When LaBelle Winery begins new construction, it’s not your average groundbreaking ceremony. On Thursday, November 17, LaBelle hosted “The Uncorking of the Land”, a celebration of the start to construction of their new 20,000 square foot Winery on Route 101 in Amherst. The highlight of the event was the pulling of an oversized LaBelle wine cork out of the earth using a giant 4 foot-tall corkscrew. As with the opening of a highly anticipated new bottle of wine, this “Uncorking of the Land” ceremony has been years in the making. LaBelle Winery has seen incredible growth and success, and the huge popularity of its locally-produced wines has caused it to more than outgrow its current location, necessitating this expansion.
LaBelle Winery is a realization of the American Dream. Founded by winemaker Amy LaBelle, the Winery began as a small hobby. From Amy’s love of winemaking, hard work and entrepreneurial spirit, the Winery blossomed, and has since brought enjoyment to connoisseurs and casual drinkers alike, across New England. LaBelle Winery has been producing unique, high quality New Hampshire wine for six years, having first created its flagship apple wine in the fall of 2005. In the first year of business, LaBelle produced about 400 cases of wine; today LaBelle produces over 6,000 cases of 22 wine varieties. LaBelle Winery began with only one store as a retail outlet, and now LaBelle wine is carried in over 200 stores across New Hampshire and Massachusetts. They’ve come a long way, but their growth continues – despite the economy – and demand for LaBelle Wine is far from satisfied. The new facility will allow LaBelle Winery to more than quadruple the amount of wine produced in the current location on Chestnut Hill in Amherst.
LaBelle is a family business, run by Amy and her husband Cesar Arboleda. Their skill and creativity in creating wine has made LaBelle Winery flourish, and those in attendance at Thursday’s Groundbreaking Ceremony were witness to the first step towards the next stage of this growing business. Winemaker Amy LaBelle says “we feel so blessed to be successful in these challenging times, and are thrilled that our new Winery will bring new jobs and tourism to the Amherst area so that others may be successful too.”
The 20,000 square foot new construction will consist of approximately 9,900 square feet of manufacturing space for the winery, 5,000 square feet for the elegant event center, 1,500 square feet for retail and tasting room space, a barrel room, two terraces, and a private function space with its own terrace. The new Winery’s event space will seat 200 people for banquet events such as weddings, meetings and celebrations, and also will provide the location for LaBelle Winery events such as 5 course wine pairing dinners, Guest Chef events, cooking and winemaking classes, art exhibits, a music series and other similar events. The timber frame construction building, which will sit high atop the Bragdon Farm hillside, will be surrounded by vineyards producing two types of grapes for winemaking, and other farmed items such as herbs, peppers, onions, and tomatoes, all to be used in winery-produced products. It is anticipated that the flooring, walls and roof of the new Winery should be complete by February. Once the building’s exterior is in place, the interior will be completed and the spring will be spent creating the lavish landscaping and planting the 3 acres of vineyard vines. The Grand Opening is planned for late summer 2012.
Thursday’s “Uncorking” event was attended by board members and administrators from the Town of Amherst, representatives from BMA Architectural Group, the architect for the new Winery, as well as members of Fulcrum Associates, the construction manager for the new winery, and Enterprise Bank, who is contributing to funding the project. This ceremony also coincides with the addition of Fireside Catering to the LaBelle team, as the exclusive caterer and event team servicing the new Winery’s weddings and social events.
More Photos from the Uncorking of the Land: