Wild Arc Farm

Checking All the Boxes

Quick Facts

Location: Pine Bush, Hudson Valley, New York

Owner & winemaker: Todd Cavallo & Crystal Cornish

Vineyard area: 1 acre estate-owned, 3 acres personally and contract-farmed + purchases of grapes

Management: regenerative organic on their own sites, organic to conventional on purchases

Main varietals: Marquette, Traminette and other hybrids; Cabernet Franc, Riesling

Annual production (approx.): 24,000 bottles (wine, Piquette, and cider combined)

 

 

Fun Facts:

  • Todd and Crystal are lifetime New Yorkers, having been born in central New York and spending most of their adult lives in Brooklyn. After finding the farmhouse of their dreams on a former perennial nursery in the upstate New York town of Pine Bush, they gradually shifted to a full-time farming mode.
  • The cool, wet climate of the area calls for resistant hybrid grapes like Traminette or Marquette and yields wines with distinct acidity
  • The word Farm plays a proud and important role in the winery’s name—they pursue a holistic regenerative approach, growing their own vegetables and fruits.
  • In addition to wine, Wild Arc also experiments with cider, beer, kombucha…
  • … and the skins left after pressing! Wild Arc has kicked off a whole new era for piquette, the traditional rural French practice of up-cycling the grape pomace.

 

Jump to wines | Wild Arc Farm Website

 

“Yeah, most of my wines are now not getting scoffed at tastings,” Todd Cavallo comments on his boutique production as we follow him from a small shed filled with tanks and barrels to a couple of newly planted rows of vine on his Hudson Valley property. What an understatement: Wild Arc’s stuff has become so popular that, unless you jump on a bottle with the characteristic minimalist white labels right when you see one, you’ll probably risk waiting until the next vintage. 

All this happened very quickly — the former Brooklyn IT specialist and his wife Crystal moved upstate in 2016 without any previous agricultural experience. A couple of years later, they’re growing their own fruit & veg in biodynamic permaculture, looking forward to the first vintages from their recently planted two acres of Cabernet Franc, Pinot, and Chardonnay, all while getting mad props for their current produce.

Their low-sulfur, often carbonic macerated wines offer a generously fruity character with lively acidity, definitely checking all the boxes of drinkability and current tastes. Being a small farm at the beginning of its journey, Wild Arc sources fruit from other people in the area: “Our hope is to establish relationships with growers and help them move towards organic production, which we feel is “greener” and more sustainable than continuing to replace the native habitat with more vineyard plantings. We are also sneaking codes onto all our labels now that delineate growing practices and sulfur usage, so the consumer can know exactly what the differences are in our bottlings,” Todd explains.

But the one thing that has created the buzz around Wild Arc Farm is not exactly wine: it’s Piquette. By adding his own touch to the centuries-old French practice of making a “second wine” for the vineyard workers from the already pressed skins, Todd has hit that soft spot that many of us have for drinks that are light on alcohol but strong in fun, fizz and freshness.

“Rather than a watered-down wine, it’s actually a boozed-up piquette,” Todd explains what has made his endeavor so different and successful. In his method, the skins (called pomace) are soaked in water for a couple of days, pressed, left to ferment, and then blended with some of their original wine. Bottled at about 7% ABV with some local honey that acts as a re-fermentation starter in the bottle, the resulting beverage bears the aromatic profile of the grape but in a lighter version, all accompanied by a pleasant sparkle and an exotic flavor-kick from the honey. It’s the wine cooler that’s actually cool, as the Piquettes’ own labels state. 

Given their instant success,zero-waste, and low-ABV appeal, it’s no wonder that Piquette has become ubiquitous over the last couple of years, with winemakers around the globe willing to put their own skins into the trend. As for the one who (re)started it all, he seems to have his eyes on new horizons again: be it arak, wine’s role in climate change, or PiWis, you can be sure that Todd Cavallo won’t be resting on his laurels. 

