Wine 101 at Wine & Whey

Photo Credit: Cortney Logan

Photo Credit: Cortney Logan

When I imagine wine making, I always picture Lucile Ball dancing/stomping around a vat of grapes. Once upon a time, this was how wine was made. Winemakers used this method because the balls of the feet would not squish the grapes completely. Nowadays, it’s rare to find winemakers who crush grapes with their feet, but you at Wine & Whey, you can still get an authentic wine making experience, turning grapes into your own wine.

Located in RiNo, Wine & Whey is your one-stop shop for all things wine and cheese making with instruction, supplies and events. Started by two couples, this little shop of amazingness has something for everyone.

Wine & Whey has a variety of classes to choose from. If you are like me, as in my wine knowledge involves drinking lots of different wines, you can choose the “Beginner Wine Class.” Basically, there are five steps to making wine:

1. Harvesting and destemming
2. Crushing
3. Fermentation
4. Bottling
5. Drinking (I added this one in)

The beginner class begins by drinking some wine and discussing, as a group, the type of wine you want to create. Red. White. Sparkling. Next you smash up some grapes, not using your feet. The beginner wine kits are pretty simple and come with a grape concentrate, whereas the advanced kits come with grape skins and juice.

Photo Credit: Cortney Logan

Photo Credit: Cortney Logan

Wine fermentation takes about two months. During this time period, “winemakers” are invited back to check in on their wines. Then it is time for bottling. Then you have to wait a little bit more.

A young wine ages for about three months in the bottle, where as a more mature wine will need a minimum of six. At Wine & Whey each “winemaker” will leave with three bottles, when it is all said and done.

Wine grapes are different from the traditional grapes you will find at the grocery store. Wine grapes have a higher amount of sugar and a balanced pH. Soil minerals and acidity, time of harvest and pruning methods all have an affect on the grape quality.

Roughly 100 pounds of grapes will equal six gallons of wine. The grape harvest takes place in late August to early September. In celebration of the harvest season, Wine & Whey will be hosting their annual Colorado Custom Crush in mid-September.

What is the Colorado Custom Crush? “The Colorado Custom Crush is our way to bring the winery experience to you,” said Katrina, co- owner of Wine & Whey. The RiNo shop will lead you through the adventure of making wine from freshly harvested California grapes – 8,000 pounds of grapes to be exact.

Crush Map

Crush Map

The Wine & Whey crew will take care of the majority of the legwork for you. They have already sourced the grapes and set up the transportation and equipment. All aspiring winemakers need to do is show up at the shop prepared to get dirty and learn about the winemaking process.

Now for the really important question: How much wine do you get to take home with you? Wine & Whey will be dividing the grapes into 100 pound lots. Each lot makes about 5.5 to 6 gallons of wine or 28 (750 mL) bottles.

For this harvest, the Colorado Custom Crush will be focusing purely on reds. Zinfandel, Petite Sirah and Cabernet Sauvignon will be among your grape selection. The goal is to make a smooth, berry rich red blend that will glide across your plate.

The Colorado Custom Crush sounds like a great way to spend an afternoon.

About Alexandra Weissner

Alex loves craft beer, whiskey and brunch. She has a weakness for Champagne and Prosecco. She also likes to run a lot.