Picky about wine? Try making your own
NEW YORK |
NEW YORK Jan 12 (Reuters Life!) - If you have great grapes, the right equipment, an experienced wine maker and $5,000, it's pretty easy to make a barrel of good wine - even if you live in Finland.
Rather than investing in shares in a vineyard, some wine lovers are taking their passion literally into their own hands and making their own wine.
"There's a good chance that you can even make a really great wine," said Noah Dorrance, marketing director of Crushpad, an urban winery in San Francisco where you can make your own custom wine.
Dorrance said Crushpad's clients, who range from doctors and lawyers to salesmen and IT experts, are people "who either don't have the resources - those being usually money or experience or time - to start their own winery."
Instead they can visit Crushpad's huge warehouse in a gentrifying strip on the edge of San Francisco's Mission District.
"There are barrels and bottles, winemakers, label designers, the apparatus to sell your wine to others. It's a way to have a winery and keep your day job," said Dorrance.
"You can come up here and harvest, crush, blend or not come at all. Either way, it's a great learning experience."
He said making your own wine did not mean settling for lesser quality, noting wine critic Robert Parker had bestowed a rating of over 90 on at least one client's vintages.
About half of Crushpad's clients live in the San Francisco Bay area and regularly visit the winery or go up to one of the 30 vineyards that have been contracted to supply grapes.
"But this year we hope to install video cameras in the vineyards, so folks who can't make it here can see what the conditions are at any time," Dorrance said.
HOW DOES YOUR VINEYARD GROW?
That will make it easier for the other half of the 1,500 or so customers, who live in one of 35 different U.S. states, the United Kingdom, Italy, Canada and Finland to monitor the weather conditions and harvest online at Crushpadwine.com.
This spring, customers who cannot make it to the winery will also be sent samples of their own barrels, as well as blending wines and instructions on how to hold a blending session by Crushpad which makes more than 400 different wines.
"Usually we have a huge blending session at the winery," Dorrance explained. "It's a chance to add a touch more cabernet franc to that Bordeaux blend or maybe soften the cabernet in your barrel with a bit of merlot.
"Before, our customers who couldn't make it to the winery missed out on this step. But this year, we're sending them they're own blending kits. Invite three or four of your friends over and have a small blending session."
Crushpad requires a minimum investment of one barrel or roughly $5,000 with one barrel yielding 25 cases of wine. If your cellar isn't large enough for 300 bottles of wine, you can share the cost and the cases with friends, or swap your wine with others on the winery's social network.
Dorrance insisted that bottle for bottle, because Crushpad has eliminated the retailer and distributor, the actual cost is almost 50 percent less to the customer.
"And the experience you get is priceless," he said.
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