A charming little winery (in an office park)
A warehouse in a South Shore corporate park might seem like an unlikely spot to make wine, but it’s an ideal location for Jacquelyn Groeper, a Boston University alumna crafting pours of her own. She’s even involving wine students from her alma mater to learn about the process firsthand.
In September, together with co-owner Karyn Schilke, Groeper launched Artis Winery, off of Route 3 in Pembroke. It’s a 2,400-square-foot space with all of the equipment a modern wine producer needs. Because wines made from California- and New York-grown grapes are just starting to mature in tank and barrel, there is no tasting room yet. One is planned to debut next fall, located just inside the entrance of the facility. Bottles of chardonnay and a rosé of pinot noir will be available then, and reds (including a grenache-tempranillo blend) in 2018.
Groeper had been thinking for years about establishing a winery. Visits to vineyards in France and Spain provided sparks of inspiration. Studying about wine and taking a winemaking course with Master of Wine Bill Nesto at the Elizabeth Bishop Wine Resource Center at BU bolstered her confidence. “A seed was planted,” she says. “That’s when I started realizing I could make my own quality wine.”
The name of the winery, she explains, derives from Latin. The word speaks to both skill and method. “It sums up my goal to make small-lot, hand-crafted wine, incorporating the science and craft of winemaking,” she says. While the pours she vinifies are hers, and the 400 cases of this year’s vintage will be marketed under the Artis label, she welcomes the participation of BU’s winemaking students. This semester, all of them are working professionals from a variety of fields. Groeper now co-teaches the class with Nesto.
On a recent Saturday morning, four of the five enrolled students are present, engaged in conversation with Groeper, Nesto, and Schilke about the task at hand. They will hydrate a freeze-dried culture of bacteria and inoculate the wines, ensuring that malolactic fermentation (conversion of the grape’s malic acid to the softer lactic variety) proceeds smoothly. Class members appear focused as one opens a packet and dissolves the contents in a measure of water, then pours the mixture into a barrel of cabernet sauvignon. Laughter breaks out as each takes a turn stirring the wine with a long-necked paddle attached to a cordless drill. Students are clearly enjoying the process, but are careful not to muck about. “These are Jacquelyn’s wines after all,” says one.
Groeper is happy to involve them in the process. “The class gives students the practical aspects of winemaking,” she says. They learn more this way than sitting in a classroom or reading a book. The extra energy it takes to host and co-teach a class at the winery is worth it.
“The BU program gave so much to me,” she says. “I love what I’m doing, and excited about giving back.”
Artis Winery is located at 300 Oak St., Corporate Park Drive, Unit 470, in Pembroke. Look for a tasting room in fall 2017.