Liquid Assets: Bellwether Winemaker Kris Matthewson
In the latest issue of Edible Finger Lakes, we take a look at rising star winemaker Kris Matthewson. His journey in the wine industry began at Bully Hill Vineyards working as a “cellar rat” doing odd jobs all four summers during his college career at SUNY Utica. Over this time his professional aspirations transformed to winemaking, which led to him taking his first tasting room job at Heron Hill Winery after graduation. We went on to work at Swedish Hill Winery and then Atwater Vineyards. It was during his time as assistant winemaker at Atwater that he married into a cider family–his in-laws, Bill and Cheryl Barton, opened Bellwether Hard Cider in 1999. With Kris’s background in wine, it seemed like the next logical step to expand Bellwether to include winemaking. In 2013, Kris released the first Bellwether wines and the hard cider business officially became Bellwether Hard Cider and Wine Cellars.
Kris now produces 1,500 cases of wine a year at Bellwether, focusing solely on varietals that are best suited for the Finger Lakes region, Riesling and Pinot Noir. He painstakingly sorts and soaks his grapes for weeks on end to ensure the perfect quality and flavors. His winemaking processes are time consuming and detail oriented, but well worth the effort.