LaBelle Winery News
LaBelle Winery’s Pursuit of Perfection: NH Magazine Feature
Excerpt: Amy LaBelle lights up when she talks about grapes. The owner of LaBelle Winery in Amherst joined the New Hampshire winemaking community in 2010, when she and her husband, Cesar Arboleda, took a chance on opening a winery in the Granite State.
The cellar at LaBelle’s Winery is steeped in the smell of oak and grapes. LaBelle and her team harvest more than 7,000 pounds of grapes each year, but wine production in New Hampshire is not without its perils. A hard-freeze last year in the spring wiped out a seasonal crop in as little as five hours.
“I sat right in the vineyard and I cried,” LaBelle says. “But you can only do that for five minutes. Then you need a plan.”
Like other grape growers in New Hampshire, LaBelle’s plan includes hard work and partnering with other growers. She collaborates with trucker teams who drive virtually nonstop to bring West Coast grapes — less immune to frigid temperatures — as a substitute when New Hampshire grapes succumb to the cold.
Just this year, LaBelle pruned all of her 2022 grape vines alone. Augmenting her crop with California grapes is painful, but it has allowed LaBelle to maintain her primary reliance on New Hampshire grape production.