From the vine to the wine - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

From the vine to the wine

Leary- Charlie Cowart is the 3rd generation in a family of muscadine grape growers. "My grandfather started the vineyard back in the early 70's and it has grown slowly for the past thirty years," says Cowart.

And two years ago, he and his father began turning those growing grapes into eight different wines. "So far so good. We're tickled to death with the reception we've had from the local people and we're growing slowly but surely," says Cowart.

That describes the winemaking process. It's about a nine month task. In September, they'll begin harvesting. "On an average day, we'll try to run around 40 tons of fruit, from vine to juice," says Cowart.

So they have to crush and then press the tons of fruit before it can be turned into juice. "We'll have a pump that will be sitting right in here and there will be a hose here and we'll pump the juice into the building," says Cowart. Then they'll let the wine chill in fermenters and storage tanks which will maintain the temperatures. It takes two tanks to make one tank of wine in the process of moving fluids back and forth.

"That process is called racking. Then we begin our winemaking process, we'll add our own blend of yeast and whatever else the juice calls for," says Cowart. Then there's a slow fermentation of two to three months. Then several months and filterings later, it's time to bottle.

"It's pretty much a constant process. It'll keep one man busy as long as another man can keep up corking," says Cowart. It's the topping off of a long process. Charlie Cowart says it's a feeling of accomplishment.

"Yes sir, this is the finished product, this is when we see what we're all made of." He looks forward to continuing the tradition his grandfather started, making a product from the vine to the wine.

Still Pond Winery in Calhoun County opened to the public about two years ago. They pride themselves as the first winery in South Georgia.

posted by len.kiese@walb.com