Vino 101: Rowan-Cabarrus completes first winemaking class

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 5, 2015

Merlot, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, and Moscato – all are famously known across the country as popular wines.

The students of Rowan-Cabarrus Community College took this social delicacy to the next level by learning to make it on their own.

Twenty students and their professor, Jason Pfeffer, packed into the hobby and crafts room of Trinity Oaks on Monday evening for the last session of the five-week class on making their own bottle of wine.

The finish line was in sight, and the students laughed and chatted as they filled their own bottles, corked them – easier said than done for most — and sealed them. The classroom was filled with a lighthearted spirit as they bantered back and forth throughout the entire process.

This class is just one of many life enrichment classes offered by Rowan-Cabarrus Community College.

Winemaking isn’t the only class Pfeffer teaches. In fact, he started as a motorcycle class instructor for the college.

His interest in winemaking led to the idea of starting the class.

Pfeffer began by making wine at home, which became a fun hobby. He then took this hobby and shared his passion with the students in the community.

The class begins with a home winemaking kit.

During the first two weeks of the class, the students began by adding water, yeast, and other ingredients to the pre-packaged juice with the intent of making 6 gallons of a red Chilean merlot. This juice then fermented over the next couple weeks, while the students talked about the history of wine and covered a variety of topics relating to the beverage.

Not only did the students discuss the history of winemaking but they also shared recipes for making their unique wines.

During this process the added yeast eats away at the sugar in the wine, producing alcohol. Some students, who prefer a sweeter wine, would add their own sweeteners during this final session before bottling the wine.

Linda Agner, a Trinity Oaks employee, participated in the class. She mentioned how fun the class was. Agner was one of five employees of Trinity Oaks that participated in the class.

“We just thought it would be fun,” said Agner. “I really don’t know that I’ll make wine on my own, but I like it though.”

Agner went on to add that, “I feel like I learned a lot about the process.” She went on to say that it provided a deeper appreciation for the process of making wine.

The next winemaking class begins on April 20 as Pfeffer teaches students about making white wine. Those interested will have the opportunity to ask one-on-one questions with Pfeffer while making their wine.

White wines are typically a sweeter wine, with its most famous being the Chardonnay.

For more information about joining this class and other life-skill classes like it go to