On Wednesday, the Boston Center for Adult Education (BCAE) will be hosting Frank Zoll of Zoll Cellars in Shrewsbury as part of a two-part winemaking class. The two classes will feature Frank, who is the owner and primary winemaker at his vineyard, directing students in the creation of wine, from the crushing of grapes to the beverage packaging in their very own homemade bottles.
Zoll’s passion for food and beverage began as child, when he would make bread as a hobby and continued when he attended Johnson & Wales in Providence, Rhode Island, graduating in 1997. In 2001, while he was pastry chef at The Marriot Marquis in New York City, often cooking for up to 3,000 people, Frank began making wine in his parents’ kitchen. Starting with grapes he’d procure from California, Massachusetts, and New York, Zoll began making more and more wine until, in 2008, he planted his first vineyard in Shrewsbury. The next year Zoll Cellars was a genuine winery and has continued to grow since the first Zoll Cellars bottles were introduced to commercial market in late 2010.
Zoll Cellars grows roughly 25 percent of the grapes they use for the wines in their repertoire. The varietal grown in Shrewsbury is Traminette, which is a French-American hybrid that shares many characteristics with a Gewurztraminer, strong and heady with a heavily perfumed scent of grapefruit, honey, and peach. Frank contracts most of the other grapes, including Riesling and Cab Franc, from other states.
Wines produced on the East Coast and in the middle of this country do not have a reputation for yielding the highest quality wines; that distinction has been bestowed upon California, Oregon, and Washington, but Zoll is looking to open people’s eyes to the growing quality of local wines.
“I want to show people what is growing around them, we can make good wine in this region,” he said. “We have an Alsatian like terroir with an elevation of 500 or so feet. It is similar to a Zone 5, French varietals grow well in Massachusetts.”
Currently Zoll Cellars distributes to nearly 20 wine and liquor stores across Massachusetts and is expanding. In 2011 they have sold over 500 cases.
Zoll is teaching the wine class at BCAE because he has noticed how much people enjoy consuming wine and that there has been a rising interest in the industry as a whole. On October 12th at 6:00pm Zoll will bring in a between 400 and 500 pounds of Riesling and a 30 gallon ratchet-press to the BCAE and instruct the students while they crush the grapes by hand. “We’re going to put the Riseling into fermentation for four weeks at room temperature, then bottle it in November,” says Zoll. “Each student will take home six bottles just in time for Thanksgiving.”
The second class, on November 15, will involve the bottling of the wine. Zoll chose Riesling because it pairs well with the traditional Thanksgiving Dinner. “It’s similar to a nouveau style of Riesling,” he said. “It goes very well with both roasted turkey and butternut squash.”
You can sign up for the class online at the BCAE website.