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Hannibal Courier - Post - Hannibal, MO
  • The wine process

  • There's all kinds of variety when you go to pick wine at Mark Twain Cave's Cave Hollow West Winery.
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  • There's all kinds of variety when you go to pick wine at Mark Twain Cave's Cave Hollow West Winery.
    You can get red, you can get white. There's sweet, there's dry.
    But before it gets behind the bar, before it even gets in the bottle, there's a process to make the wine unique and extraordinary.
    Chris West is the "West" in Cave Hollow West Winery, and all of the offered selections start with him in Macon, Mo.
    "We work with the grape growers all year long," he said. "That's where it really all starts. Good grapes come from good growers. We have some very good growers across the state. We have some in Macon, we have some in the middle of the state, we have some up in Unionville."
    The aging process for some wines is eight months to a year. But that's after the grapes are prepared.
    "We take them either through one of two different processes. We take them through a red process. Red wines are different than white. Red grapes will come in, we'll just crush and press them and we'll let them sit and ferment on the skins for about seven to 10 days and then we'll press them. Then they'll go to tank and then to aging," West said. "We're always a year behind with everything that we do. There's still things that could be messed up so you have to do a lot of barrel maintenance and you have to make sure everything's topped off, put sulfates in it."
    Before the wine is bottled, how it is stored and what it's stored in can play a huge role as to how the wine settles and tastes.
    The wood of barrels can affect the flavor of any wine, and air, which allows the wine to "breathe."
    "We're actually pretty lucky here in Missouri, we have a cooperage called A&K and it's American New Oak (barrels). I like their 3-year-old barrels that come back from the winery out there," West said. "They've had cabernet in them and what not. We're actually going to probably get out of the barrel side of it because we've gone to these square tanks now and we'll be able to add oak chips to it and decrease our (aging) time."
    The wood chips have the same affect as a barrel. However, the wine has to be kept in a cold atmosphere so heat doesn't taint the flavor. About 64 or 65 degrees does just fine.
    And since this is the land of Mark Twain, the wines do reflect the famous author's namesake and titles.
    There's Mark Twain Reserve and An Innocent Broad, named after Twain's book "The Innocence Abroad." Like every wine, they ­— along with the several others available — are eccentric to wine admirers and enthusiasts.
    Page 2 of 2 - And in case you're wondering, it's the white wine that needs more care.
    "White wine, you have to get it in the bottle a little quicker," West said. "About six months, eight months max (of aging) and then you should get it out to the consumer."

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