Harvest 2011: Bedell Cellars’ Annual Indigenous Yeast Ceremony
By Lenn Thompson, Executive Editor
Earlier today Rich Olsen-Harbich, winemaker at Bedell Cellars sent me the following email to describe the unique picture at right:
"This is the second year of our annual indigenous yeast ceremony. We used ten gallons of freshly pressed chardonnay juice for the base. Everyone at Bedell was asked to bring an item that was both local and special to them in some way.
As the bright Fall sun shone down on us, our staff gathered around the demi-john of chardonnay juice. Kip (Bedell) brought an oyster shell and Trent (Preszler) brought some wild roses and shells from Indian Neck Point beach. Other items included in the culture were wildflowers like Jerusalem Artichoke, chicory and mountain laurel. Water from both the Peconic Bay and Long Island Sound was also added, baptizing our culture with the breath of the surrounding waters. The Lynne family provided an apple from their orchard.
This year, our ceremony was held in Michael Lynne’s cottage garden in the center of a series of concentric plantings of boxwood, lavender and native sea grass. The cottage garden is part of the original site of the original David Homestead circa 1640.
It’s a way for us to start the harvest with tradition, ceremony and celebration — as well as providing a base culture of indigenous yeast to start our first white wine fermentations. Everyone in the company feels involved in the process and can also feel that a little part of them (and the natural bounty of the North Fork) is in every bottle of our wine. This culture will grow for a couple more days before being added to our first wine — the 2011 Bedell Blanc de Blancs sparkler. The culture will also be used in all of our white wines this year."