CIRCLEVILLE, Ohio (Pickaway Cultivator) – Finding locally-made, fresh products from local farms is one of the many things that is great about Pickaway County – with a variety of products that can be bought locally at the farms themselves or at the Pickaway County Visitors Bureau and Welcome Center.
One of the local businesses we have located just in Circleville, Ohio is Manchester Hill Winery. Manchester Hill is owned by Nicole Mitchell and with winemaker Patrick McGrath, they’ve been able to turn what was once a hobby into a profiting business. This business was established in 2011 and offers wines and hard ciders that are entirely made here in Pickaway County.
“We both had our other jobs, you know, both had our lives and this was a hobby. Then it became a passion and now it’s 100% full time that we do this,” Nicole shared.
Over the span of nine years, Manchester Hill has grown to offer a variety of delicious wines and even offers an experience inside their building, where customers can stop in to purchase wine by the bottles or partake in experiences that allows them to order a glass of one of their wines and items off their food menu.
The process of making the wine that you would drink at Manchester Hill isn’t as simple as one may think, which Patrick shared with us when we stopped down to get a glimpse into the process of making wine.
“I don’t know if people know but Steve and I here put a ton of work into this wine. There is a lot of effort that goes into producing what’s in that glass especially when you’re trying to do it at a high level of quality,” he explained, going on to add: “There are a million steps in between.”
After the grapes are harvested, they’re placed inside of a walk-in cooler that allows them to cool down after sitting in the sun for a long period of time. Once cooled down, the grapes are poured into a destemmer, which separates the grapes from their stems before the grapes are pumped through a hose that brings it into the fermentation barrel.
The process of destemming can take as little as 15-20 minutes, with the actual process of cleaning and fermenting taking the most amount of time.
“We do fermentation on the skins and that will take about two weeks or so, and then we’ll put them in the press and separate the skins and press the young wine. At that point, and then we’ll put them into barrels and fill them up, and then it’ll sit there for a year to two years until we blend it and then bottle it,” Patrick explained.
This is what goes into the process of making one of their delicious dry red wines, which Patrick admits takes a bit longer to age than it would one of their lighter, sweeter wines.
“We let the wines age until they’re ready so that sometimes can take 18 months to 24 months. It varies based on the type of wine,” Patrick shared. “We focus on quality over volume, so if it takes longer than to get the quality we want then that’s just what we did.”
After the grapes are pressed, they’re put into drums that allows for the next process to begin. Once the sediment settles and the stuff floats to the top.
“We want the clear juice, we don’t want any of the sediment. We don’t want to make the wine with that. In order to keep that high quality, we don’t use every gallon of the juice we settle it out and clean it up,” Patrick stated.
About 500 pounds and 19 lugs of grapes were poured into the destemmer, which in the end will end up being around 30-35 gallons of finished wine.
The leftover scraps from the destemming process is recycled by being placed into a compost pile, which then decomposes and goes back into fertilizer.
“We don’t want to haul it off to a landfill, [we] try to minimize the waste we use. Sometimes we’ll even take the pomice after we press, and we have farmers come and get it,” Patrick shared, adding: “I think a lot of people don’t realize [what goes into each glass], and this is just processing the grapes. You know, planting the vines, pruning them, training them, growing the grapes each season, harvesting them, processing them. Then, processing the wine it’s just like a lot of work that goes into it but that’s what we do.”
“It’s worth it,” Nicole confessed.
Even with the current situation regarding COVID-19, things haven’t slowed down at Manchester Hill Winery. After walking us through the process of what goes into a wine tasting, Nicole shared that things have been picking up.
“This year has been a record year for us,” Nicole admitted, sharing with us: “It’s because people all of a sudden are exploring what’s right next door to them. About 70% of new customers lived within a 5-10 mile radius that didn’t even know that we here, didn’t even know there was a winery in Pickaway County.”
The increase in business has allowed for Manchester Hill Winery to hire more people as they continue to grow and expand what they’ve built over the last nine years.
Manchester Hill Winery is located at:
13160 Tarlton Rd
Circleville, OH 43113
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