Kelby James Russell

This is the own-label of Kelby Russell, winemaker at Red Newt. Kelby is Finger Lakes through and through, having been raised immediately north of the Finger Lakes wine region. After High School, he went to Harvard and gained a Bachelors degree in Government with a minor in Economics. But having learned enough about both of these disciplines to realize he wanted no part in either, he returned home to pursue a wine industry career. As luck would have it, Kelby landed on the doorstep of Fox Run Vineyards and legendary winemaker Peter Bell the first day of harvest 2009. Expecting a formal interview and having arrived in his Sunday best, he soon found himself covered in grape skins and realized he never wanted to leave. He worked for the next three years at Fox Run Vineyards, while taking annual 'vacations' to work additional harvests in the southern hemisphere at Whitehaven Winery in Marlborough, New Zealand, Pipers Brook Vineyards/Kreglinger Estates, a Tasmanian producer of single vineyard Pinot Noirs and traditional method sparkling wines, and at Yalumba Winery's premium production site in the Barossa Valley.
Kelby returned from Australia to take up a permanent position at Red Newt Cellars (qv) and Bistro on Seneca Lake in Hector, New York in 2014. In his early days there, when David Whiting was still proprietor and winemaker, he had suggested to Kelby that he create a wine project of his own as a creative outlet. And so, with a diverse selection of vineyards and wine styles, this 'off-beat' label began with wines both in reference to their musical inspiration (each wine has a musical match) as well as their individual spirit, the wines exhibiting a more maverick style than those Kelby makes in the course of his day job

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