Fox Run Vineyard's head wine maker Peter Bell to retire in September
Fox Run Vineyards announced that Peter Bell, its head winemaker, will be retiring effective September 1, 2022.
Bell began his career in the Finger Lakes as the winemaker for Dr. Konstantin Frank Cellars in 1990. He joined Fox Run Vineyards five years later as its head winemaker. There, he found a kindred spirit in Fox Run’s co-owner, Scott Osborn. It’s a special relationship that would last over 27 years.
Osborn recounted why he hired Bell back in 1995. “Peter and I used to judge a lot of wine competitions together. We had plenty of time to talk between flights. That’s how I got to know him. I knew we were cut from the same cloth.”
Bell added, “Scott is the number one reason for my success. We are very simpatico. We respect each other. He gives me the freedom to try new things. This is the perfect job for me as I had no intention of owning my own winery.”
At Fox Run, Bell quickly turned the winery into a model of excellence, producing a breadth of wines that satisfied a wide variety of wine drinkers. Osborn said, “My philosophy is that every wine, even the least expensive wine, needs the same amount of attention. And Peter has maintained that year after year. Our customers became loyal customers because they always knew what they would get.”
Production of Fox Run wines under Bell has risen from 3,000 cases in 1995 to over 20,000 cases today.
Considered by many to be the current dean of winemaking in the Finger Lakes, Bell is universally admired for his selfless willingness to help others. He was named by Vineyard and Winery Management Magazine as one of the 20 Most Admired Winemakers in America in 2014.
Dave Breeden, the renowned head winemaker at Sheldrake Point Winery, remarked, “I’ve been making wine in the Finger Lakes for over 20 years now, and Peter’s always been my first call when I had a winemaking problem. I have learned so much from him. He has done more to raise the quality bar in Finger Lakes wines than any other person.”
Indeed, Bell’s mentorship has spawned a whole generation of Finger Lakes winemakers, with Julia Hoyle at Hosmer Winery and Kelby Russell at Red Newt Winery being two of the notable winemakers who had passed through his cellar doors.
Bell’s eagerness to experiment and perpetual curiosity also made him a favorite among researchers. Chris Gerling, the Senior Extension Associate at Cornell AgriTech, said, “Peter is the first call we make when we are looking for research partners to pilot new techniques because we know he will say yes, do it right and also share what he learns with others.”
Osborn summed up Bell’s career this way, “This is the end of an era. Peter has influenced this wine region dramatically. One of the reasons that the Finger Lakes got to where it is today is because of Peter Bell’s collaborations, his willingness to share knowledge and his appetite for teaching young people about winemaking.”
Bell’s passion in winemaking has not diminished, but enduring back issues finally convinced him to retire from the daily toil of working in a winery. Although his regular presence at Fox Run’s cellars will be missed, Bell is not going anywhere. He intends to continue in a wine consulting capacity in the Finger Lakes after his retirement.