Cindy Cosco on Winemaking

Winemaking Made Easy with Crushpad

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In This Issue

Meet the Wine Maker

A Winemaker’s Passion

Making Wine

E

ver since I was a little girl I knew that one day I would make my own wine. A fourth generation Italian American growing up in West Virginia, I used to love listening to my grandfather's colorful stories about making wine in his basement during Prohibition, which thanks to passage of the Volstead Act, “sacramental” wine was allowed to be made in homes. (It's a fun fact that during the two-year Prohibition period, demand for sacramental wine increased by 800,000 gallons!)

Charlie trotter, chef trotter,chef charlie

The other reason I became a winemaker was because I wanted to make a different Chardonnay, not the typical ‘oaked’ California Chardonnay made for the U.S. market. I wanted my Chardonnay to be clean, light, and crisp, with more of an Italian profile, which had been imprinted on my palate from my cultural heritage.

So when I landed the job in 2007 as lab manager for Crushpad here in San Francisco, the timing was perfect. Crushpad is a totally unique enterprise, a state-of-the-art winery where you get to be the winemaker. While all Crushpad clients can choose their level of involvement in the process, I knew I wanted to control every aspect of production. Prior to coming to Crushpad, I’d worked as wine chemist at Chateau St. Jean for three years, participating in many crushes. Then as lab manager at Crushpad, I routinely oversaw the fermentation and aging of thousands of barrels of wine. I was pretty confident I knew what I wanted and how to make it happen, from selecting the vineyard and the grapes to the lab work and, finally, to packaging and sales.

For my first Passaggio Chardonnay vintage in 2007, I chose grapes from Split Rock vineyard along the California Coast. The cooler climate typically produces grapes with a lower sugar content, which also results in a lower alcohol level, which is what I was after. I had set my goal on a target alcohol content of 13.8 and not higher than 14.2, although I was prepared to ameliorate, or add water, if the grape sugars were higher than my target.

Because my grapes were picked at night and immediately transported in refrigerated cars to Crushpad, they arrived at our facility still chilled and with my target sugar levels.

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