Where there’s wine, there’s truth | VailDaily.com

Where there’s wine, there’s truth

Cassie Pence
Preston Utley/putley@vaildaily.com Guests at the Harvest Party Saturday, Sept. 11, can sample wine that was stomped at last year's soiree. Catnip Chardonnay, Dog House Cabernet Sauvignon, Leftbank Meritage Rightbank meritage and Puss 'n' Boots are among the wines ready for tasting.

WOLCOTT – The man behind the winemaking for the Harvest Party is Patrick Chirichillo of Churchill Wine Cellars at 4-Eagle Ranch in Wolcott.Churchill Wine Cellars is an amateur winemaking facility. Chirichillo has all the supplies and equipment to make wine, and he teaches groups’ the process from start to finish. He orders the grapes from Central Valley California.After the grapes are stomped at the Harvest Party, workers from Beaver Liquors and the Humane Society will continue the process with Chirichillo in Wolcott.

First you crush and de-stem the grapes, Chirichillo said. He uses a machine that breaks the grapes open and takes the stems out, and the grapes fall into a vat. “Then, we let them sit in the vat for a week while they ferment. Fermentation is when the sugar turns into alcohol, the yeast will eat up the sugar and turn it into wine. We add yeast to make sure it does it on its own,” Chirichillo said.Next, you take the skins and the juice and run it through a “bladder press” unit its liquid.

“Ninety-five percent of all the crush becomes wine. There is only a 5 percent waste factor which is skins, seeds and stems,” Chirichillo said.Chirichillo takes the liquid and pours it into oak barrels to sit for about one year. The group will come back and bottle it right there in the cellar. You can even create labels for your homemade vino.”The whole process only takes an hour each visit. Out of the three times you visit, it takes an hour to crush, an hour to squeeze and an hour to bottle,” Chirichillo said.

Groups make a party of it, bringing friends, family, wine and food. The experiences averages about $10 a bottle with a minimum order of 72 bottles.”It’s a great tradition that I have learned and always want to keep going,” Chirichillo said.For more information on Churchill Cellars, call 471-0420.Vail Colorado

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