Richard Olsen-Harbich shares his favorite things with us. Photograph by David Benthal
The Bedell Cellars winemaker has been producing Long Island wines for over 40 years. When it comes to the North Fork wine region, Rich is an OG, and he has plenty of favorite NOFO things to share.
This is probably my 41st vintage of winemaking in the East End,” says Richard Olsen-Harbich, who has been a winemaker at Bedell Cellars (bedellcellars.com) for 12 years. He produced wine on the North Fork long before the region was known for its wine and played a major role in creating an established wine region.
Olsen-Harbich’s passion for winemaking is in its DNA. “My mother was born in the wine region of Germany and the house she was born in is surrounded by vineyards. My grandparents worked there in the vineyards. My paternal grandfather came to America in 1912 and ended up opening a speakeasy. So there’s alcohol running through my veins, so to speak, in a very good way.
Originally from Long Island, Olsen-Harbich grew up in West Suffolk and didn’t know much about the North Fork until he eventually moved here after graduating from Cornell. “My academic career was focused on agriculture and I became interested in viticulture and wine production. I figured I’d end up making wine somewhere far away and exotic, but I ended up getting a job in the North Fork. I fell in love with the landscape, the smells, the mild climate, the water and the way the light dances over it. It was just like home.
THESE ARE RICH’S FAVORITE NORTH FORK THINGS AS TOLD TO GINA WAY:
FAVORITE FISHING SITES
I love to fish and my two favorite places are in the same area. One is Kenney’s Beach in Southold on the Sound. It’s a great place to catch scratches, especially in the fall. Just south of Kenney’s Beach is a freshwater pond called Great Pond, which is a beautiful, quiet place for solitude that also happens to be full of fish like perch and largemouth bass.
FAVORITE KAYAK TRIP
I live near Mattituck Inlet, which is kind of like a river flowing from north to south. Native Americans used to travel from the strait to Peconic Bay using the entrance and then portaging the short distance to James Creek. It’s such a quiet place to kayak. We’ll start from the highway’s launch point and paddle north as it winds through the strait. There are plenty of wildlife to see along the way, such as nesting birds and ospreys. You can also paddle past the historic Old Mill, which was originally a flour mill in the 1800s and later became an inn and restaurant.
FAVORITE PLACE TO WATCH THE SUNSET
There are always lots of cars parked near Bailie Beach in Mattituck at the end of the day. That’s because it’s one of the best places to watch the sun go down. Purple, pink, orange and red colors are really exquisite. I’ve been to lots of different places around the world, but I’ve seen the most spectacular sunsets here.
FAVORITE HIKING TRAIL
Downs Farm Preserve in Cutchogue is home to the remains of Fort Corchaug, the only remnants of a Native American fort on the east coast. The trail runs along a famous cove where Dutch ships would anchor off the coast and row to trade with Native Americans. Looks like there are a lot of ghosts in these historic woods along Downs Creek. It’s very spiritual and very pretty – with lots of wildlife including owls, ospreys and eagles.
FAVORITE LOCAL COFFEE
Owner Aldo Maiorana opened Aldo’s Coffee Company in Greenport in 1987, when no one really cared about gourmet coffee. He’s really passionate about it and does his own roasting, so you can buy whole beans, ground coffee, or the best cup of coffee you’ll ever have. Aldo also makes the most delicious scones. I blow my calorie count every time I go.
FAVORITE NIGHTLIFE RESTAURANTS
My wife and I love Noah’s Restaurant. They have fresh local seafood and the best oysters on the half shell you can find anywhere. They are committed to all things local, not just seafood, but also local produce and wine. Another favorite dinner spot is Grana Trattoria Antica & Enoteca. They make my favorite pizza, besides the one I cook myself at home. The wood-fired pizzas have organic and local toppings, and they’re delicious. Our order: Fig with caramelized onion, aged mozzarella and gorgonzola.
FAVORITE FARM STAND
I always stop at Wickham’s Fruit Farm for tree fruits like apples, peaches, nectarines, plums and pears. The Wickham family have owned this historic farmhouse since the 1600s and still run it today. They even squeeze their own cider into a giant contraption that’s over 100 years old. Another place I love for its great local produce is Bayview Farm & Market, which is run by the Reeve family. The farm stretches all the way south to Peconic Bay, and they grow corn, all kinds of tree fruit, strawberries and grapes – to eat, not to make wine.