is a staff writer at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.


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