Customer of the Month – Rob Gerster & Carey Rich

Rob Gerster & Carey Rich

How long have you been Wine Making?

It all started about 5 years ago when I wanted to do something different for my wife’s birthday. I thought it would be fun to make her some Wine seeing that she loves her Merlots and Pinot Noirs. It has now turned into an obsession and a hobby for me. I never really drank wine; I always drank beer. I mostly drank Coors Light, but over the years, I have become a lover of all wines. My wife always complained that she could never order a bottle of wine at dinner because she had no one to share with her. I then began trying the sweet flavored wines and fell in love with several of them. From there, my palette changed, and I started to appreciate the RED wines. Now I drink Red wines and Dark Bourbon Beers. I love dark beers as well and would never give a second thought to drinking a Coors light over a Micro beer. Dry Dock had me hooked on the Vanilla Stout, so I just continued with drinking dark beers and Red wines. I have probably made over
2500 bottles of wine over the past several years. I would love to open up my own winery here, in Aurora; I just have not pulled the trigger on that, just yet.

What is your favorite wine style to make?

I enjoy making all types of wine. I have made over 50 varieties, but I enjoy making REDS more than anything. I enjoy making dessert wines because they have a higher alcohol % and the flavors available are so good. I enjoy taking Dessert wines and fortify them with Brandy to give them that extra kick. I have recently been making my own Bourbon barrel Zinfandel. Seeing that I do not have access to a used whiskey barrel, I have had to improvise with bourbon chips to get that bourbon flavor. My first batch was a huge success and many of our friends absolutely love it.

Are you a member of any clubs or organizations?

We are members of AHA and are looking forward to GABF this year. We are current members of Launch Pad Brewery. We love the people there and the beer is very good as well. We just attended the Castle Rock wine fest and gathered a lot of information and ideas for the next wines we will make. We do frequent several wineries, including those that make their wines from kits like we do. We get to sample flavors we currently have not made to see if we would enjoy them. This is much easier than buying a kit hoping that we will like the flavor.

Have you won any medals or awards?

Yes, I recently won a 2019 Silver medal for my Pinot Grigio at the International Amateur Wine Making competition. I was very proud of this seeing that I have made several kits of the Pinot Grigio. I currently have 5 wines in the Colorado State Fair wine competition so we will see how that turns out later this year.

Describe your wine-making process.

I have built a wine production room in my basement that is always temperature controlled (about 72 degrees) and that is one of the key things when making wine. I sterilize everything before I do anything, this way I know once it is completed nothing is contaminated and is good to drink. I check the specific gravity of the wine 2-3 times during the fermentation and record everything for each batch of wine. Occasionally I will add different things during the fermentation so to give the wine a different flavor in the end. Once the fermentation is complete, I again record the gravity and then transfer the wine to another sanitized carboy to start the degassing and clearing. This is about a 10-minute process for about 6 gallons of wine and again, if the gravity is not correct the wine will not clear properly. Once I have added in the Sulphite, Potassium, and Kieselsol, I leave the wine to sit for another 3-4 weeks. After the 3- 4-week period, I check the specific gravity, record the reading and if ready, I filter the wine. I filter all my wines before bottling. I filter the REDS once using a Buon Vino Mini Jet Wine filter along with a #2 pad. All the WHITE wines get filtered twice; once with a #2 and then a #3 filter. Once I have everything bottled, I put a colorful shrink capsule on the bottle and then label everything. All my WHITES and SWEET wines are ready to drink right away for the most part, but my REDS I let sit in the bottle for up to 6 months before opening. (that’s if I can keep the wife away from it that long). I have about 9 wine racks that hold up to 72 bottles at a time and right now they are full for friends and family to come over and enjoy a glass or two.

What piece of equipment or brewing process has made the most difference in your wine?

hard question but without a doubt, I can say my homemade system because I built it designed it I know exactly how it performs and how to really dial in my beers. From perfect mash temperatures to protein rest to step mashing I can do everything efficiently and know exactly the results I’ll get.

What other fermented beverages have you made?

I recently had a Chocolate Cherry dessert
wine that I had a friend distill it to make a Brandy and it turned out awesome. I also like to take
Vodka and add different types of fruits, peppers, and candies to them to make different flavored
vodkas.  I would love to get a small Whiskey Quarter cask approx. 45-50 liters and do a Cabernet in that.

List of any other hobbies or interests.

Traveling to new places, brew hopping, visiting wineries
and wine festivals, and spending time with family and friends. We have a 2-year-old Bulldog that goes
everywhere with us. You may have seen George at Dry Dock or other local Breweries.

Is there anything else you would like to share about yourself?

Rob is a Sr. Project manager at a Denver based low voltage company and has been doing this line of work for over 25 years. Carey works for Cherry Creek School district as a Behavior Support Specialist for students with Social and
Emotional disabilities. She has been with CCSD for over 12 years. We would love to open my own winery
here in Aurora I just haven’t pulled the trigger on that, just yet.