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Red Newt Winemaker Brings Harvest to Social Media

Kelby Russell

The fall grape harvest has been underway for a couple of weeks in the Finger Lakes. I stopped by Red Newt Cellars on Saturday to talk to winemaker Kelby Russell about how harvest is going.

“It’s a really long, slow leg phase to the start of harvest this year. We’ve had some fruit come in, but everything for the most part is hanging nicely. The fruit looks good and it was a cool, damp summer so things are lagging behind in terms of general ripenesses as opposed to what we would generally expect at the end of September.”

Some of the fruit that has come in for Russell is his first Riesling pick of the year, which he celebrated with great enthusiasm on his Instagram account. That’s an increasingly valuable tool for Russell both as a winemaker and an advocate for Finger Lakes wines.

“Social media is, I think, always a form of performance art even if you’re just using it for your personal life. But, especially in the wine industry whether it’s a sommelier or a winemaker where there’s intense fascination behind the scenes. It’s really a chance for us to show what does happen behind the scenes and not just when we’re dressed up for a wine dinner, which is real performance art in terms of how artificial it is. So, to actually show people, whether they’re in the industry or not what’s happening in the winery...even the mundane things, we like putting up videos or posts of bottling, which is a dirge to us. But, is something that most people didn’t have a chance to see or experience. To present that in a way that’s both fresh and honest resonates with people.”

Kelly Walker started his public radio career at WBAA in West Lafayette, Indiana in 1985 and has spent some time in just about every role public broadcasting has to offer. He has spent substantive time in programming and development at KWMU in St. Louis, WFIU in Bloomington, Indiana, and Troy Public Radio in Alabama before his arrival in Geneva, New York. In addition, his work has been heard on many other public radio stations as well as NPR. Kelly also produces The Sundilla Radio Hour, which airs Sundays at 1 p.m. on Finger Lakes Public Radio and is distributed to public radio stations all over the country through PRX.
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