Mondavi co-founder pays return visit to Amherst winery
Winemaker Michael Mondavi chats with LaBelle Winery owners Amy LaBelle and Cesar Arboleda during a tour of the Amherst facility. (APRIL GUILMET/Union Leader Correspondent)
But LaBelle had visions of one day opening a winery in her home state: a dream she shared during an encounter with wine maven Michael Mondavi.
"He was kind enough to stop by and offer encouraging words, just so gracious," LaBelle said. "We kept in touch after."
On Wednesday afternoon, LaBelle had a very special visitor on the premises.
"This place is beautiful," declared Mondavi, who is in town for Wine Week with his son, Rob Mondavi, Jr. "Just beautiful."
A tour of the entire facility, and the chance to meet some of LaBelle's 40 or so staff members, soon commenced.
Several years later, she and her husband, Cesar Arboleda, were operating a small winery based out of Alyson's Orchard in Walpole, selling their products on weekends at farmer's markets and local shops.
In fall 2012, the couple opened their current, 20,000-square-foot facilities on their Amherst property, featuring an event center, retail shop, café and production area.
Things have certainly come a long way since Mondavi's last visit to New Hampshire.
With $272 million in wine sales this past fiscal year at the New Hampshire Liquor Commission's 77 NH Liquor & Wine Outlet locations, New Hampshire is a significant player in the wine world.
Noting that his own family's humble beginnings, Mondavi said he's grown fond of mentoring novices.
Four generations of winemaking began in 1919 when Michael's grandfather Cesare was elected to find grapes and winemaking supplies for families to make legally during prohibition.
Visit www.NHWineWeek.com and www.labellewinerynh.com.
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