The hands-on experience from crushing and fermentation, through racking and fining, to the final filtering and bottling proceeded in tandem with the academic content of the class.

Among the local community members taking the class through NMSU Extension were Rusty and Carol Babington. Rusty is an attorney and Carol is a real estate broker.

Carol said the class was an eye-opener for her, in terms of how complex the whole winemaking process is and the crucial importance of cleanliness to the success of the process. “I’m very confident that I can make my own wine now,” she said. “We will continue the learning process.”
She also said she can imagine being involved in the future in some aspect of the New Mexico wine industry, perhaps on the marketing side.

Meanwhile, the Babingtons are enjoying the fruits of their semester-long labors. “We took this class for fun,” Carol said. “The wine that we have, that we bottled, was definitely worth the price of the class.”

The Babingtons hosted a holiday wine-tasting party recently for a number of friends, and included Zinfandel from the class in the selection. The wine is young – the 13 weeks between crushing and bottling is mandated more by the semester schedule than by what produces great wine – but Carol reported that it was quite well received.

The final assignment of the class was to design and produce labels for their own bottles, and there was a contest at Gorman’s end-of-semester banquet to identify the winning design. The labels added the final touch to the bottles, which many of the students planned to give as holiday gifts, spreading the holiday cheer to friends and family.

The course will be offered again in fall 2012.

To learn more about all aspects of New Mexico viticulture and NMSU support for the wine industry, go to http://aces.nmsu.edu/ces/viticulture/.