Mad County Winery open for business
BY LORETTA GILLESPIE / SPECIAL TO THE RECORD
Cotton Williams decided to try his hand at winemaking after seeing a Deana Carter music video called, ‘Straawberry Wine’.
“I just had to have some straawberry wine,” laughed Cotton.
Although he’d sampled several varieties of wine, he had problems with acid reflux. He figured out that even though the label said ‘straawberry,’ the wine was grape-based so he decided to try making his own.
“Not burdened with an education on winemaking, everything was fair game,” laughed Williams. “I developed a sweet and very strong wine.”
He delivered his gifts in a vintage 1963 Ford Galaxy station wagon. Christened ‘Black Betty,’ the car was painted a flat black color, and was easily recognizable as it tooled along the streets of Madison.
“People started stopping me to ask about my wine,” he said.
Even as his reputation for making good wine continued to grow, Williams kept striving to improve the taste- although he couldn’t sell it.
Then, along came a movement called, ‘Save The Hops,’ and it changed everything.
“The laws endorsed by Free The Hops raised the legal limit of alcohol in wine and beer, so I could legally sell my wine,” he explained.
“Over the next 17 months, I had to go through four different governments,” he said. ‘The city, county, state and federal governments couldn’t figure out what to do with me because my wine wasn’t made with liquor.”
In the meanwhile, he went about refining his recipes, designing a label (Black Betty heading into a quarter moon) and having wine tastings with local bartenders.
“I achieved 20 percent alcohol by volume through a procedure called double fermentation,” he explained. “When I applied for approval of my recipes with federal government, my wine didn’t fit into any established category,” he said.
His Mad County Winery was a country fruit wine that was as strong as a fortified wine.
“So they created the non – standard, high- fermentation wine category in order to classify my new wine,” he explained.
“We have five very strong and sweet country wines,” he continued. “All of our wines are 20 percent alcohol by volume, un-aged, unpasteurized, and to maintain the highest natural fruit flavor, unfiltered.”
Williams described the taste as being like a starburst on steroids.
“Just the way wine is meant to be enjoyed,” he smiled.
“This is purely by fermentation with no addition of spirits or fortifying,” he stressed. “Mad County Winery produces the only high- fermentation wine in Alabama and as far as we can know, anywhere.”
The strawberry tastes like jam. AlaBamaRita, a combination of citrus and apple wines, tastes just like a Margarita Straawberry Rhubarb. Apple is reminiscent of a sweet, red apple. Butter scotch and Cinnamon, tastes like a spiced apple pie – you will beg for a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
“I’m the Willy Wonka of wine,” he joked.
Presently, the only place you can purchase Mad Country Winery’s product is directly from them. They are located at 121 Castle Drive, right of Slaughter Road. Phone: (256) 864-7775.