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Crushpad Wines

Anyone have any experience making, or even tasting, wines from the Crushpad "custom crush" facility? When I first read about this, it sounded like just a pricey gimmick for people with too much money, but not enough to go out and buy their own vineyard or winery.

I took a look at their website, and the list of vineyards from which they procure grapes is pretty darn impressive - Alder Springs, Brosseau, Wentzel, Kiona, Klipsun, To Kalon, Eaglepoint Ranch, Stolpman, Teldeschi ...

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  1. Several of the highly regarded Pinot Noirs that I buy on allocation are from vinters who started out at Crushpad. Loring, Dain, AP Vin, etc. While the quality of wine depends so much on the winemaker, don't think that there isn't great wine being made there.

    1. I think exploring wine blending is really the next step in understanding the individual nuances of various terroirs and varietals. I went to a wine blending seminar given at a local wine shop--really cool to talk with the winemaker and learn about how he puts his blends together. I've looked into Crushpad, but thought it was just too expensive and too large of quantities. Something like this wine blending kit looks like a more reasonable start to me before I invest in the full Crushpad experience: http://wineshop.justgrapes.net/istar....

      1. I haven't personally tasted anything produced from CrushPad, but I've talked to a few people who are currently making wines and I've talked to and received more details information from one of the CrushPad account managers (Dave).

        My goal (along with a group of friends/investors) for this year is to make a small batch of CA syrah. Preferably, I would like to have one of my winemaker friends act as a "consultant" so a) I will have sound advice and b) quality vineyards will actually sell little ol' me grapes.

        However, although Crushpad is somewhat pricey and isn't local enough for me, it's my second choice if my first plan does not work out. It's a great concept and you can truly be as active in the process as you choose. If you live in San Fran area, that's ideal; unfortunately, they have no plans to open a facility in the LA area.

        2 Replies
        1. re: vinosnob

          They are opening a facility in Bordeaux, of all places, so the wine made there can be called Bordeaux.
          I went to a wine tasting and ran into one of the winemakers. Seemed pretty knowledgeable. They buy the grapes and I think you're stuck with the grapes they buy. I think part of what you're paying for is their knowledge of wine making.

          1. re: SteveTimko

            How was the wine? That's the main point. I'd imagine that having to deal with so many batches of wine and interacting with so many different people their skills must be quite well honed

        2. The Cellar Rat has been doing a series for over a year now following his winemaking experience at Crushpad. It starts (sorta) here: http://www.cellarrat.org/archives/200...

          and is ongoing.

          1. Well, I understand that it is a great experience and that they are building a facility in the Northwest and then in New York. From what they say the final per-bottle cost should be competitive ( about $ 15,00/20,00) with wines of comparable quality.
            We really should find someone who's worked with them and can relay more precise info

            1. One of the problems in working with a custom-crush facility is that fermentation tanks
              are on a tight schedule -- and that means a fermentation has to happen quickly. Fast fermentations generally are a bad thing -- the grapes don't have a long soak, and generally are done at higher temperatures -- not a cold soak -- and long, cold soaks are what produce great flavor. Custom-crush operations gallop the fermentations along, and the wine is robbed of potential. The exception is if you are willing to pay for extra soak time, or if you are a winemaker with some sway.

              And, in the case of Crushpad, you are only able to crush (from what I understand) grapes they have picked and the vineyards they have access to. I doubt there is much To-Kalon to go around.

              I'd love to hear from someone who has actually used Crushpad to create a batch of wine, and the process, pros and cons.

              5 Replies
              1. re: maria lorraine

                The impression I've gotten is that commercial accounts can use grapes from wherever they buy them at Crushpad. Their non-commercial 'starter' programs are limited to their own fruit sources. I took a quick look at their vineyard list and it's nothing to 'sneeze' at. It may also be that they will do whatever you're willing to pay for.

                I had occasion to speak with David Dain a while ago and he was on his cell at Crushpad at the time. Young uber-winegeek/online genius Gary Vaynerchuk has also started a program there for his customers to 'custom' make a cab with him.

                Looks like the thing to do these days. Recession???

                1. re: Midlife

                  The vineyard sources Crushpad has access to are good...but you will pay accordingly.

                  I looked into doing something at Crushpad, but once I started exploring the world in-depth, I found that you're paying a HIGH premium for the "one-stop-shop" nature of Crushpad.

                  Ultimately, I found a way to get access to premium fruit and a facility in the Central Coast, and my final cost will be about 1/4 to 1/3 the barrel cost of having used a similar fruit-source at Crushpad. Granted, I have some connections to winemakers so this made tracking down the elements and putting everything together a bit easier.

                  Also, since I'm based in LA, this arrangement is more convenient for me than using a SF facility.

                  1. re: olivethegreat

                    Are you using the crush facility in Santa Maria or Paso Robles or somewhere else?