 

 Wines

 

FLX Petillant Naturel 2020 — Back to the top

Todd on this wine: “A fun new Pet Nat from the Fingerlakes area. A white blend of hybrid and vinifera grapes including the NY81 – the grape so good it hasn’t even gotten a name yet.”

Grapes: NY81, Aromella, Riesling

Vineyard: Folts Farm, FLX. Sustainable (no herbicide)

Making of: All varieties were vinified separately, with the Aromella and NY81 getting some skin contact. They were then aged in neutral French Oak barrels for 7 months before being blended and bottled under crown cap before they fully woke up and finished fermenting this Spring. Unfiltered and undisgorged, S02: 20ppm added at crush.

Personality: Ripe muscat and melon notes from the Aromella, an herbaceous backbone, and great acidity from the NY81 and Riesling.


FLX Cabernet Franc 2019 — Back to the top

Todd on this wine: A fun take on Finger Lakes Cab Franc aged for 18 months in puncheon. It took on some bright tropical notes on top of the usual cherry fruit and peppery finish of NY Cab Franc.”

Grapes: Cabernet Franc

Vineyard: At Last Farm, Finger Lakes. Sustainable (no herbicide)

Vinification: hand-harvested, 50% whole-cluster and 50% destemmed fruit macerated for 4 weeks with daily hand punch-downs. It was pressed directly to a neutral French Oak puncheon and aged for 18 months without racking or stirring before being racked to tank for bottling. SO2: 20ppm at crush.

Personality: Bright red raspberry and black cherry fruit with some tropical fruit interwoven with peppery and herbal undertones.


FLX Chardonnay 2019 — Back to the top

Todd on this wine: “Like the Cab Franc, we gave this one a little more time to do its thing in barrel, and we ended up with a beautifully expressive (and crystal clear) Chardonnay that we are loving right now.”

Vineyard: At Last Farm, Finger Lakes. Sustainable (no herbicide)

Making of: Destemmed directly into the press for some additional skin extraction. It was then pressed directly into neutral French Oak barrels and aged for 18 months without racking or stirring before being racked to tank for bottling. SO2: 20ppm at crush

Personality: Both oxidative and reductive, pineapple and green apple skin with a lactic roundness from the extended barrel aging and full malolactic fermentation.


Riesling barrel 1 — Back to the top

Vineyard: Nostrano Vineyards
Region: Hudson River Region
Farming: Conventional
ABV: 10.7%
SO2: Minimal

Vinification: The fruit was foot-tread and whole-cluster macerated for
48 hours with a 20ppm S02 dose. It was then pressed directly into
neutral oak barrels where the native fermentation completed fairly
rapidly. Slight reduction issues arose in barrel which were alleviated
by occasional stirring with a copper rod. Malolactic fermentation
began naturally in the Spring. Barrel 1 was bottled after 12 months in
barrel, a few months before barrel 2.

Notes: These are fairly atypical rieslings due to the elevage in
neutral oak and completed malolactic fermentation. Both bring a
roundness and fatness to the palate that belies the low alcohol. It’s
as if someone was able to make a 10.7% riesling in Alsace. Think key
lime pie with extra whipped cream followed by a glug of mineral water.


Checking all the Boxes Pet Nat — Back to the top

This Marquette/Traminette pet nat really does check all the boxes, the
most important of which is that is was grown without any herbicides,
pesticides, or synthetic fungicides, and it was vinified without any
added SO2.

Vineyard: Amorici Vineyards
Region: New York Capital Region (Outside of AVA)
Farming: Practicing Organic
ABV: 11.5%
S02: Zero

Vinification: 2 day carbonic maceration, then direct pressed into
tank. Native fermentation, bottled at .8 brix. Manually riddled by
driving upside down cases around in a golf cart. Disgorged by hand in
March 2019.

Notes: Summertime strawberry gin fizz garnished with tarragon.


