One of Brock University’s first graduates of the Oenology and Viticulture program (OEVI) was back in the classroom recently to help current students with their winemaking projects.
Shiraz Mottiar (BSc ’00), winemaker at Malivoire Wine Company, has more than 20 years of industry experience and spent an afternoon at Brock’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI) guiding the next generation of winemakers. He tasted wines made by students and listened to their formal presentations.
The students were asked to change one element of the winemaking process and evaluate the impact it had chemically on the final wines.
“This is all applicable in real life and every decision made will have a direct impact on the quality of the wine down the road,” Mottiar said.
The students worked in small groups, each making two wines using different styles and techniques. They pressed the grapes in the teaching winery during harvest, fermented the juice and monitored their wines, collecting all the scientific data.
“You can see there’s a lot of thought that goes into each project, through their presentations with scientific method and full results,” said Mottiar. “But there is also some really nice conversation happening around the decisions they made, and I think it is very indicative of how the industry works in general. We are always trying to share ideas to improve, and if it starts in the classroom, it will last a lifetime.”
Katrina Pukitis’ group made a Sussreserve — a German style, semi-sweet wine. They kept a portion of the unfermented grape juice separate and added it to the fermented juice, leading to a sweeter, lower alcohol wine.
“This is a great experience to learn and figure out what works best so that when we do enter the industry, we are much better equipped,” Pukitis said. “We have talked so much amongst ourselves about this project, but getting an outside perspective is great. It was really rewarding to have him taste what we made.”
CCOVI Senior Lab Instructor Steven Trussler stressed the value for students to have someone from the grape and wine industry come in to provide some context to the work they are doing in class.
“When approaching winemaking from a scientific perspective, as we do in the Oenology and Viticulture program at Brock, it’s important for our students to see how that scientific approach will be useful and directly applicable when they enter the grape and wine industry.”
This group of students will be making wine again during the winter semester with the opportunity to bottle and brand them.