NMSU Offers Wine Making Class And Workshop

Aug 22, 2013

We are traveling through a vineyard in a golf cart with New Mexico State University Viticulture specialist, Bern Maier who is making one of his many trips out to check on the grapes that are almost ready to be harvested.

Low humidity and birds can do much damage to the grapes, so the vineyard requires much attention. After inspecting and tasting some of the grapes Maier knows that within a week harvest will begin, just in time for the start of a wine making course offered by the university.

Students will have the opportunity to learn about the industry beginning from the grape to putting together a small business plan.

“We will talk about what it takes to really run a winery. What it takes as far as investment costs and marketing plan,” said Maier.

After harvesting the grapes, students will learn about the post-harvest process of making wine that begins in this fermentation lab.

(Pointing to jugs of fermenting wine)

“In this case we are looking at a Sauvignon Blanc and it almost clears after the fermentation,” says Maier.

Maier himself comes from a family that for generations has grown wine in Germany. He arrived in New Mexico in 1983 to help grow grapes and set up vineyards around the state, and he hopes to share his knowledge and experience to eager learners.

“We fill the class up just about every year. We will try to not enroll more than twenty-five people. Twenty-five gives us the opportunity to do lab work in two groups, twelve to thirteen each, and it also gives the student the opportunity to get hands on work,” says Maier.

The class will take some field trips to local wineries. However, most of the work will be done in the field preparing the product, and of course at the end of the semester students may even have some time for product evaluation.