A cup of fizz
Winery to offer sparkling wine in trial run
November 7, 2013
with its rhubarb and strawberry notes, is the most popular wine made and sold at the
Santa Maria Vineyard & Winery.
The vineyard, which offers a variety of wines, plans to try branching out into sparkling wines in the next few months.
With blackberry, apple, cherry and rhubarb wines - not to mention all of the grape varieties - Carroll's Santa Maria Vineyard & Winery caters to all sorts of taste buds. But for those who like their wine to fizz a little when it hits their tongue, spring will be a happy time at the winery.
Santa Maria will officially launch a trial run of sparkling wine at its customer appreciation dinner in March or April, although it will likely begin selling the wine before that, co-owner John Guinan said.
Guinan compared Iowa's grapes to those grown in the Champagne region of France and in Germany, where sweeter Riesling wines are made
"Iowa wines are typically more sweet," he said. "Over the long run, Iowa will become known for its sparkling wine."
Santa Maria makes all of its wine in-house, but sparkling wine requires a whole separate set of equipment. For that reason, before Guinan invests in all-new gear, he's going to give the sparkling wine a test run by having the first batch made at L. Mawby Vineyards in Michigan, using Santa Maria wine.
"They're renowned for making high-quality sparkling wine from Midwestern grapes," Guinan said.
L. Mawby's website states that it is one of the few producers in North America that focus solely on sparkling wine.
Santa Maria will send 1,000 gallons of its wine: 500 of Frontenac Gris - "a beautiful rosé wine," Guinan said - and 500 of a type he is keeping secret for now. The Michigan company will process the wine into sparkling wine and send it back. Each 500-gallon batch will make 200 cases of wine.
He said this would be the first large production of sparkling wine in Iowa.
"We've talked to retailers, and retailers are very interested in having an Iowa-produced sparkling wine, just like they're very into having Iowa-produced whiskeys," he said. It's something that hasn't been produced yet here in Iowa. That's one of the things we want to take advantage of."
The winery currently offers more than 20 varieties of wine. They're produced in 10 fermentation tanks, with capacities ranging from 500 to 1,500 gallons, that are temperature-controlled to support the higher temperatures needed to make red wines and the lower temperatures needed for white wines, said Sean Drumheller, Santa Maria's winemaker. The wine is aged in oak barrels in the winery's basement.
But making sparkling wine means adding all new equipment.
"It takes a lot of investment, so we want to do a test run," he said.
Santa Maria uses Iowa grapes for a portion of its wines, especially the sweeter varieties. The drier wines, such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, are made with grapes from California. The origin of Santa Maria's fruit wines varies as well, with Bing cherries from California and rhubarb from Carroll.
Right now, the winery's best-selling wine is the Rhuby Dooby, a fruit wine. Santa Maria's website describes it as "sweet and full of delicious rhubarb and strawberry notes that won't make you pucker."
But Guinan hopes sparkling wines will soon be a must-have for customers as well.
"We want to bring the equipment ourselves, but before we invest the $100,000 or more it's going to take, or multiples of that, we want to make sure there's a market for it," Guinan said.
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