Marquette 2020 — Back to the top

Todd on this wine: “The whole cluster version of our Marquette from the KFF (formerly Amorici) Vineyard. We have combined our two vinification styles from the past and settled on a partial carbonic (5-day) maceration combined with 2 weeks whole-cluster maceration.”

Grape: Marquette

Vineyard: KFF Vineyard, Washington County, NY (Outside of AVA). Practicing Organic

Making of: Carbonically macerated for 5 days, then whole-cluster macerated for 2 weeks with hand punch-downs daily. Pressed into a combination of neutral French oak barrels and one chestnut barrel for 10 months aging, no racking or stirring, bottled with a small 10ppm SO2 dose.

Notes: Bright red and blue fruit knit together with some spice and light herbal notes on the nose.


Sweetheart 2020 — Back to the top

Todd on this wine: “A fun experiment in blending apples and grapes. The 2020 edition is Northern Spy Cider again, but aged on a combination of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Gamay skins.” Named after one of Todd’s old bands that never played more than a couple of shows, which felt appropriate for this originally experimental endeavor.

Apples: Northern Spy from an IPM-farmed orchard in Ontario County, North Fork + pomace from Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Gamay

Making of: The cider was pressed directly into tanks containing spent red grape pomace that had already been pressed for wine and then soaked and pressed again for Piquette. After 4 weeks in tanks, we pressed the juice into neutral French oak barrels where it aged for 4 months. Bottled with local wildflower honey to referment in bottle. Unfined, unfiltered, zero SO2 added.

Personality: Like pink Hawaiian Punch: tart, refreshing, and tropical.


2018 Cab Franc Rosé — Back to the top

Vineyard production for the Cab Franc at Bruynswick Vineyard was down 85% for 2018, so the entire harvest went into these 20 cases of rosé. Obviously extremely limited.

Vinification: Half direct-pressed and half with 2 hours of whole-cluster maceration, we experimented with zero sulfur additions at crush this year. Fermentation finished quickly but malolactic fermentation started showing some signs of trouble this Spring so we hit it with a small 20ppm SO2 dose prior to bottling.

Notes: An intoxicating combination of bright red and tropical fruits and dusty minerality. Raised in stainless steel but with full natural malolactic fermentation for roundness and body.


Piquette! Cans — Back to the top

Piquette has become quite a phenomenon recently, with many wineries bottling something similar, often using the name Piquette on the label, but Todd should really be credited with bringing this French tradition back into the spotlight. Originally, Piquette was something wineries would serve to their harvest workers. Something pleasant they could drink that wasn’t so high in alcohol they wouldn’t be able to work hard in the vines. The basic concept–to use the cast-offs from winemaking including the leftover must, stems, and seeds–is wonderfully zero-waste, and Todd’s version is zhuzhed up with a bit of the original wine and some local honey for a fine sparkle. 

Depending on release, the Wild Arc piquettes are sold in bottles or cans, offering a more compact, transportable, and environmentally friendly container. 

Making of: The pomace is soaked in water and ferments to a low alcohol fizzy beverage thanks to the addition of something sweet (local honey in Todd’s case). Blended with a bit of wine to reach 7% ABV. No additional SO2 additions beyond what was residual in the must.

Personality: always delicious and refreshing! The Rosato is a raspberry soda on the first day of summer, the Skin Contact version is a sparkling zesty lemonade beside a bonfire on a hot summer night.


Piquette! Bottles – Current release – Fall 2021 — Back to the top

Vinification: Standard Piquette 50% water addition to pomace after pressing. SO2: Zero Added

Cabernet Franc Piquette 2020
“Always our favorite varietal red piquette, with tons of bright cherry and raspberry fruit and a touch of grassy greenness to keep things interesting.”

Vineyard: Folts Farm, Finger Lakes
Farming: Sustainable
Notes: Red fruit, exceptionally light on its feet.

