Sebastiani Vineyards, Bill Foley, welcome Crushpad to Sonoma
SEBASTIANI VINEYARDS in Sonoma will be sharing part of its facilities with Crushpad, who is moving from Napa effective April 30.
By Bill Lynch
Sonoma's Sebastiani Vineyards and Winery, which was acquired by Bill Foley of Foley Family Wines in 2009, has reached an agreement with Crushpad, a company founded by Michael Brill that specializes in making small lots of wine for independent customers, including small commercial producers, to move Brill's operation from Napa to Sonoma by the end of this month.
The production facility and offices will begin their move virtually immediately to be followed later this year by the opening of a tasting bar, which Brill describes as "wine tasting meets Exploratorium." In addition to the wine sampling bar where customers can taste wines made by more than 100 Crushpad commercial clients, there will be demonstration and wine-dispensing kiosks where visitors can use self-administered, multi-media tour/demonstrations and tutorials on the wine making process while actually tasting the wine. Expert wine hosts will be available to elaborate and enhance that experience, Brill added.
Until the tasting room is open however, Brill and staff have a lot of moving and setting up to do, just to get the operation moving in Sonoma.
Crushpad has hundreds of wine-making clients, half of them at the "consumer" level making (with Crushpad's assistance) a barrel of wine (about 25 cases). The other half of Brill's clients are small commercial operations that produce between 50 and 500 cases per year. These are the ones whose wine can be sampled once the new tasting room opens here. Whether the customer is consumer-sized or small commercial, each has access to a full range of Crushpad's wine making assistance, coaching, and actual wine making from choosing the vineyard and time of picking, to blending, aging, bottling and label design. For somewhere between $6,000 and $10,000 anyone can actually make their own wine, with Crushpad's help of course.
Sebastiani Winemaker, Mark Lyon, said that a currently unused section of the Sebastiani fermentation cellars, built in 2006, will be leased to Crushpad, which will bring in its own small batch wine making equipment including (half ton) fermenters, crushers, de-stemmers, presses, etc.
In addition, Crushpad will lease a portion of the adjacent barrel aging room, as well as a significant portion of the offices located in what was Sebastiani Vineyards' corporate headquarters.
Although the operations are completely separate and Crushpad will not actually use any of Sebastiani's wine-making equipment, Crushpad will be using Sebastiani's union workers for all of the cellar work as required by the union contract. This will mean more employment opportunities, Lyon added.
In the meantime, Sebastiani Vineyards is busy producing more than 200,000 cases of its own wine, plus handling bottling for some of Foley's other labels, plus doing contract bottling and other wine-related work for Don Sebastiani and Sons, Castle Rock and others.
The Crushpad move to Sonoma is accompanied by a major financing deal that includes Foley Family Wines, the parent company to Sebastiani, as a principal investor in Crushpad.
Crushpad will continue to offer its clients the option of making wine in Napa Valley in the facility of longtime partner, Bin to Bottle.
“Crushpad has a culture of staying innovative and creative, from our wine-making team with experience making a wide range of wine styles, to our continued investment in internet technology that makes the wine-making process accessible to those near and far,” commented Brill. “This move to Sebastiani will allow us to further refine our wine-making processes to produce even more phenomenal wines, while giving our clients the opportunity to showcase their brands to tens of thousands of Sonoma tourists at our new tasting bar, opening later this year.”
The new tasting bar, like the production facilities, will be occupying space virtually next to Sebastiani's own operation, in what is now called the "Sonoma Room," but will be completely separate, with its own staff and own entrance. “We plan to have a series of fun wine education stations in our new facility that integrate touch-screens and wine dispenser technology, creating an immersive experience that teaches wine enthusiasts about all elements of wine making,” continued Brill. “The new facility will also allow us to offer even more of our exceptional wine blending and sensory analysis classes."
”Crushpad’s winery has produced micro-production luxury wines that have received high praise and mid-ninety scores from such publications as Wine Spectator and Wine Advocate. Their recently published 2011 Vineyard List includes famed cool-climate sites such as Durrell Vineyard on the Sonoma Coast, renowned Bordeaux varietal sites such as Stagecoach Vineyard on Pritchard Hill, and cult-worthy Rhone varietal sites such as the White Hawk Vineyard in Santa Barbara County.
The full list of vineyards is available to view at www.crushpadwine.com/vineyardlist and interested customers can contact Crushpad’s Michael Brill at email@example.com or by calling (415) 902-7097.