Meet the Maker: Kelby James Russell

Join Finger Lakes based Kelby as he teleports from the Red Newt Cellars bottling line to the vineyard through his sheer excitement to introduce his 2015 dry Riesling.

I've been following Kelby's work in the Finger Lakes region of New York since he landed on the scene a decade ago and proud to call him a good friend. After 11 years at Red Newt Cellars he's embarking on a new chapter of his career, having just purchased @lahoma.vineyards and launching his own winery @apollospraise! We've got the last bit of the outstanding 2015 Red Newt Dry Riesling available, well, anywhere really – it's a unicorn – and it's SINGING.

Kelby's wines are thoughtful, precise, expressive of place and damn tasty! Kelby Russell is a Finger Lakes native who attended Harvard University and received his Bachelors degree in Government with a minor in Economics ('Apollo's Praise' was a Glee Club favourite).

Having learned enough about both of these disciplines to realize he wanted no part in either, Kelby returned to his native Finger Lakes to pursue a wine industry career in the Finger Lakes. He worked at Finger Lakes' based Fox Run Winery (also one of our favourites worth checking out), and then scratched an itch to see how winemaking was done else where in Australia and New Zealand before returning right back to where it all started. His passion for the region runs deep, and so do the lakes!

Here's a little outtake from an interview between Kelby and Jamie Goode to understand a little more about his love and understanding of the land. 

"The real reason for the existence of the Finger Lakes as a wine region is actually the Great Lakes. This catches people off guard: we are so used to thinking of the extreme microclimate doing the work, but probably 90% of the climatic lifting is done by Lake Ontario to our north, which we share with our neighbours due west in the Ontario wine regions. Because Lake Ontario is due north and doesn’t really freeze, winter kill isn’t an issue by and large. A really cold wind has to come from the north and it has to pass over a large body of water before it hits us.

"The exciting answer about why the wines are so good is that along this narrow strip of land around the Finger Lakes themselves, you have this amazing confluence of slope, sun exposure, and protection from even colder temperatures, giving a long ripening window. Growth is delayed in the spring because the lakes are cold so we avoid frost risk, and then it extends the growing season through late October and early November. For the right grapes, it’s a real chance to make magic, and a real chance to do things aromatically with white grapes in particular that stands out. We have nice diurnal temperature swings and really nice acidity. This is something that has always worked well here. Native grapes come from this area and have been growing here for centuries. There is a reason they grow so well."

You can read the whole piece here:

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