Oh no you say! Not another “do it yourself” urban winery! Ok, I’d have to agree – that was my first reaction when I got the press release about Dogpatch Wine Works. Since Crushpad abandoned their urban winery projects and effectively dumped its consumer based wine program after its move to Napa (and subsequent move to Sonoma Valley), I’ve had a bit of a bad taste in my mouth for community crush projects.
But, Dave Gifford’s email intrigued me. A Crushpad alum, Dave knows first hand how to (and frankly, how NOT to) do an urban custom crush operation. Moving in a scant block down from Crushpad’s former headquarters on 3rd Street in San Francisco, Dogpatch now operates a 15,000 square foot urban winery with a missing “to enable wine enthusiasts to realize their passion for all things wine”. I’m hoping that this enthusiasm is somewhat more friendly than Crushpad’s seeming lackadaisical consumer program. As a former Crushpad customer, I got to know them well as I wandered through three winemaking projects with a group of wineaux. If you’re super nice I might let you come over for a tasting of the zin, cab blend, and freshly minted BeezleBubblez! I got to know the team well, and in fact, and pleased to see former head winemaker Mike Zitzlaff joining the Dogpatch crew.
While I fully understand the economics of operating a micro winery and custom crush, a good business plan requires you to commit and focus on your core audience. A business bill yourself as a “community based winery”, then you need to be…well, community based. Crushpad’s failing was that they lost focus and weren’t interested in pursing the consumer base. The primary goal was to be a custom crush and attract premier winery partners. That’s fine, but please don’t tell me you care about me and send me an email halfway through the full winemaking cycle that says “oh hey yeah we moved to Napa”. Please note these opinons are NOT AT ALL reflective of any experience with DPWW, simply my observatoins as a disgruntled Crushpad customer.
Anyway…back to Dogpatch Wine Works. Taking a note from Crushpad’s premium vineyard plans, DPWW allows you to choose from terrific grapes including – I’m very happy to report – Windsor Oaks Pinot Noir. Hey Julie, you ROCK! As a big fan of Windsor Oaks fruit, this could yield some interesting stuff. Add in the requisite equipment, a bonded winery, and expertise (yeah well ok so I didn’t go to Davis and chemistry isn’t my strong suit so Mike, i NEED you!), you hopefully have – a winery in a box, in a fun urban environment. Some additional vineyard offerings are Sonoma Coast Pinot, Atlas Peak Cab, and Anderson Valley Pinot. Ohh AV pinot? Count me in!
All of these seems familiar, and I get a buzz of excitement that the beast is alive. The goal of community based wineries is to allow you, for a fee (well yeah they need to make money) to participate from head to toe in the winemaking process. Theoretically, you will learn a lot, have fun, and get purple with it. Oh, and you get wine when you’re done!~ Yay!
One feature that Crushpad was missing whilst in the city was a tasting room, where we could actually TASTE some examples of wine they produced. While in Napa, they did indeed have a microwinery tasting room, but well, it was in Napa. This alone will add a unique feature which will be a draw; while there is a wine bar in Dogpatch (Yield) a tasting room is going to add interest and attract visitors.
Giving Crushpad it’s due, some of my favorite brands were launched there. I just wish they had been clear about their goals from the start.
I salute you Dave, for being willing to revisit a space that Crushpad
screwed up abandoned, and taking on the challenge with a renewed focus. This a huge space and one that I see a lot of potential in; avid wine lovers want to learn and experience the full lifecycle. This is how we can do it. Please check out Dogpatch Wine Works if you’re in the city – I know I will be! I am starting to think I might need to make some more wine…Pinot anyone?
**Wordpress ate my homework** I’m sorry to say that 2 of my best paragraphs ran away. arrrgh! I will repost if I remember them. Yes, yes, I know. Write in Word, archive, paste. Bugger.