CUTCHOGUE, NY (October 5, 2023) — As an affirmation to his belief in the quality, longevity, and sustainability of the North Fork of Long Island, Russell Hearn and business partners purchased Lieb Cellars after over thirty years as Lieb’s head winemaker.
“I first met Mark and Kathy Lieb three decades ago. They were passionate about wine and looking to showcase the best Long Island had to offer, which continues to be the goal of Lieb Cellars to this day,” said Russell Hearn. “Lieb focuses on Pinot Blanc, Sparkling Cuvees and a selection of strong red varietals, all wines I have been proud to make for the Lieb brand for the past 30 years and I look forward to continuing to make for many years to come.”
One of Long Island’s pioneer wine veterans, Russell has made extensive contributions to the New York wine industry over his past three decades working in the region with his wines garnering extensive critical acclaim and industry wide respect. Australian born, Russell started his career in Western Australia and has taken his training with him throughout his journey with experience gained working in New Zealand, France, and regions across the US. During his tenure on Long Island, Russell Hearn’s innovative winemaking style has influenced the quality of many wineries across the region, the most notable being Pellegrini Vineyards (1990 – 2012), Lieb Cellars (1993 – present), T’Jara Vineyards (2002 – 2018), Bridge Lane (2004 – present), and Suhru Wines (2008 – present). An active member of the Long Island Wine Region, Hearn founded Premium Wine Group, a custom crush facility in 2000, bringing the first winery of its kind to the East Coast and resulting in an explosion of new wine brands and tasting rooms opening across the region.
Now, in what is sure to be one of his most personally satisfying and rewarding ventures, Russell has teamed up with his wife Susan Hearn (founder of Suhru Wines), eldest daughter Shelby Hearn Ulrich (General Manager of Suhru Wines), son-in-law Brad Ulrich (Assistant Winemaker of Suhru Wines), and their new business partners John and Renée Fondacaro in the unification of Lieb Cellars and Suhru Wines. Their goal, to continue to grow both Suhru and Lieb Cellars, accentuating the best of both brands while introducing a few new ideas.
“Partnership to me is always stimulating,” said Hearn. “It brings differing views to the table to hopefully drive the best direction forward. This unification of Suhru and Lieb is a blending of two family owned brands as well as the blending of two families, the Fondacaros and our own. The future is clearly defined. Our ultimate goal is to lean on our varied skill sets and experience, both from within and outside the wine industry, to make both Suhru and Lieb better and better for our current and future guests.”
The Lieb Cellars Tasting Room will continue to feature a selection of Lieb Cellars and Bridge Lane wines as it does currently through the end of 2023, with Suhru Wines introduced to the Oregon Road Tasting Room in the new year. Russell will continue as the winemaker for Bridge Lane Wine and CEO of Premium Wine Group, his roles with both companies are unchanged.
About Lieb Cellars: Founded in 1992, Lieb Cellars is a 54-acre sustainably farmed vineyard and winery located on the North Fork of Long Island, 80 miles east of New York City. The company produces hand-crafted estate grown wines under the Lieb Cellars label. Pinot Blanc is their signature wine and has been called “excellent” by the New York Times. Lieb has a tasting room on the North Fork of Long Island and their wines are distributed in 14 states and growing. For more information, visit www.liebcellars.com