The Kitten’s Crushpad Adventure

Hold on to your hats everyone, The Kitten is considering something big. Mighty big. Well, to us, at least. And we decided that as we are finishing our research and fretting the details a bit, we would let you in on the secret so you can hold our hands (or paws) through the process. There’s a lot of expertise out there in our readership and we’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions as we proceed.

So, here goes…(drumroll, please)…We are currently in conversation with Crushpad, a unique winery in Sonoma, to create our very own Thirsty Kitten Wine. (please do a little happy dance now) Yes, we might well have our very own Thirsty Kitten release by this fall, a delectable wine that would not only fill our own cellar, but could be purchased by the rest of the world, as well. (by “the rest of the world,” we mean you, if you are over 21! you can do the happy dance again now)

Crushpad is an unusual winery. Yes, it has state-of-the-art facilities, like many wineries. Yes, it has talented wine makers on staff. Yes, it is in the heart of Northern California wine country. But here’s where it’s very different– it produces no wine of its own. Instead, it helps others– from novices to experts– to make wines under their own labels. So in essence, Crushpad is a lot of little wineries under one roof. Crushpad founder Michael Brill calls it “the democratizing of wine production.”

Basically, Crushpad takes the heavy lifting out of the wine process, making entry into the complex and expensive world of winemaking much more manageable for “little guys,” like us. They purchase leftover grapes from vineyards with impeccable pedigrees, then sell those grapes by the barrel to buyers who want to make their own wine using Crushpad’s facilities. Some who use Crushpad are groups of friends having fun sharing their passion for wine and creating something together while they learn about the process. Others are experienced winemakers who choose Crushpad because of its facilities and access to grapes, saving on huge capital expenditures up front as they launch and grow their brand.

We’ve been following Crushpad for quite a few years now, intrigued with the concept and always saying we might like to give it a try ourselves one day. “One day” never comes unless you make it happen, so we finally decided to start exploring the possibility in earnest. We are now reading through the legal end of things to make sure we know exactly what we’d be committing to, but already have our eyes on a barrel of wine that we are pretty excited about. It comes from a wine region we adore (see previous posts for clues) and is a varietal we absolutely adore, as well.

In order to accomplish a fall release, we be shortcutting the typical Crushpad process by “adopting” a barrel of wine already harvested, aged and ready for bottling. Being on the novice end of the wine making process, we would happily rely on the expertise of Crushpad’s in-house winemakers, whose talents have helped an impressive number of Crushpad hosted wines to receive scores of 90 points or better from publications like Wine Enthusiast and Wine Spectator. We’d still have time to taste the wine in barrel and express preferences about the last steps before bottling, like whether to blend our grapes or release a pure varietal from the single vineyard source.

We’ll keep you posted as we finalize our plans and we invite you to chime in with your thoughts as we go.  So today, our toast is to “the democratizing of wine production,” to taking leaps of faith into new endeavors, and to all of you for holding our hands on this journey!

10 replies »

  1. Awesome!!! Will certainly want to try the wine at some point……Hope all is well with you guys!!

  2. Very cool guys! Crushpad is a great way to break in to “the biz”. Cartograph Winery in Healdsburg is a winery that comes to mind that started through Crushpad. I’ll be following your progress with great interest–my dream is to start a winery someday–and I wish you both the best of luck!!

  3. Thanks, all, for your enthusiasm and support! Nick, we especially appreciate knowing about Cartograph and will check them out to see what they’ve done. Glad to know you are a kindred spirit! Cheers to everyone!

  4. Dear TK – sounds like a barrel of fun (bad, i know…). love the venture and adventure. all for it, and know it will bear good fruit and purr like a kitten and smell like a rose. and drink like an irishman. ok, not that last one :)

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