Gamay Piquette 2020

“Our first vintage working with Gamay! The piquette was one of our new favorites so we kept it out of the blends for another varietal bottling perfect for Fall.”

Vineyard: Whitecliff, Hudson River Region
Farming: Conventional
Notes: Slightly reductive red and blue fruit, French tarragon, light finish.

Traminette Piquette 2020
“One of our first varietal piquettes, and we keep making it because of the delicious lychee and elderflower flavors it produces every year.”
Vineyard: Folts Farm, Finger Lakes
Farming: Sustainable
Notes: Elderflower lemonade with lychee syrup.


Bi-Sekt — Back to the top

We’ve been sitting on this one for a bit, letting it get some time in bottle to develop. It is our take on the German Sekt style, for which we’ve blended Riesling and Traminette and sparkled it up with a tirage of local wildflower honey.

Vineyard: Folts Farm / Bruynswick Vineyard
Region: New York State
Farming: Sustainable / In Transition
S02: 20ppm at Crush

Vinification: Both wines were barrel fermented to dryness with 20ppm SO2 added at crush, then 75% Riesling and 25% Traminette were blended in a tank with 12g/L of wildflower honey and bottled under crown cap. Unfiltered and undisgorged.


Amorici Field Blend Rosé — Back to the top

Todd on this wine: “We’ve been working with the beautiful fruit from this vineyard, now moved to fully organic practices, since a couple of vintages now. In 2020, the bulk of the white grapes in this field blend suffered from low yields due to late frosts and bird damage, so the wine is decidedly darker in color, but still as bright and beautiful as ever. More importantly, this wine is our first trial bottling to use Reusable/Returnable glass bottles from thegoodgoods.co! Details on return logistics and deposits via QR code / their website.”

Grapes: a dozen red, white, and pink hybrid varieties grown together

Vineyard: Amorici Vineyard, Washington County, NY. Practicing Organic

Making of: The grapes were all harvested together, and the fruit was carbonically macerated for 2 days, then foot-tread and macerated for 2 additional days before being pressed off to stainless tank. Unfined, unfiltered, zero SO2 added.

Personality: The foxiness or “grapeyness” of hybrid grapes disappears in this blend into a candied fruit character that puts this wine squarely in the Glou Glou camp, with tart strawberry, cranberry, and cherry all poking through on the nose, and a similar red-fruit salad across the broad but focused palate. 


Hudson River Region Chardonnay — Back to the top


Our 2017 Chardonnay was the sleeper hit of the vintage, and the few remaining bottles are showing better and better. Don’t sleep on this one, Jura meets NY as oxidative and reductive tendencies meet, and fruit and mineral notes clash to make a Chardonnay that is a joy to drink.

Vineyard: Bruynswick Vineyard
Region: Hudson River Region
Farming: Sustainable
S02: 20ppm at Crush

Vinification: Half was whole-cluster macerated for 48 hours and half was direct pressed, all into neutral French oak barrels. No racking or stirring. Bottled without any additional Sulfur.

Notes: Peach, apricot, and a whisper of tropicalia with some wet stone backing up the nose. Broad and mouth-filling with some richness and texture, but still an acid streak to make you want another sip immediately.

 


Cider! — Back to the top

Todd on this bev: “We have a number of Callery Pear trees on our farm and have always wanted to do something with the tiny, tart, tannin-packed fruits.”

Fruit: Northern Spy from an IPM-farmed orchard in Ontario County, North Fork + Callery Pears from Todd’s own farm

Making of: a couple of buckets of pears were macerated in the cider, then racked into neutral French oak 500L puncheons and left undisturbed for 6 months before canning.

Personality: bright and fruity cider flavors mingled with a deeper spicy oomph of the pears.

 


Dabinett / Greening Cider! — Back to the top

Todd on this bev: “Our second vintage working with this blend. From the same source as our Northern Spy cider, this blend of Dabinett and Rhode Island Greening apples has a bit more texture and some of the richness that comes from the bittersweet Dabinett. Lightly carbonated by can conditioning with local wildflower honey, this one is perfect for the Fall table.”

