June 20, 2011
I am proud to say that Day 1 of my internship at Galena Cellars is done! It seems like it took forever to actually get here. The trip alone took 14 hours plus countless other hours finding housing and figuring out all the details, but it was all completely worth it.
Galena Cellars is a small winery in Northwestern Illinois that makes a wider selection of wines than any other winery I have ever been to. They make 42 different wines including dry reds and whites, sweet wines, fruit wines, and several port and sparkling wines. This is quite impressive considering they only make about 50,000 gallons of wine each year. The winemaking staff is lead by Chris Lawlor, who opened the winery with help from her parents in the early 1970′s after receiving a degree in Enology from Fresno State University. The location of the winery has moved several times after it’s start in Iowa and Wisconsin. In the 1980′s, the Lawlor family decided to move the entire production to a small building in the town of Galena, Illinois. Once they outgrew that building, all of the actual winemaking production was moved onto a 25 acre farm about 15 minutes outside of town, while the building in town was converted into a tasting and sales room.
My first day consisted of a mix of different activities. Early in the morning, we started by tasting 6 barrels of St. Croix and 4 barrels of Marechal Foch to see if it was ready to be bottled yet. After deciding that the barrel of St. Croix with the added tannin was clearly better than the rest, it was my job to add tannin to the rest of the barrels then top them off with some Pinot noir. We tested the alcohol content on the Pinot noir because the it is going to bottled later in the week. Thanks to Wine Composition and Analysis, I was able to successfully complete a test for alcohol without any complications besides the fact that the thermometer was old and the markings were mostly rubbed off.
After lunch, I tagged along on a tour that Janet, a server in the tasting room, was giving to a couple. She even let me give some of the tour. I talked about Phylloxera and trellising systems out in the vineyard and aging and fining in the cellar. Once the tour was finished, I helped Britt, Chris’s daughter who is planning on marketing wine after college, take sugar readings on all of the wines. It took a long time and we wasted quite a bit of wine, but we got the job done.
Chris is entering 12 wines in the Illinois wine competition that takes place next week. We spent the remainder of the afternoon tasting around 25 wines to decide which ones should be entered into the competition. All in all it was a good day and I am looking forward to tomorrow even though we will be bottling (my least favorite activity). It will be different than home, so maybe, just maybe, it will be fun.