Meet Your (Wine) Maker: Dan Bissell of Keuka Spring Vineyards

Upon moving to the Finger Lakes from New Jersey in 2007, it didn’t take him long to fall into his first winery job at a local tasting room. Fascinated and overwhelmed by all of the science and magic that went into making the wine, he vowed to learn more and started working in production.
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Dan Bissell of Keuka Spring Vineyards.

Upon moving to the Finger Lakes from New Jersey in 2007, it didn’t take him long to fall into his first winery job at a local tasting room. Fascinated and overwhelmed by all of the science and magic that went into making the wine, he vowed to learn more and started working in production. Although he has no formal wine education, Daniel has many years experience working in all aspects of the industry. Most recently he owned and operated a wine, cider, and cocktail bar in Geneva called Kashong Creek. Daniel joined the Keuka Spring team for the 2020 harvest as assistant winemaker. 2021 will be his first vintage as a head winemaker. We hope you enjoy learning more about him!

What do you find most challenging about making wine here?

What attracts me most to making wine here in the Finger Lakes is also what I find the most challenging. Vintage Variation. Every harvest season we experience continuously unique weather conditions that affect the chemistry and flavor of our fruit. Over the years, you learn creative winemaking techniques that help you deal with all those variables in an effort to produce wine that showcases the variety as well as year that it was made. At the end of the day, that makes this both an extremely frustrating and wildly exciting place to make wine.


What was your biggest winemaking blunder?

During my first vintage working in a wine cellar I was at a much larger facility. I was tasked with adding nutrient to a very active fermentation in a very large outdoor tank. Equipped at the time with very little patience, I made the addition far too quickly and the tank began to aggressively overflow resulting in a river of wine escaping down the driveway. Needless to say, I did not make that mistake again.


What is your favorite non-wine FLX beverage?

Cider.


Any harvest habit/superstition/tradition?

I find it important to yell “good luck yeast!” every time we are pitching a new fermentation. Normally I am not a superstitious person, but in this case it has become a part of the procedure that I refuse to change. After all, they are alive like plants so maybe they can hear us.


Who in the FLX wine community do you admire?

Some of the people I really admire in this community are…
Derek Wilber (Swedish Hill) (one of the smartest minds I have ever met)
Ian Barry (Barry Family Cellars)(Six-Eighty Cellars)
Nathan Kendall (Nathan K)(Hickory Hollow)
Lynne Fahy (Paul Hobbs)

Keuka Spring Vineyards, https://www.keukaspringwinery.com/, 243 Route 54, East Lake Rd, Penn Yan,  (315) 536-3147

The Edible Finger Lakes Meet Your (Wine) Maker column is developed in partnership with the Finger Lakes Wine Alliance whose mission is to increase the visibility and reputation of the Finger Lakes AVA, its wines, and wineries.

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