From the grape to the glass: Jacquelyn Groeper, owner of the newly opened Artis Winery in Pembroke, discusses the art and science of winemaking.By Maria Allen | Photography by Jack Foley
What inspired you to want to become a winemaker?
My interest in wine began when I was living in Spain, where wine is an integral part of meals and the culture. I quickly fell in love with the food and the various wines the country has to offer, especially Rioja. When I returned home I became an avid cook and incorporated wine with my meals. I realized that I wanted to learn more about the different grape varieties and wine regions around the world. Being an alum of Boston University, I was aware of the Culinary Arts/Gastronomy Program that Julia Child co-founded. I enrolled in the Wine Studies Program. I was fascinated by the disciplines associated with wine – history, politics, geology, agriculture and science. The program then offered a winemaking class. I decided to enroll because now that I had an understanding of the various aspects of wine I wanted to know how it is made. I loved everything about the class and winemaking.
What types of wine do you make at Artis Winery and what makes them unique?
Our focus is on handcrafting wines from vitis vinifera grapes such as Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Cabernet Sauvignon. We offer wines that range from light and refreshing whites to well structured, full bodied reds. As a winery without a vineyard, we have flexibility to work closely with growers locally and on the West Coast to select different grape varieties each vintage. Some of the varietals chosen are inspired by our travels to various wine regions around the world. For example, our Red Blend of Tempranillo and Garnacha (Grenache) was crafted in honor of time living and traveling in Spain. The wine is made from the same varietals used to produce exquisite Rioja wines for centuries. The grapes were carefully selected from vineyards in California and we used a specific yeast isolated from wineries in Spain. As was tradition, we aged the wine in American Oak for 15 months. We create wines that are an expression of the grape variety and a reflection of the terroir, with innovations we learned from our travels.
Where are your grapes sourced from?
It was important to us to incorporate locally grown fruit. Currently, we are sourcing grapes from Rhode Island, New York, and California. Locally grown grapes used to make our white wines have been from Greenvale Vineyards in Rhode Island and the North Fork of Long Island. Grapes for our red wines have predominantly been from various AVAs in California, such as Paso Robles, Lodi, and Suisun Valley. As we grow our business we will continue to explore other sourcing opportunities locally, on the West Coast and internationally.
How did you go about learning to make wine?
I initially learned how to make wine at Boston University. I continued my formal education in enology by taking seminar classes at University of California, Davis, and graduated from the intensive two-year Washington State University Enology Certificate Program. It is so nice to come full circle and now co-teach the Boston University Winemaking Class. Some students who have completed the class are making wine at home or at the winery while others have enrolled in enology programs. I love what I am doing and excited to give back.
What do you enjoy most about winemaking?
I love all aspects of winemaking. For me, making quality wine begins in the vineyard. I enjoy walking the vineyards and speaking with growers about the growing season, viticultural practices, the soil, and the elevation of the vines. All are important factors to ensure we are sourcing quality fruit. In the winery, the decisions made will determine the quality and style of wine. Choices such as do we age our wine in oak barrels or stainless steel, do we use natural yeast or inoculate with commercial yeast, how long should we age our wine, should our whites complete secondary fermentation or not. These determinations are made based on the grape varieties selected, the taste and aromas of the grapes, must, and wine, and testing/analyzing various chemical components. It is fascinating to follow the wines through the aging process to see how they change and develop over time. There is an art and a science to winemaking.
When will the new tasting room be open and what will it offer visitors?
The tasting room will be open on June 30th. The hours will vary by season. We will offer tastings of our wine and tours of our winery to give visitors insight into the winemaking process. In addition, we anticipate offering classes as well as special events throughout the year.
Where can SSL readers pick up a bottle of your wine?