Brock Oenology and Viticulture (OEVI) students let their creativity flow this term.
As part of their wine processing and equipment course through the Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI), the future winemakers, divided into two groups, took on the challenge of developing their own fictional winery brands, complete with distinct styles of wine.
Their work culminated in a bottling session last week, where they were able to see the final product resulting from their months of work.
Throughout the term, each group developed a winemaking strategy and collaborated on the winemaking process from fermentation to bottling. The project gave them hands-on experience with grape and wine processing equipment, including crushers, presses, filters, pumps and tanks.
The teams brought their brands to life by developing marketing strategies, designing labels and selecting the perfect bottles and closures.
Throughout the project the students had access to the winemaking tools and resources available at CCOVI and met weekly during their labs to discuss their progress with Instructor Marc Pistor (BSc ’06) and Senior Lab Demonstrator Jennifer Kelly (PhD ’19). Pistor, an OEVI graduate and commercial winemaker, also provided direction based on tastings throughout the winemaking process.
“For these wines, students are given the opportunity to be creative. They face and overcome challenges and they learn important teamwork skills,” said Pistor. “I also learn a lot from their questions and their innovative thought and approach; it really keeps me on my toes. It is always a rewarding and exciting project.”
Colin Lounsbury of the It Stands to Riesling group said their winery focused on making wine from white varietals.
“We made two wines, one a 100 per cent Riesling and the other a blend with Vidal to create a lighter, patio wine,” he said. “The Riesling was done with traditional processes, whereas the patio wine was done with a ‘hot’ ferment to try to encourage a different flavour profile.”
Daniel Phillipow of the Whitetail Estate Winery group said they chose to brand their winery as a rustic, high-end boutique winery that would be found where a vineyard and a forest meet.
“One of the wines we made throughout the semester was a Cabernet Sauvignon/Pinot Gris rosé, which was destined to be fruit forward and dry, with heavy red hue. The other wine was a high quality, oak-aged Gamay with a higher alcohol content to attempt to make it into a full bodied, fruit forward, expressive wine,” he said. “We were very happy with how our wines have turned out and left the course with many new techniques and a deeper knowledge of the winemaking process.”
Kelly said the project will benefit the students greatly as they move forward in their careers.
“The exercise provided hands-on experience with each step of the winemaking process and taught the students how to work as a winemaking team, how to set a goal and use the tools and resources available to them to achieve it,” she said. “It gave them the chance to make decisions around the juice they received, very much like how a commercial winemaker would operate. The grapes come in and you do what you can to make a wine as closely aligned with your goal as possible.”
Students were able to talk about their wines objectively, Kelly said, even though they were invested in them, and they worked together to get to the end goal: wine in a bottle.