Holiday cheer for students in New Mexico State University’s fall introductory winemaking class came in the form of wine – Zinfandel and Dolcetto – that they made, bottled and labeled themselves.

The 14 NMSU students taking the class for credit, as well as the nine community members taking it as an Extension workshop, came away from the experience with a full case of the wines the class produced.

All participants were required to be at least 21 years of age.

The course is team-taught by Bernd Maier, NMSU Extension viticulture specialist, and Bill Gorman, professor emeritus of agricultural economics and agricultural business. This was the second year the course was offered by NMSU.

The class is designed to meet the needs of students planning careers in the wine or restaurant business; community members who grow grapes on their property and want to take the next step, or who are considering a career change; and even individuals just wanting to know more about wine.

The class covers three areas, according to Gorman: how to make wine, the economics of winemaking and building a winery, and marketing the wine. It is tailored to New Mexico’s growing wine industry, which is dominated by small wineries spread around the state.

The program’s equipment, housed in the small viticulture facility at NMSU’s Fabian Garcia Science Center, is basically a miniaturized version of what a large winery would use. It includes a stemmer/crusher, a bladder press, pumps, tanks, and filtration equipment.

“A student will get to work with all of this equipment along the winemaking process that is really no different than what would be encountered in a medium-scale commercial winery,” Maier said.

Although Maier grows wine grapes at Fabian Garcia for research purposes, the vineyard does not yet have the capacity to supply what the class needed for production purposes. So they went on a field trip over Labor Day weekend and brought back Zinfandel and Dolcetto grapes from a vineyard near Deming. Upon their return, they crushed the grapes and set them up for fermentation.

After a week, they ran the grapes through the bladder press to squeeze the juice out and then transferred the juice into the tanks.