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Big Red Boast for Long Island Winery

by Stacey Shackford
Long Island Winery

At Bedell Cellars on Long Island, the Big Red boast isn’t just about its critically acclaimed Merlot blend, Musée—the winery also employs several generations of Cornell graduates.

From winemaker to sales manager, the roles run the gamut, and CEO Trent Preszler says it speaks to the diversity of offerings at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences 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” says Preszler, a 2002 M.S. grad in agricultural economics who is also a Cornell Ph.D. candidate in viticulture.

“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 is also a Cornell graduate, (B.S. Plant Science), as is its national sales manager Adriana Coderch ’10 (B.S. Food Science, Enology), social media specialist Steve Carlson ’09 (B.S. Food Science, Enology), and former harvest intern Benjamin Riccardi ’08 (B.S. Plant Science, Viticulture), who 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. 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,” Preszler says.

“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.”

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