Meeting wine country

Team Building At Meeting In Wine Country-A Corp. Private Label Wine

Most wine drinkers have that mental image of that perfect 100 point wine that is perfect with your favorite foods as well as for casual sipping with friends.  It might be a red or a white, whatever the varietal; it can make your taste buds explode just thinking about it. But the one reality that keeps you from fulfilling that perfect image is: I want to make the wine myself, to my specifications, with my own label.  But wait, you don’t own a winery!

Without some training in viticulture, chemistry, a working knowledge of barrel characteristics, fermentation, yeasts, blending with varietals, and being able of precisely articulate what aromas and taste profiles you want in a wine, a want-a-be winemaker is at a terrible disadvantage.  But, the real disadvantage is not having a winery facility to crush, filter, ferment, house storage tanks, barrel storage, a lab to monitor the progress of the wine, and then bottle and distribute your fine wine.

Not to be discouraged, for there is a source in Wine Country to give you virtually unlimited options in your quest for your own perfect wine with your own label.  Winemakers are at your beck-and- call to make sure it is as your vision dictated at the very beginning.  Further, what if you wanted to get that wine on the wine lists at fine restaurants in your area?  Maybe your vision is to give a case of you custom wine to friends as a gift.  All of the nuances and the impact of expanding dreams for your wine have a few sources to help you fulfill those dreams.

One very capable organization that can help make any oenophiles’ dreams reality is The Wine Foundry in the heart of Napa Valley.  After a meeting with Sharath Chandra-Director of Marketing and a tour of their facility, aka their winery, one cannot but have a burning desire to go for it and make some wine.  In a facility of 30,000 sq. ft. every imaginable piece of equipment and intellectual capability is available to anyone wanting to make wine; of which they made 13,000 cases  for distribution in 2014.  This is from a full blown commercial effort to developing a private label wine for private consumption.  With wine aficionado’s opting to take advantage of top end facilities and winemaking talent The Wine Foundry has customers in 20 states including, MA, TX, FL and obviously CA.  They have also have helped develop wines for international customers in China, Japan and Finland.

Most oenophiles recognize that good wine starts in the vineyard and each varietal has a terroir that is best for that grape. “As a start we work with 30-40 vineyards around Northern California to source the best fruit for our clients and in some cases our clients source their own fruit for their wine,” say Sharath Chandra.  The vineyards The Wine Foundry sources from are big names in the wine industry.  One is Stagecoach Vineyards whose fruit produces consistent 94 and 96 point wines year after year.

Over the past 4 years The Wine Foundry has acquired wineries, equipment and very talented people to help their clients attain their wine dreams no matter the level of client experience or high lofty their ambitions in the wine business.  “We have domestic and international legal expertise, design staff, marketing talent to consult with the client; the same skills that are needed in a large wine operation,” commented Sharath.  Winemaking is available to anyone with a vision to start the process.  No prior experience is necessary.

There seems to be 4 basic approaches by custom winemakers available to anyone wanting to get started.  The starting point is where the wine lover developes a document that concisely articulates what are the goals.  For example:

  • Is it to be a commercial effort to market and sell your wine creation or for private consumption and gifts.
  • Would the effort be part of a corporate branding effort, for example, a manufacturing company?
  • What quantities are required?
  • Is there a need for a white and red wine?
  • What are the profiles desired in the wine?
  • How much time is the client prepared to spend over the next 2 years to be involved in the winemaking process?
  • Most importantly, what is the budget?

Some people wanting to develop their own wine bring tasting notes or even bottles of a vintage they want to replicate to the planning meeting.  These meetings tend to start in early summer as the fruit is starting veraison stage and the season is taking shape.

Option One-The most inclusive program available to the new winemaker/client who has visions of selling their new wine creation is – Distributive Commerce.  Utilizing such a program affords the client an all-inclusive commerce oriented approach to making the private labeled wine and getting it into the market.  The Wine Foundry offers such a program that allows the client to use The Wine Foundry’s licenses,  legal staff, marketing  expertise, fruit sourcing contracts, winemaking skills and winery facilities to get a new wine produced and into the market; best described as a “turn-key” consultative approach.

A Distributive Commerce program will allow you to take full advantage of industry experience from fruit selection, blending, trademark searches, label design, back-room administrative requirements, website design and the all important function of reaching out to distribution sources.

Now the all important question: What will this cost, at a minimum?  Short answer is, commit to 2 barrels of you wine (25 cases per barrel) and don’t go crazy with your label design, you are probably going to be looking at a Cabernet Sauvignon at $42 per bottle and a Chardonnay at $16 per bottle.  But beware; it could go higher by $3.00 per bottle.  Bottom-line, 25 cases of a nice Cabernet Sauvignon will be $12,000 and a Chardonnay will be $5,500.  To be on the safe side estimate marketing materials, website, shipping, tastings, etc. to add an additional $3,000 the first year.  For red wines allow 1.5 years to get your creation into a bottle and less than one year for your white wine.

Option Two-A Private Label approach is a cost effective way to produce a custom blended wine for personal use and as corporate and personal gifts.  The profile characteristics can be very high-end , it just can’t be sold or used in public tastings.

The requirement is one barrel and that will cost from $5,000 to $12,000 for 25 cases of wine and the client as the luxury of being involved in the total experience; from crush to blending to bottling. “A client is welcome to come by the winery and talk to the winemaker and see how the wine is developing,” said Sharath.  The Wine Foundry even has tastings with clients that cannot make it to Napa during the process.  A client review tasting via Skype is not unsual.  Of course the sample wine is sent to the client in advance.

Option Three-If you want to try the process to see if it is for you, find a custom winery that will allow you to taste existing wines and if you find one you like ask for a Custom Label to be designed; now you have your own names or message on a nice bottle of wine. This approach is a great program for birthday gifts, weddings, Valentine’s Day and corporate events.  You can start with just one bottle pulse label printing and design costs.

The Wine Foundry says they have clients that have wines in the Commerce program that retail for $250.00 per bottle.  However, generally the wines most clients’ retail range from $25.00 to $150 per bottle for a white and red wine respectively.  A nice Cabernet Sauvignon with The Wine Foundry label retail at the winery for $80.00 per bottle.

Wine is a food that has captured the imagination of people long before Christ.  However, wine will not tolerate the faint of heart or the timid. If you want to make wine you will learn how unforgiving Mother Nature may be and how cold her heart may be from year to year. You will learn to trust others with vastly more experience.  In the end, if you make wine for money or pleasure, you dreams and finances are still riding on your own decisions.