Crushing it in Dogpatch


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?

Cheers!

 

**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.

 

 

Happenings!

Spring has sprung, and summer is starting to show glimpses.  A side effect of this season, is that there is a plethora of wine events going on in May and June.  A few of the highlights in the next few weeks are:

Tuesday May 11th, the Rose Avengers and Producers (RAP) hosts thier annual Pink Out celebration in San Francisco.  From 6:30 – 8:30pm, the celebration of all wines pink features an extensive walk around tasting of 40 wines, still & sparkling, as well as some tasty appetizers.  This event does sell out (sorry for the late notice!) and tickets can be purchased online for $35 or if any are left, for $45 at the door.  For those of you who can’t make it in person, TasteLive is hosting an online tasting forum with the Mutineer Magazine crew.

Have you ever been to a tasting room with 20 wineries?  Well, ok there are more and more coop tasting rooms out there, but how about one housed in a custom crush facility?  For those of who are less familiar with the winemaking minutia, a custom crush facility is a place where many wineries / labels can use the same equipment, share costs, and share space.  Vinify Wine Services is one of these meccas for up and coming cult wines, in Santa Rosa.  It’s housed some of the best botique wines in Sonoma County over the past few years, and many more to come.  As the nature of the beast goes, you use a place like this for as long as you need, but then you might outgrow it and use your own facilities for various reasons.

On May 23rd, VINIFY IS HOSTING their annual Open House.  This is a rare opportunity for the public to enjoy some 20 labels of delicious juice, for the bargain price of $20 (including a fancy glass).  There will be over 40 wines, and you will have the chance to meet the winemakers, bottlewashers, and salespeople – being the same person – in an intimate setting.  I hope to see you there to taste some of the following:

  • Baker Lane
  • Bevan Cellars
  • Bjornstad Cellars
  • Lattanzio Winery
  • Pfendler Vineyards
  • Sojourn Cellars
  • Westerhold Family Vineyards
  • Calluna Vineyard
  • Jemrose Vineyard
  • Barbed Oak Vineyards
  • Claypool Cellars
  • Desmond Wines
  • Frostwatch Vineyard and Winery
  • Olsen Ogden Wines – a personal favorite of mine
  • Gracianna Winery
  • Cinque Insieme Wines
  • Suacci Carciere Wines

Vinfiy Wine Services is located at 3358 Coffey Lane, Suite D in Santa Rosa.  Tickets should be purchased in advance at Local Wine Events and you can reach them at 707-495-4959

On June 5th & 6th Sunset Magazine Celebration Weekend will have several expanded wine seminars and sessions.

  • With the Glam Camping Compound at the heart of the festivities, Sara Schneider could suggest her favorite bottles for the ultimate “glamping” trip (more details here: http://www.sunset.com/marketplace/camp-glam-00400000066902/)
  • Expanded wine seminars, including tours through the wines of Washington, Southern Oregon and California’s Central Coast (these always sell out!)
  • A sneak peek at Savor the Central Coast, Sunset’s new food & wine event that will be held Sept. 30-Oct. 3 in San Luis Obispo County

The Celebration runs all weekend from 10am to 5pm, and admission is $16.  Wine Seminars are $10 each, and you can sign up at the event.  Susnet is located at 80 Willow Road Menlo Park, CA 94025, schedules and info can be found HERE


Also on June 5th, the Tempranillo Advocates Prodcuers and Amigos Society (TAPAS) is hosting their annual tasting at Ft Mason.  TAPAS is the most extensive annual tasting of domestically produced Spanish and Portuguese varietal wines in North America, and the annual tasting is a great time to taste wines produced by TAPAS members from grape varieties indigenous to Spain and Portugal that are now cultivated in America, in a delightful walk-around setting where they may chat with the TAPAS growers and producers. These new and delightful domestic wines originate in Arizona, California, Oregon, Texas, and Washington, and range from crisp, refreshing whites, through big full-bodied reds, to elegant port style wines. This is a unique opportunity to sample wines made from varieties like Tempranillo, Albariño, Garnacha, Graciano, Mourvedre, Touriga, Verdelho, Bastardo and more. Many of our members are limited-production, boutique wineries whose wines are not generally available in stores.

The consumer tasting will run from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.  Consumer tickets are available at tapas2010.eventbrite.com for $35, or $200 for a pack of 10.  Bring your friends!  There will be many hard to find wines at this event.