It seems paradoxical that there are thousands of brands with “Napa” on the label and only about 450 wineries in Napa Valley, but the truth is that you don’t need a winery to launch a successful wine brand. The practice of using custom crush facilities and collectives has been flourishing for quite some time now, but companies like Crushpad are starting to take it to the next level.
Crushpad began in 2004 by offering access to top-notch equipment, grapes from over 50 vineyards, and experienced winemaking support (also provided by other custom crush facilities) and expanded in 2006 with “Crushpad Commerce," which takes care of all the paperwork and licensing required of a new wine brand (like starting the company, defining a business model, and dealing with all of the complicated steps associated with the Alcoholic Beverage Control). And just last month, they launched their Crushpad Syndicate crowd-funding tool, which functions much like Kickstarter to give aspiring winemakers the tools necessary to raise capital for their fledgling brands. "Custom crush and things like Crushpad are great because starting a winery or building a tasting room is outrageously expensive and impossible for most people and this presents a realistic way to get things started. It helps but reduce the risk," says Ciara Meaney of Aldrich Browne.
“To say that it's been a labor of love is an understatement. Matthiasson has received many accolades and we've worked hard on sales, but we have not been willing to take the time away from the family to do the traveling necessary to make big inroads in some important markets. I know a lot of great wines that go unsold and a lot of mediocre wines that sell like crazy. Marketing is key!”
-Jill Matthiasson, Matthiasson
“For a consumer who loves wine and didn’t grow up in the industry, things like Crushpad allow them to act out a dream and treat it like a business. But this is not an “if you build it, they will come kind of situation” as there is whole world to compete with and it’s just not good enough to make a great wine anymore. The lessons that you learn in the cellar and on the street will still need to be learned one way or another.”
-Nick Floulis, Pushback Winery
"You have to remember that wine is constantly evolving from start to finish and the slightest thing can affect its expression. From harvest to the bottle, the juice evolves and changes so much, and continues to do so until you pop the cork and enjoy a glass."
-Brett Shors of Accro Wines