Ben Riccardi, 33, is a young winemaker in the Finger Lakes region of New York. Since 2014 he has invested his life savings into French oak barrels, purchasing the best chardonnay he could afford and renting a small space in a winemaking facility that allowed him to borrow their equipment. Although Ben is from the Finger Lakes, he has been constructing a 200-case production remotely for three years while his day job was at Williams Seylem in Sonoma County, California. As of 2017, he moved back home to work full-time at Osmote and has already raised his production to 500 cases. A degree earned in oenology at Cornell University paired with several vintages spent in New Zealand and the south of France; Ben is looking to acquire a plot of land to build a winery and plant vines to farm organically.
Ben sources many of his grapes from vineyards grown around Seneca Lake, the the largest, deepest Finger Lake and the crown jewel of New York State's premier cool climate region. Here viticulture exists on the edge of possibility. Even though winter lows are often sub-zero across upstate New York, this lake over 600ft deep never freezes and the warmth of the water keeps the vines alive through the frozen months. Vines thrive in sedimentary soils set on the steep shale stone slopes banks of the lake.