MADISON COUNTY, AL (WAFF) - When you arrive at the Mad County Winery, Cotton and Melinda Williams will greet you with their old '63 Ford Galaxy station wagon and a briefing on their wine.
"Mad County Wines are hand made by hand bottled fun," said Cotton Williams. "They are unfiltered, unpasteurized, unaged."
He said "over filtering" takes away taste. He's very particular about what goes into them, pointing out that there are no grapes with subtle flavoring, but pure, robust fruit.
"Actually we use all of these as fermenters. Sometimes simultaneously," he said.
One of his secrets is mashed fruit.
"We generally get our fruit as a puree," said Williams. "It comes in tins and we come here to alpha - our primary tank - 300 gallons, fill it up with water and we heat it to about 100 degrees, and then we take the fruit puree, and that's the beginning of our must," said Williams.
He said yeast and gravity are followed by a second fermentation. From the time the fruit is added to the mix until it is table ready is about three weeks. He said his wine is like "fruit on steroids." When he first began his winery, Alabama law had some strict guidelines when it came to alcohol content.
"Then 'free the hops' came along," he said. "Bless them. They got the laws changed to my advantage, and then I felt I had to make some wine and have a larger group of people I could share my wine with," he said.
His wine has 20 percent more alcohol by volume which gives it more "kick." All customers are invited to a tasting, provided they can prove they are of legal tasting age. We checked out the strawberry. And there are several varieties to choose from, and yes we tested them, apple, peach, Alabamarita and more. Cotton has a philosophy about his wines.
"I believe that every human is born with an intrinsic desire to drink my wine on their 21st birthday."
Because of the high alcohol content Williams recommends combining some wines with soda.
"With the Alabamarita, all you need is a little shaved ice, a little salt on the rim and a sombrero and it's party time!" said Cotton.
And yes, the apple does taste like apple pie.
At a regular wine store and for a regular bottle of wine, you're going to be looking at about 24 ounces. At Mad County Winery you're going to get a mason jar with about 34 ounces, quite a find in Bobby's Bama.