Saturday, April 09, 2005

The Urban Winery - are you ready?

Everybody enjoys a tour through wine country. The ambiance, the wine, the people. But sometimes you can't get away as often as you'd like. Now the winery is coming to you, right in the heart of the city.

In San Francisco, a new winery called Crushpad has opened in an old mayonnaise plant and is meeting with resounding success. BC residents and other jurisdictions are familiar with U-brews and U-vins but this is nothing like that. This is premium and ultra premium wine makingin a community setting. This is a full-fledged licensed winery, producing their own proprietary labels and inviting the public to participate in the process every step of the way.

An individual or group (a group is more fun) walks in and starts by selecting the grapes and style of wine they would like. Wine makers on staff guide your endeavor every step of the way. It's a hands on experience - you can expect to get a little dirty and to put in some time. It's also popular with wine makers who can't afford the capital for their own free-standing winery and restaurants that would like to produce their own upscale house brand.

If you think your stuff has got the right stuff, they'll help you go to the market with full post-production support.

Crushpad has quickly evolved into more than a storefront production facility. People are using it for kind of a hang-out. They drop into see what's fermenting, talk wine with the pros and fellow amateurs and just generally soak up the vibe.

People are even making their own private brands long distance. Their website highlights a group in Missouri that calls in their instructions to one of the staff wine makers. In the end, they'll have a premium California wine without leaving home.

This isn't about getting the cheapest wine your can. There's a 25 case minimum and the cost runs anywhere from $13 to $20 a bottle. This is pretty much in line with your average winery prices for premium and ultra-premium wine.

If you're happy with drinking plonk from a kit made at the strip mall, then carry on. If not, let's hope somebody seizes the opportunity and brings this concept to the urban areas of BC.


An American Dante said...

Wow, that is really interesting. I never would have thought that a winery could survive in the city. How do they grow the grapes, or are they brought in?

Bradley Cooper, Winemaker said...

That's right, they truck in the grapes. Napa and Sonoma counties are only about 1.5 to 3 hours away from SF. You can pick the grapes at 6 AM and crush 'em downtown by NOON.