April 24, 2011

StoneBrook Winery


StoneBrook Winery is located in Camp Springs, KY, just south of Cincinnati in Campbell County.  They have been making wine for 6 years and growing and selling grapes for 11.  Wine tastings are offered Fridays from 5pm-9pm and Saturday and Sunday from 1pm-6pm in their tasting room; which was the first in Northern Kentucky and is located in Walter farm's original farmhouse that has been restored and transformed into a dining and tasting venue.


Walter Farmhouse
The cost of a tasting is $5 and allows you try as many of their 19 varieties of wine as you would like.  In addition to red and white grape wines, StoneBrook offers an array of fruit and berry wines. 

Tasting counter
StoneBrook also offers a weekly dinner on Saturday evenings which includes grilled meats, side dishes, salad, wine and live music in the summer.  I'm looking forward to going back this summer to partake in dinner and music; you can visit their website for more details and their Facebook page provides event updates.  In addition to the Camp Springs tasting room they also offer weekly tastings at the Newport on the Levee art gallery.

Dining area
After trying about 10 varieties of wine I chose a bottle of the Chardonelle; a chardonnay-style white wine.  Cranberry wine was the runner up.  Some of the others in my group enjoyed the Blueberry, Honeymead, Strawberry and Chambourcin.  Really, there is something for everyone and with such a variety to choose from it is difficult to pick a favorite. 
My bottle of Chardonelle
Dennis, one of the owners, was gracious enough to give us a tour of their production facility before our tasting.

First, the grapes are picked and transported from each of the three vineyards in 5-gallon buckets to be processed through a crusher/destemmer machine  And in case you're wondering, they do not use their feet to crush the grapes.  In fact, we learned the acid in the grapes can burn your skin.

Crusher/Destemmer
After the grapes are crushed and destemmed they go into the juicer.  Once all the liquid is removed from the grapes their skins are completely dry and used as fertilizer for the vineyards.

Juicer

StoneBrook uses cold fermentation and large cauldrons of the grape juice are put in a refrigerator at low temperatures.  The cold fermentation process helps pronounce the fruit notes in the final product and keeps the yeast from taking over the flavor of the wine.  Dennis taught us there are thousands of strands of yeast and you choose your strand depending on how you want your wine to taste.

After fermentation the wine goes to the lab to be tested for its alcohol volume.  It also goes through a taste test during this phase.

The lab
After the lab the wine gets filtered for sediment.  The sediment does not change the taste of the wine but it is a presentation thing.  It is a preference of most American wine drinkers to have a very clear wine; as opposed to France or other places in Europe where you will always find particles settled at the bottom of a bottle of wine.

Filtration system
The wine is then siphoned into the bottles from the large holding containers.  Pumping could allow too much oxygen to enter the bottles and result in a "corked" bottle of wine. 
Bottling area
After the bottles are filled, an automatic corker works like a hydraulic press to insert corks. The only thing left to do after this is wrap the top and put on a label.

Corker
StoneBrook produces about 6,000 cases of wine a year and distributes to most local liquor and wine stores.  They also sell directly to customers from their production facility and tasting room.

A big thanks to all the friendly people at StoneBrook, especially Dennis for taking time out of his busy day to show us the intricacies of the wine-making process.

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