The wine industry in some ways can be compared to a petulant child. It can be stubborn and resistant to change, but like it or not it’s growing every day (and it often revolves around eating, drinking, and napping, but I digress). Wine values and traditions hold a place, but we need to keep stretching forward. The trick is in the balance. The really great wineries are able to hold onto the past and at the same time carve out a future. One such winery is Lieb Cellars.
Is this Love? Or Lieb? You may not get my subtle Bob Marley reference but you would if you visited Lieb. Walking through the doors the sounds of good old Bob drift through the air as you take in the contemporary and abstract surroundings. It’s exactly that relaxed atmosphere that sets Lieb apart from the traditional wineries that are dotted through the region. The building, converted offices that were turned into a tasting room when they expanded in 2012, is best described as rustic chic, and it’s easy to stroll and feel at home.
A Happy Accident. When Mark and Cathy Lieb first broke ground, they thought they were starting with vines full of the crowd pleasing Chardonnay grape. However, on further investigation, they realized what they had was acres and acres of Pinot Blanc. Their first intention was to rip it out and start fresh. But thanks to then and now winemaker Russell Hearn, they kept it. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise: With Pinot Blanc being so rarely grown, they quickly stood out and received recognition for this varietal.
Their prominent label, Lieb Cellars, holds fast to the traditions of the wine community. The wines are aged in oak and are meant to be complex and cellared. Yet in recent years as the Lieb’s took a back seat, a new creative team came in – and Bridge Lane Wines was born.
A Bridge to the Future. (I’m running out of funny puns guys. It’s a problem.) The creative team at Lieb wanted to do something different: create a “fruit forward, food friendly wine at a lower price.” And that is exactly what they did. Bridge Lane Wine is meant to drink right away. It is offered in bottles, boxes, and kegs, so you can enjoy your wine wherever you are. Is the wine community ready for box wine? Probably not. For too long, box wine has been associated with headaches and regret. But if you told me ten years ago we would have wines on tap and screw top bottles I would have laughed in your face (ok maybe I would have nodded politely and laughed behind your back.) Either way, what Lieb is creating is quality wine in a convenient container, and it’s a matter of time before it catches on.
A box of Bridge Lane wines holds up to four bottles and lasts for up to a month (if it’s not gone before then!) The keg holds twenty-six bottles and also lasts a month: the perfect option for parties (or a really tough day at work, am I right people?)
A Pearl’s Opinion. You can be as innovative as you want, but if your wines are not quality there’s no point. It’s fortunate then that the wines at Lieb are in fact quite good. My recommendation is their 2014 Pinot Blanc. Lieb has the largest acreage of Pinot Blanc in the US (with 14 acres). It’s a full bodied white with a strong pear nose that is definitely worth a try. Their sparkling selection is also fabulous.
In the end, Lieb Cellars is simply a fun time. Its staff is a group of creative people that are passionate about wine and are willing to try something new. They host live music and Rose Crawls and even bring in food trucks on the weekends! If you are in the North Fork region, stop by Lieb Cellars and enjoy a glass of wine with them. And tell Bob Marley the Pearl says hello.