What started in 1992 as a 12-acre hobby that felt welcomingly far from Mark and Kathy Lieb’s former worlds in finance has since grown into an 85-acre vineyard producing some of the best wines on Long Island’s North Fork.
Lieb Cellars, established nine years before the region that’s a mere 80 miles east of New York City was even officially designated an American Viticultural Area (now home to 38), debuted its first line of reserve wines in 1999 under the deft direction of Australian-born winemaker Russell Hearn. Top pick lists from the New York Times to the Chicago Tribune have recognized Lieb Cellars’ wines as something special ever since.
A big part of Lieb’s success lay in knowing that great wines are made in the vineyard. By design, Lieb’s vines (which include 11 different grape varieties) were planted in the shallow, sandy, well-draining soils between two bodies of water – the Long Island Sound and the Peconic Bay – that keep temperatures moderate and the growing season long. The vines are hand-tended and hand-harvested – a recipe for very happy grapes! So is Lieb’s commitment to herbicide-free, pesticide-free and sustainable farming to keep the ocean and surrounding waters healthy.
With two public tasting rooms, a custom crush facility and their Bridge Lane series of brighter, fruitier “everyday” wines, Russell and his team’s hands are never idle. They’ve even debuted alternative formats for their Bridge Lane wines (like three-liter boxes and 20-liter kegs) that reduce their carbon footprint and lower production costs.
Perhaps the finance and winemaking worlds aren’t so far apart after all.