Winemaking Class at Vint Hill Craft Winery and a Touch of Chemistry

winemakingclass1Kathy and I attended our first winemaking class at Vint Hill Craft Winery presented by winemaker, DJ Leffin. DJ has an easy going manner and blended well with the more than twenty participants. Using a PowerPoint presentation, DJ gave a crash course on the vineyard and the winemaking process. At times, we left the teaching area to view the equipment. “Nothing is so important that it has to be done right now,” commented DJ as he discussed the importance of safety while in the winery. The content for the first class was much of the same content I wrote for two learning modules on the Wine Trail Traveler site:

The Vineyard is a short fourteen-slide module about growing grapes.
Winemaking is a module that describes the winemaking process for red and white wines.

chemistry1After the class, many of the participants headed to the tasting room to taste wines. Kathy and I headed to the lab to test the sulfite (sulphite) levels in a mead I am ready to bottle. My question was whether I should add sulfite to the mead. The testing process quickly reminded me of high school chemistry class. Yes, I can still remember that class even though I took it decades ago. DJ spoke of the importance of exact measurement and noted that the graduated beakers were not accurate. Using a 10 ml pipette, I transferred 50 ml to a beaker. Sure enough, it was different than the mark on the glass. Next DJ added some solution and powder than placed the beaker under probes from a machine. The sulfite levels were over 150 ppm. Chris Pearmund, partner and executive winemaker at Vint Hill Craft Winery stopped by and stated that most people who make meads do not add sulfites before bottling. So I’ll bottle without adding sulfites.

chemistry2It was an interesting day. The chemistry in a wine lab is much more interesting than the chemistry in a high school lab.

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