                    1. re: vinosnob

                      actually lucky enough to be using a winery facility in the lompoc ghetto...

                      1. re: olivethegreat

                        Sounds good; hmmm, which winery could it be? I opted for a crush facility in Camarillo; cheaper than crushpad and obviously much closer to LA

              2. Have friends who are winemaking through Crushpad. I went to one of the open houses in NYC last spring and tasted various barrel samples. Wine Spectator (TV) was there to interview one of the winemakers (little guys) who have been rated by them recently. Sadly, I cannot remember who the heck it was and none of his wine was there to sample as he had sold it all through Crushpad after the rating came out. (It was a husband and wife team)

                Barrel samples I had in NY last spring were good, but without a marketing machine, I wondered how they would command the $40+ per bottle price tag through the online store. The Pinot Noirs were hot, but I wasn't impressed. (Yes, I know they were barrel samples) The CA reds were all pretty nice, some were going to be really good. I spoke with one of the grape growers that sells some of her grapes to Crushpad and she uses them to bottle some of her own grapes.

                Cost works out to be about $20-$25 per bottle, which is fine for the wine you are drinking...if you are keeping it in house and REALLY like that wine, as you are committing to drinking it or gifting it for awhile if you aren't selling the stuff through the Crushpad online store front.

                My friends are paying premium dollar for 2 barrels out of California, they've been out to the facility 2 times during the process to check things out. Will report back if I get hear anything new and interesting.

                Cheers!

                2 Replies
                1. re: winechic

                  We have been producing wine through Crushpad since 2005. Started with a single barrel (already in the barrel) Alder Springs Chard and have grown to 2 barrels of Chard, 1 barrel of Pinot Noir, 2 barrels of Zinfandel, 2 barrels of Cab and 1 barrel of a Rhone. The gotcha is licensing and distribution if you plan to build a wine business. We own a restaurant with a full 47 license and are able to carry the wine on our wine list and sell out of the restaurant. We decided to produce wine under a different label than the restaurant name to eventually separate the businesses. If you do not hold a liquor license, brokers license or have access to a distribution network you may face legal challenges selling the wine produced or are locked into paying for CrushPad Commerce. The quality of the wine really depends upon the quality of the fruit and the winemaker. Our winemaker is very skilled and independent of CrushPad. Our chard has won Silver at the Fingerlakes International Wine Competition 3 years in a row, the Pino took a bronze this year. Both our Zin and Cab took gold this year. We are looking at other higher production options as we continue to grow since we can not seem to get fruit from the same vineyard each year for our cab, thus making it difficult to produce a consistent product. Can you provide some info on the facility in Camarillo? Finally, I am happy to share our experiences through the entire process.

                  1. re: ebeddow

                    Here's an article about the vintners in Ventura including the wine maker (Norm Stafford) from Camarillo Custom Crush.

                    http://www.venturacountystar.com/news...

                    The Camarillo facility offers the same grapes to bottle program that CrushPad offers, but at a much more reasonable price. However, CCC doesn't have the pedigree of consulting wine makers nor the same access to notable vineyard sources.

                    I decided to work with CCC primarily because of it's close proximity to Los Angeles which will allow me to be heavily involved in all facets of production. Plus, the wine maker is a great guy and makes solid wines.

                    Email me at beej74@yahoo.com if you want more info

                2. At first look, I thought it would be fun to participate, but since I live on the East Coast, and they're west, my possibilities are minimal, at best.

                  I have a good friend who's making wine in Sonoma, so I decided that if I want to "make my own," I'll go out sometime and "help" Mac! Otherwise, I will be "the best purchaser!"

                  1. I am currently making wine there and I love it. It's best if you are local, because you can be hands on. If you don't mind being a distance learner, then it's still a good experience but there are small custom crush operations popping up all over as personal winemaking gains traction among the drinking public.

                    It's actually not that expensive when you balance out the cost of sourcing grapes, education and facilities. Our wine this year is $26/btl which is cheaper than a lot of premium brands in wine country, and I know exactly what it tastes like and what goes in to it.

                    You have three options
                    1 - become a part of a group and buy in futures in case lots
                    2 - buy a ton of grapes and make your own wine (makes roughly 25 cases give or take)
                    3 - adopt a partially finished barrel if you are too late for harvest

                    If you are local, they host events that allow you to check it out more closely. Good luck!

                    1. The Bordeaux facility mentioned in the earlier comments just opened today. We're working with some very high profile names and vineyards in Bordeaux with winemaking taking place at Chateau Teyssier in St Emilion.

                      http://www.crushpadwine.fr

                      1. I met a guy in Lodi who mentioned an alternative to Crushpad, also in SF, but he couldn't remember the name. Does anyone know about another winemaking facility in San Francisco? Thanks,
                        Allyson

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