September 15, 2016 | By RJS Craft Winemaking
What is it that you look for when visiting one of our loyal RJS Craft Winemaking Academy Stores? Is it the friendly service, the knowledgeable owners, the large selection of wine styles, or maybe even just a clean and comfortable environment? While everyone might have a different answer to this question, none will deny that RJS Academy Stores are at the forefront of our industry because of their innovation and pursuit of excellence.
St Marys Wines is owned and operated by Randy Partridge, in the beautiful town of St Marys, Ontario. Randy, one of our most passionate and innovative Academy store-owners, draws dedicated customers in from as far as 150km away. Randy has been making wine now for 40 years, all starting at 17 years old when his older brother gave him a wine kit. Since that first kit, Randy has developed many tricks and techniques that have allowed him to take RJS Craft Winemaking kits to the next level.
We all know that quality wine kits always begin with quality juice, and RJS maintains a very high standard year after year. Water quality, which is the responsibility of each individual winemaker, is probably the second most important aspect of producing outstanding wines from kits since it plays a crucial role in healthy fermentations and wine clarification. Water filtration is very important to Randy so he uses a double carbon filter, followed by a UV light.
A hotly debated topic among many RJS Academy owners is which degassing technique to use. I have noticed most craft winemaking retailers using the drill mounted fizz-x tool for removing carbon-dioxide from the wine. This technique is efficient for removing carbon-dioxide, but it also introduces unwanted oxygen into the wine and can potentially blow off beneficial volatile aromatics from the wine. Randy uses a vacuum pump for degassing his wines which allows him to degas a carboy in about 5 minutes. Once he has the negative pressure set at around 20PSI, he can walk away and complete another task in his store while the carboy is degassing. For larger retailers, this degassing method can be an excellent way of maximizing store labor-efficiency. The vacuum method of degassing is very gentle on the wine, can be installed for as little as $300, does not introduce any unwanted oxygen, and results in wines that are softer and smoother on the palate.
Randy’s true pride and joy (other than his family) would have to be his sparkling wine and beer programs. He has been experimenting with different sparkling wine styles and methods, and as a result has won many awards at the annual Wine Maker International Amateur Wine Competition. You name a wine, Randy has made it as a sparkling! He uses a counter pressure bottling unit which allows him to efficiently bottle the sparkling wine while reducing foam overs in bottle.
What I respect most about Randy is his willingness to help other retailers improve their winemaking processes, and help new retailers get off on the right foot. It is passionate retailers like Randy Partridge at St Marys Wines and their dedication to their craft who will help to bring the craft winemaking industry to the next level!
Chris Holman has been making wine professionally since 2006, which has led him to work in regions such as the Niagara Peninsula, Okanagan Valley, McLaren Vale South Australia, and Tasmania. Chris earned a 2 year diploma at Niagara College in Winemaking and Viticulture in 2008 and more recently he received a 4 year B.Sc degree majoring in Oenology and Viticulture at Brock University in 2015. His academic achievements in addition to his technical winemaking experience will allow him to provide our customers with excellent technical support and new ideas, helping them continue to make excellent wines.