Amherst, NH – Fulcrum Associates of Amherst recently celebrated the completion of LaBelle Winery in Amherst. The new 20,000sf winery nestled on the hillside of the former Bragdon Farm on Route 101 is a family business, run by winemaker Amy LaBelle and her husband Cesar Arboleda.
The new California-style winery is of timber framed construction wrapped by structural insulated panels and sided with a blend of EFIS and clapboard and shingle siding. The extensive glazing bathes the West-facing facility in natural light providing a very inviting atmosphere throughout all the spaces. The main entrance is protected by an arched copper roofed canopy that leads you into the large vaulted two-story tasting room and retail space. The tasting bar and French brasserie café provide a comfortable environment for enjoying the fruit of LaBelle’s labor. The tasting room flows outside to one of three terraces featuring a fire bowl that enhances the ambiance.
From the tasting room you get a glimpse of a three-story space housing five, 23-foot-tall stainless steel fermentation tanks that will help increase the winery distribution from 18,000 to about 60,000 gallons per year. The gallery space is multi-functional and overlooks the area designed to ultimately house 13 of the 23-foot-tall tanks.
Through the gallery you enter the “Vintage Room” a private dining and function room with seating for 32, technology ports and a private outdoor terrace. The lower level of the building consists of approximately 9,000sf of manufacturing space for the winery, including an automated bottling and labeling line, raw storage, case storage, fermentation tanks, a barrel room and the winemakers lab.
A wide crushed concrete path leads to the lower-level drive-in entrance. Perhaps the most spectacular feature of the winery is the large and bright ballroom, or great room, which is about 4,500sf and includes a large dance floor, private bar and a series of patio doors that lead out to a yet another private outdoor terrace with views of the vineyards. A well-appointed commercial kitchen easily meets all the guests’ needs.
Fulcrum Associates partnered with LaBelle and BMA Architectural Group of Amherst, for the development effort. Sanford Surveying and Engineering of Bedford provided the civil engineering and permitting for the site. Jeff Luter, Rob Fournier and Daryl Luter lead the team for Fulcrum along with Marcus Parkkonen and Rolf Biggers from BMA’s office.
LaBelle has been visualizing this new facility since first pursuing her passion for winemaking in her Boston apartment over a decade ago.Most recently she had been honing her winemaking skills in the barn behind their residence in Amherst, producing more than 6,000 cases of 22 wine varieties annually the demand became so great that two years ago the couple decided to expand their business and construct a new winery and function hall on the 11-acre site just West of the Bedford town line.
The development of the 11 acre site was done with tremendous sensitivity to the agrarian history and its continued use, the owner tells the story of how she could “smell” the soil when they were considering the site. Impervious parking was kept to a minimum and an area of grasscrete parking was created to manage the peak volumes. Beyond the beautiful landscape planting surrounding the terraces and building are the four vineyards with an extensive trellis system supporting 2,000 vines and five varieties of grapes. In about three years, they will produce a crop that can be used to make wine. Their own crops will provide about 15,000 pounds of grapes a year, which is enough to provide much of the company’s estate wines.