A Look Back at The Cary Company's Winemaking Classes

The Cary Company wine class participants from class 1 The Cary Company wine class participants from class 1. (From left to right: Michelle Coppedge, Dawn Dresden, Jenna Gasbarre, Sam Toman, Sheena Patel, Luke Tecson, Katie Ewing, Nicole Cosentino, Alessandra Scalzo, Heather Lucenti, Anna Wians)

Happy National Wine Day! To help celebrate, we would like to take a look back at The Cary Company’s sponsored winemaking classes that occurred earlier this past winter. In these classes, our employees got a hand at making their own wine using the new winemaking supplies that the Cary Company now carries. The classes took place over a month long period after work beginning in February and ending in March. Class participants took part in the entire process, from the initial mixing of ingredients to fermentation to bottling. Not only did employees get a chance to learn how they can make wine at home, they also got the opportunity to get to know one another a bit better. At the start of each class was social time during which class participants took the time to socialize over some delicious wine and snacks.

How the Winemaking Classes Came to Be

The class was taught by The Cary Company’s purchasing coordinator Michelle Coppedge and marketing manager Brent Copstead. The conception of this class came with the introduction of winemaking supplies, such as the RJS wine recipe kits in The Cary Company’s inventory and the creation of the Culture Committee. “We started selling winemaking kits. Brent makes it already and I’ve always been interested, and we had the Culture Committee needing ideas for classes so between all of that we decided to host a class.” says Michelle. The culture committee was created this past year in order to help improve company culture here at The Cary Company. This entails organizing events such as yoga classes, group activities during company meetings, and after work instructional classes such as this one. This class was the first instructional class that was organized by the committee.

Cary employees are all smiles while mixing the ingredients! Cary employees are all smiles while mixing the ingredients! (From left to right-Sam Toman, Alessandra Scalzo, Luke Tecson, Heather Lucenti, and Nicole Cosentino)

The Winemaking Classes

The winemaking classes were divided into three classes that each covered a different step in the wine making process. The first class involved the primary fermentation, which included mixing the ingredients for the wine together using the RJS’s Grand Cru wine recipe kits for Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc. The mixtures were mixed together in primary fermenting buckets. After the ingredients were put together, bentonite, which is used to clarify the wine, was added to the mixtures. Finally yeast was added in order to turn sugar into alcohol and the mixtures then sat for two weeks to ferment. Our winemakers found the RJS mixing kits were easy to use and understand, but it helped to have an experienced wine brewer there to lead the way. “Brent helped immensely with his experience” said Michelle.

Transfer the wine to glass carboys during the second wine class Brent Copstead (top) and Luke Tecson transfer the wine to glass carboys during the second wine class.

The second class involved the stabilizing and clearing process. To stabilize the wine, our winemakers added sulphite and potassium sorbate to the mixture. In the stabilization stage, the sulphite and potassium sorbate stop the active fermentation of the yeast. The next step was to clarify the wine, during which kieselsol and then chitosan was added to the mixture. This made sure that the wine would be clear of any sediments when it was time to bottle the wine. The participants then filtered the wine into glass carboys where it sat to age for another two weeks. The third class involved finally bottling the wine with our own wine bottles. During this class, participants also had fun learning how to use a Portuguese double lever corker to cork the bottles. The wine was then left to sit in order to age before it is served at future company events this summer.

A Bonding Experience

The wine class was a great way for Cary employees to get to know one another. Class participants reported that after the classes, they felt much closer to their fellow employees. "It was fun to learn something new together." says quality assurance coordinator Anna Wians. One major part that helped was the serving of wine with cheese and crackers at the beginning of each of these classes. “My favorite part (of the class) was getting to eat and drink and bond with co-workers.” says Samantha Toman, customer relations specialist.

Cary employees bonded over delicious snacks Cary employees bonded over delicious snacks and wine, which were served during the first part of every class.

As for which wine everyone is most excited to try, the Merlot is a clear favorite. “We put oak chips in it for taste; I want to see if we can notice it!” reported Alessandra Scalzo, customer relations specialist. For Michelle, the fun is all in the art of wine making, “Knowing the outcome is exciting.” As for future classes like this one, class participants are interested in more opportunities to learn new skills. "I would do cooking, beer making, baking…anything new to learn really!" says customer relations specialist Heather Lucenti. With how successful this class went, it wouldn’t be a surprise if new classes are on the horizon. In the meantime, we can't wait to try the Cary Company's very own wine this summer!