Giovanni Petretta, a winemaker by birth from Santo Stefano, Italy via Brookfield, has been working for more than a year with Danbury's Tony Rizzo to bring his New York winemaking business to Danbury.
It opens Saturday with a tasting and introduction to the concept of a winemaking club from 3:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at 5 Shelter Rock Road. Inside the winery, visitors see the oak wine barrels, stainless steel drums for removing the grape sediment and then bottling the wine. They will see the equipment that de-stems the grapes and crushes them.
The first steps are taken in September as grapes are purchased in California and delivered to Danbury.
"I help people make their own wine in wine season," Petretta said. "There are so many ways to make wine. Everyone has their own way. I know my way and I'll teach people. I've never lost a barrel. I learned the right way from a baby."
Petretta will explain the details of the winemaking club Saturday, but the basic idea is people buy a barrel either alone or with partners. They buy grapes from mid-September into October and immediately upon their arrival from California, process them into the liquid that will eventually become wine.
"I want it to stay as natural as possible. I'm a winemaker, not a chemist," Petretta said. "Good wine is made with good grapes, love, passion, patience and hard work."
The wine matures in the oak barrels from October to January or February, when it is racked, which means the sediment is removed. They wash the barrel and return the wine to it. In June, club members start to bottle and label their wine. Petretta said people design their own labels with his help and people sometimes make the wine one year for a special event the next year, like a wedding.
"As their wine is fermenting, people will come in with some friends, they'll have some salami, some cheese and some bread and they'll try their wine," Petretta said.
"You get a group of people together and you have fun."