Orchard: Ontario Orchards, New York State, IPM-farmed 

Making of: The apples were pressed and blended before being racked to 3 neutral
French Oak and 1 Chestnut barrel, where it sat undisturbed for 10 months until being
racked and blended with local wildflower honey for canning. SO2: 20ppm at press

Personality: White flowers, stone fruits, and a touch of butterscotch.

 


Riesling CDC 2020 — Back to the top

Todd on this wine: “Our first time working with fruit from this small vineyard on Cayuga Lake farmed organically by Joe Sepe. The small “Clos de Cochon” was a former pig pasture and manure dumping ground that sat fallow for years before eventually being planted to Riesling, all Geisenheim Clone 239.”

Grape: Riesling
Vineyard: Clos de Cochon, Cayuga Lake, Practicing Organic

Making of: Whole-cluster macerated for 24 hours. Pressed into Neutral French oak puncheon, not fined, filtered, or racked. SO2: 20ppm at crush, 15ppm at bottling

Notes: “The most exciting and expressive Riesling we have made. Bright stone fruit and lemon curd, slightly softened acid from full malolactic fermentation,” Todd says.


Luca 2020 Skin-contact — Back to the top

Todd on this wine: ” Not quite orange but leaning in that direction. A week of skin contact brings out the floral and lychee notes.”

Grape: Traminette

Vineyard: Folts Farm, Finger Lakes. Sustainable

Vinification: Whole cluster foot-tread and macerated for one week with daily hand punch-downs. Pressed directly into 1 older French oak puncheon and 1 stainless tank. SO2: 20ppm at Crush

Notes: Lychee, white flowers, and citrus peel.


Blackbird 2020 — Back to the top

Todd on this wine: “An evolution of our Noiret coferment from 2019, this year with equal amounts of Riesling and Noiret. Still a fun experiment in tempering the peppery notes of Noiret with some white grapes.”

Reusable/Returnable glass bottles from thegoodgoods.co. Details on return logistics and deposits via QR code / the website.

Grapes: 50% Riesling, 50% Noiret (American red hybrid developed by Cornell University) 

Vineyard: Folts Farm, Finger Lakes. Sustainable

Vinification: Whole cluster Noiret was foot tread, then Riesling was crushed and destemmed on top and maceration continued for 2 additional weeks. Pressed directly into neutral French oak barrels. SO2: 20ppm at crush

Notes: Bright red cherry fruit with some tropical notes, white and black pepper, and well-integrated acidity.


Gamay 2020 — Back to the top

Todd on this wine: “Our first time working with Gamay! We were lucky enough to get some of the only fruit planted in the Hudson River Region.”

Reusable/Returnable glass bottles from thegoodgoods.co. Details on return logistics and deposits via QR code / the website.

Grape: Gamay

Vineyard: Whitecliff, Hudson River Region. Conventional farming

Vinification: 1 Week Carbonic maceration followed by foot-treading and 2 weeks of whole cluster maceration. Pressed into a neutral 500L French oak puncheon. SO2: 20ppm at crush

Notes: Candied cherries, dusty granite, herbs and iron on the finish.


White Vermouth — Back to the top

Todd on this Vermouth: “We made white vermouth from our wines in 2019, using botanicals grown here on the farm – great neat, over ice, or in your favorite cocktails.”

Ingredients: Riesling and Traminette wines (grapes grown Upstate NY) and medicinal herbs and flowers grown by Todd and Crystal on the Wild Arc farm

Making of: The botanicals were extracted into the grape spirit (a distillate of Wild Arc’s Merlot 2019) which was then used to fortify the base wines. The blend aged all together in a stainless tank for over a year.

Personality: starts with floral and grassy notes of the base wines, with spicy, aromatic botanical undertones. 17% ABV, 375ml