COLD LAKE – Wine lovers in Cold Lake can make and bottle their own wine thanks to Corks & Caps ferment-on-premise.
“Ferment-on-premise is for those people who either don’t have the time or just don’t want to make it themselves at home,” explained Corks & Caps owner Sherine Leiper, adding the process begins with a customer picking a wine kit.
“They pick the type of wine they want, they sprinkle the yeast, which is called pitching the yeast, and then they go away while I do all the steps and ferment the wine for them. Then, I call them when it’s ready, the customer comes back, I get them set up and they bottle it themselves.”
Leiper started offering the experience after the province lifted restrictions on the practice late last year. Each kit consists of everything someone needs to make their own wine, and can be purchased to be done at home if you have the right equipment.
According to Leiper, Corks & Caps is the only ferment-on-premise facility in the area. The next closest locations are in Lloydminster and Edmonton.
When Leiper began the process of offering ferment-on-premise, she had to move into a bigger space at 5109 51 Ave. to follow the Alberta Gaming, Liquor, and Cannabis (AGLC) regulations.
“With the ferment-on-premise, it has to be separate from your retail location and not accessible to the public,” she stated. “I needed a bigger space so I could have it at the back with the door and the retail portion of the store is in the front where customers can come in but the back is restricted just to the ferment-on-premise.”
When coronavirus restrictions forced Leiper to temporarily close her doors to the public, she still offered curbside pick-up and ferment-on-premise proved to be a popular option.
“During COVID-19, things picked up a little because people were at home and they were bored or they were drinking more wine than they had at home and they were starting to run out,” Leiper joked.
She added, “People were either bored and thought ‘oh, I’ve some time on my hands and I can make wine’ or they just started talking to friends and said ‘oh, I had some wine made for me at Corks & Caps.’ It’s really getting started now and it got the ball rolling.”
As a wine lover, Leiper jumped on the opportunity to purchase Corks & Caps roughly five years ago when the business went up for sale. She became the fourth owner since it was launched in 1992.
“I used to own a flower shop here in Cold Lake, so I’ve been here my whole life basically in the retail industry and I thought ‘well, that’s something.' I like to make wine and I just decided to go for it. So here I am.”
Leiper has seen the craft industry gain popularity since she took over Corks & Caps.
“It’s just a really attractive hobby for people, and it saves you a lot of money. The craft industry has… really taken off in the last two or three years and because we can actually do this in Alberta now, there’s breweries, ferment-on-premise, and distilleries popping up all over the place.”