From grape to bottle, Jacquelyn Groeper knows her wines.
She knows where the best grapes grow for which wines, she knows which flavors meld together, she knows which wines need to age in what kinds of barrels and she knows which tastes, smells and colors to look for in her ideal glass of vino. She’s a lifelong wine lover, sure, but Groeper doesn’t pretend that her extensive knowledge is just second nature.
“The education is so important,” she said in the Artis Winery tasting room. “There’s a lot to it. It’s not just understanding the process, it’s understanding chemistry, biology and horticulture. It’s about knowing how to pick the right grapes from the right places and using them in the right way.”
Groeper was two decades into a finance job in Boston when she decided to leave it all behind and pursue wine-making full time. She took classes at Boston University, the University of California Davis and Washington State University before ultimately earning a certificate in enology, the study of wines, in 2016. Later that year, she and her business partner opened Artis Winery in a Pembroke industrial park.
“It was scary,” she said of taking such a risk. “But it’s something I really enjoy and am passionate about. I knew, because of that, I would be willing to work extra hard to make it happen.”
In the years since, Groeper has made roughly two dozen wines. She sources all of the grapes used at Artis from California, the Finger Lakes region of New York and the north fork of Long Island. She has taken yearly trips to California to suss out new growers and varieties, and said it’s very much still a learning process.
“That was quite intensive — understanding the growers, how they grow their grapes, what they grow,” Groeper said. “We buy a wide variety of grapes and it’s really important to be there, walking the vineyard and talking to the growers.”
Shipments of grapes usually arrive at the winery in Pembroke, Mass. in the fall, and Groeper works around the clock for several weeks to get through the fermentation and pressing process. Red wines are fermented, pressed and then aged in either American or French oak barrels from a year to 18 months before bottling. For white wines and rosés, the grapes are pressed immediately and put into stainless steel tanks where they ferment. By summer, they’re ready to be sold.
Groeper makes anywhere from five to eight different wines per year. A Cabernet or two — one of her favorite types of wine — is usually in the mix, and beyond that she experiments with new types of grapes and blends. One wine, she said, took 20 different tweaks to get just right.
One of her experiments, called Nero D’Avola and made from a grape native to Italy, recently took home a silver medal from the International Women’s Wine Competition.
“Nero D’Avola was inspired by a trip to Sicily. When I saw they were starting to grow that grape in California, I knew I had to make this wine and honor that trip,” she said.
“It’s a real learning process. You have to know the science but there is also a real art to it — especially if you’re creating a blended wine,” she said. “You have to know how to balance flavors and know how to make them work together.”
In addition to making and selling wine, Groeper said she tries to educate others about the process. She now co-teaches the wine making class at Boston University that she said “changed the trajectory of her life,” and also offers several classes at the winery, like Wine 101 and a wine and cheese pairing class.
“We’re passionate about what we do,” she said. “We love what we do and we like sharing that with others.”
Artis Winery makes just fewer than 1,000 cases of wine per year. Bottles sell for between $22 and $32, and are available for sale in several local shops like Snug Harbor Wine in Duxbury and Harborside Wine & Spirits in Scituate.
Photos in this post were taken by the wonderfully talented Lauren Owens Lambert. They were originally published in The Patriot Ledger.