Pulteney Wine Makers
After 18 months of intense tender loving care and lots of science, the release of this much anticipated student produced wine has arrived.
Countless lunchtimes, a few science lessons, and the occasional before and after school session have been used by this Year 11 and 12 science extension student group to explore the science of winemaking in a very hands-on way. Under the guidance of part-time chief winemaker and Laboratory Manager David Schultz, this group of keen Year 11 and 12 science students has explored topics such as density measurement and hydrometry, acidity / pH and its measurement and adjustment, oxidation and its control, and distillation but to name a few, in a far more detailed way than is possible in the classroom. At the same time they have made approximately 250 bottles of fine Shiraz wine.
The Pulteney Wine Makers is a voluntary group of science students from years 10, 11 and 12 who are given the opportunity every 2 years to investigate the science of winemaking in their spare time (rather than lesson time) and to make bottled wine. They do all of their own grape and wine processing, and all analytical and quality control procedures. Whether the wine succeeds or fails depends on their collective diligence and technical science ability.
In 2017, 21 students took up the challenge. In early March they ventured to the McLaren Vale vineyard of Steve and Julie Tunstill to pick 300 Kg 0f Shiraz grapes. (Once again we express our great appreciation to Steve and Julie for allowing the ‘invasion’ of their vineyard by Pulteney students to pick bunches of grapes, as well as donating them to the Pulteney Wine Makers).
Once the grapes were back at school, the students were split into 5 production groups with each looking after their own 20% share of the grapes and eventually wine. Pulteney Science is fortunate having its own secure laboratory exclusively put aside for winemaking study and production. The first month of grape handling and wine production was a very busy time. Destemming and crushing followed by fermentation with its associated need for constant mixing and temperature control meant all hands on deck for daily (including weekends) production and analysis activities. The very pleasant fruity aroma of fermenting grape ‘must’ permeated through the Science Wing and nearby areas of the campus.
Once fermentation and initial separation of skins, pulp and seeds from young wine was complete, the pace slowed allowing all concerned to relax a little and to take a deep breath. A suite of advanced chemical analyses and quality control procedures were performed over the next 12 months. As a side activity, students particularly enjoyed investigating some of the fascinating properties of liquid nitrogen and solid carbon dioxide (used in winemaking as a source of oxygen free atmosphere to surround the maturing wine).
Bottle label design saw many ideas and concepts put forward and discussed. Lara Candy’s concept of the historic roofline of the Nicholls Building was adopted, with her detailed initial drawings providing a solid base for the label design team of Lara, Joseph Ninio and Patrick Milewski to develop to completion. This concept proved very timely with 2018 seeing the Middle School move out of the historic Nicholls Building to new state of the art educational facilities. Pulteney’s 170th anniversary is also recognised.
The 2017/2018 Pulteney Wine Makers are very proud to now offer the result of their almost 2 year science exploration to the Pulteney Community. The Shiraz wine is of a very high quality and early indications are that at the price being asked ($12 per bottle) is a genuine bargain. All proceeds will go to covering the material costs of wine production and towards equipment purchases for future Wine Makers and Pulteney science focus groups. Details of how you can purchase some of this limited edition bottled wine appear at the end of this newsletter.
Pulteney Wine Makers 2017/2018
Pulteney Wine Makers Coordinator