The enology and viticulture program at UCC was born in 2008 with viticulture classes taught in local vineyards. Winemaking at the college began in 2010 after the college received TTB licensure. The UCC Foundation and former UCC president Blaine Nisson spearheaded an aggressive fundraising campaign to build a permanent campus home for SOWI, and, in 2012, the SOWI offices and winery moved from their temporary location to the newly completed Danny Lang Teaching, Learning, and Event Center. The winery in the Lang Center was conceived as a state-of-the-art wine production and teaching facility, with energy-saving design and built-in safety features.
Teaching Winery and Winery Incubator Concept
The winery was designed for a production capacity of 3,000 cases per year. As part of their coursework, students participate in making wines for the college’s SOWI Cellars label, which produces about 250-500 cases annually. The remaining production capacity is slated for use as a winery incubator. Winery entrepreneurs who complete the UCC V&E degree program, develop their own business plan, and receive TTB and OLCC licensure can utilize the equipment and production space as an alternating proprietor. These entrepreneurs can build their brand without the significant capital expenditures for equipment and building space. SOWI has received funding from both the US Department of Agriculture and the Economic Development Administration for both the teaching winery and the winery incubator. Because of these grants, the SOWI winery is outfitted with the best available equipment for high quality winemaking on a small scale. We are expecting our first incubator clients in the 2014 harvest.
The Winery Setup
The winery crush pad is designed with two levels to allow for gravity flow processing, if desired, and has a large covered area for performing crush activities in inclement weather. The crush pad has been equipped with a high performance crusher / destemmer and both a belt and vibrating sorting table for sorting fruit before and after destemming. The crush pad also houses an automated membrane press and a traditional basket press for small lots.
The winery production floor is open and modular to allow for many configurations to meet the needs of SOWI students and incubator clients. The winery is equipped with glycol chilling for tanks and 3 individually temperature controlled barrel or case goods storage bays. The main production floor is not temperature controlled, but is well-insulated and has a night air cooling system which blows in cool air and evacuates warm air through skylight vents. All areas of the cellar are monitored with carbon dioxide alarm systems. In addition all high voltage electrical outlets are specially designed to promote a safe work environment. The main fermentation room has a slip-resistant epoxy floor coating which is easy to clean and acid-resistant. A mix of different types of tanks, pumps, and filtration / processing equipment have been purchased to give students a full picture of the different options available and to provide maximum flexibility to incubator clients.