The MCCC Culinary Arts students held their inaugural Community Crush on Sept. 14.
People around the community were given the opportunity to bring in grapes. The students crushed them and returned the juice so they could make their own wine.
The grapes were brought in by buckets and then dumped into a motorized crusher. This machine separates the grape pulp from the stems.
When the grapes get dumped into the “hopper,” pulp and juice falls through the bottom and stems are discarded out the side.
“We invited people to come in and give us their grapes for us to crush so they can go and make their own wine,” said John Feaganes, resident of the Culinary Arts Club.
The Bacchus Society was formed for the purpose of creating a viticulture program at MCCC, making it one of the first community colleges in Michigan to offer degree programs in this field.
It started when a group of people got together who have an interest in wine, decided to plant a vineyard, and are now working to create a wine-making program at MCCC.
“Food and wine are such a big part of culinary arts,” said Chef Kevin Thomas, a board member of the Bacchus Society.
Over the next several years, the Bacchus Society intends to add different varieties of white and red grapes to its vineyard.
Unfortunately, due to the harsh winter, the plan suffered a major setback.
“We lost a lot of grapes last winter; it put us about two years behind where we want to be,” Thomas said.
“We have some petite pearls this year, which are meant to last through the cold. A matter of five degrees has the power to wipe out an entire vineyard.” Wine making is becoming more and more common every day.
When MCCC held its Community Crush, it helped many people around the community make their own wine.
“I’ve been making my own wine for 15 years; I’ve never really had a special technique. I destem all of the grapes and then crush them with a piece of wood I made myself. Bringing them here made it a lot easier,” said Dan Poirer, a Monroe resident.
Big dreams and high hopes are in store for this class as they proceed to take on this vineyard and students look forward to what will happen in the future. “I’m hoping once we can get it decorated, when it’s all grown, we can have events here like a wedding,” Thomas said.
“I want to get connected to people around the community.”