Winemaker Interview: Michele McAuliffe of R Dee Winery

5 years ago threadsandvino 0

In this week’s Winemaker Interview Michele McAuliffe talks about how her Grandfather inspired her and her husband Mark to open their family winery.

R Dee Winery is a family owned winery with a focus on grape to glass by utilizing grapes from regions that grow them best. Our grandfather, Richard Dee, taught us to put family ­first and always follow your dreams. He has inspired us to continue to make wine as he did for years creating many wonderful memories. We hope to one day own our own vineyard and continue to make great wine in Connecticut.  Pour a glass and create your story.” – Owner, Winemaker, and Winery Manager – Michele McAuliffe

Winemaker: Michele McAuliffe

Location: 504 Hazard Ave (Next to Powder Hollow Brewing), Enfield, CT 06082

Tasting Hours: Fridays 4:00-10:00PM, Saturdays 12-10:00PM, Sunday 1:00-5:00PM

Tasting Options: 4 Tastings for $10.00, any additional tastings are $2.00 each

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How did you get started winemaking? What first attracted you to winemaking?

I first got started in wine making because of my grandfather, Richard Dee Allbright. That is who our winery is named after. He is the one who introduced winemaking as a whole to our family. Some of my favorite memories were of my grandparents, my mom and my aunt with all of us cousins on his boat having wine tastings and happy hour. Of course we got to smell the wine and then had grape juice but the memories of the family time is what attracted me to winemaking. Anything that can bring family and friends together to create memories and stories is what I strive for. My Aunt Peggy actually got us into making it by giving us a few gallons of juice she had left over and we brought it back to our apartment and gave it a try. We put some yeast into it, put it in a closet and came back to it a few months later – it was horrible! The process intrigued us though as I wanted to create something that my grandfather had and we started researching and asking family secrets in making it. We fell in love with it and haven’t stopped making wine since.

What is the most difficult aspect of making wine? What’s or biggest challenge as a winemaker?

I think some of the most difficult aspects of making wine is time and a big challenge is having patience with the process. There is only a limited amount of time each year to make the wine and it puts a lot of pressure on you to get it right and then you have to wait till it’s just right which can try your patience haha!

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What makes your wine unique? What three words best describe your wine?

I think what makes our wine unique is that we are self-taught. We have done a lot of research, reading and asking questions but in the end we have just tried our best and are learning each year. Three words that describe our wine are simple, heartfelt, and young.

Any advice for a new winemaker?

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. There are so many resources out there and people who know so much about the industry. It is amazing how many people love winemaking and would be happy to share advice with new winemakers!

 What’s your favorite wine region?

We love the Finger Lakes in NY! Though I am biased because that is where my family is from and where we went to school! It just feels like a second home when we get to visit and brings back so many great memories.

How do you feel about the future of the wine industry? Where do you think it’s headed? Will

you ever release wine in cans?

I think the wine industry is opening up for so many options and I am loving the fact that it is welcoming to new and upcoming wineries like our own. I think it would be a fun release for wine in cans especially for the summer with people being so adventurous and wanting to try new things. We hope to be able to try canning if we are able to!

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Do you have any advice for women and/or the next generation of the wine industry?

Advice for women is to always dream big and don’t be afraid to go after what your dreams are. If you don’t try you will never know if you could have done it. I never thought we would be opening a winery right now while working a full time job and raising a family but with the support of family and friends you can do anything you put your mind to.

How many wines do you have in your portfolio and why? Do you have a favorite?

Right now we have 6 wines in our portfolio with another one hoping to be released around the holidays. I am loving how our rose came out and it may be my favorite wine we are opening with.

How do you keep a work/life balance? Is there such a thing as a work/life balance?

I do believe there is work/life balance I just don’t know if I have found it yet! lol I do believe that you have to work hard in life to provide the best life for your family and that is what I try to do each day.

Where is your wine sold? Where/how can we buy your wine?

Our wine is sold in our tasting room only right now. We are hoping to distribute to some local restaurants in the future.

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What would people be surprised to know about you?

I think people would be surprised to know that my husband and I are both Physical Therapists outside of opening our winery.

Are you filtering your wines?

I have started to filter my wines as of last year. I am still an amateur wine maker compared to many in the industry and have learned of many positive outcomes related to filtering our wines.

Is there new winemaking equipment you are impressed by?

Because we are about to open our doors at our winery all the wine making equipment is impressive! Going from home winemaker to commercial wine making has been an adventure. Every piece of equipment is bigger and very impressive!

Are there any new winemaking techniques or tools you’d like to experiment with?

The tool I would like to experiment with is a water bladder press. We have an old hand crank wooden press and even though it works well I have heard great things about the bladder presses.  I would love to experiment with going very traditional and using wood barrels.  We have done all our winemaking in tanks and would love to learn more about aging in the barrels.

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Which wines are you most proud of and why?

I am most proud of making our wines that originate in the Finger Lakes Region. My family is from The Finger Lakes and my husband and I went to school in that region as well. We have so many amazing memories associated with this region and its wine.  When I make these wines they bring back memories of my family, especially my grandpa. He made wine in his basement that brought our whole family together. Making a wine that he also made makes me so proud.  To be able to bring those kinds of memories to our next generation is something I know would have made my grandfather proud.

What are your greatest joys in the wine industry today?

My greatest joy so far in the wine industry is being able to accomplish my dreams. My husband and I would always talk about “one day it would be amazing to own our own winery…” and now we are weeks away from our grand opening! The wine industry has very welcoming and friendly people who have been willing to help me accomplish my dreams.

I want to give a big Thank You to Michele McAuliffe from R Dee Winery for giving us a peak into the life of a Connecticut Winemaker. Make sure to stop by R Dee Winery in Enfield, CT for some delicious wines made from a very passionate Winemaker! #GirlsMakeWineToo