On more than one occasion I've wandered into the world of wine making projects where the 'winemakers' don't have to invest a lot of money - they just need an awful lot of enthusiasm. One of these is Crushpad.
Crushpad operates as a kind of a self help knowledge based winery where all you need to do is to turn up with some money and tell the good folk what sort of wine you would like to 'make'. They will then devise a wine making plan. This will cover everything from sourcing the grapes for you (before they have even begun to grow) all the way to barrel type and length of ageing etc. You can even design your own lable! Then you sit back and watch from a distance or get your hands dirty and get involved. It looks great.
|An Irish Vineyard - Longueville House, Mallow, Co Cork|
Then there's the garagistes. Ah, now this is where I feel more at home. I don't know why.. Maybe I reckon this is the loner. This is the guy who explores the outer reaches and comes home to tell the tale. Romantic? Sure, isn't that what wines are all about......
The term 'garagiste' refers to winemakers who set up a small winery, often in a garage, and set about making a wine according to a strong winemaking philosophy. So they might equally be referred to as micro wineries, protest wineries or even geek wineries! As with everything it all depends on how the wine turns out! Thus the extraordinary Chateau le Pin may be a garagiste in Pomerol as might Red Hook Winery in Brooklyn!
I have never visited Red Hook Winery and I have not tasted any of their wines but I love their story. Take the following extract from Food and Wine magazine, " At most wineries, the winemaker isn’t likely to get run over by a bus. But not long ago at Brooklyn’s new Red Hook Winery, Robert Foley was forklifting a bin of grapes down the street when a city bus appeared from around the corner and came straight at him. “I see the driver, and he’s looking at me like, what are you doing?” Foley recalls. “But he stopped. And I say, ‘Hey! I’m forking here!’ ” Located in Brooklyn’s rough-and-tumble Red Hook area—in a ramshackle factory that was a turn-of-the-century bordello—Red Hook Winery is the most unexpected example yet of the urban winemaking trend.
Urban Wine Making Trend. Doesn't that have an alluring ring to it? But where would we get the grapes from? Red Hook is lucky that it can source its grapes from nearby Long Island. Close is good. It not only allows you to oversee the quality of the grapes as they grow but you get to know the grape growers and so influence the style of grape that you actually need. Close to source also allows you to transport the harvested grape in premium condition with a great deal of speed to the winery.
Excuses. Excuses. There's a winery in Alaska! Surely arranging transport is only a logistical thing and gets you over the hump of having to use inferior and expensive home grown grapes. Look at the Australians. Don't they transport grapes thousands of kilometres?
How much would all this cost? Could we get it together in Dublin? Well, that depends on how many people are involved? A Club? mmmm Not sure.
Years ago the brothers and myself ran The Vintage Off Licences. Up until about 1990 we sold oodles of wine making kits and the equipment to go along with them. At the time noone seemed to think there was anything inheranty wrong with at least trying to make your own wine. Surely the same philosophy applies to the garagiste? Have a look at Red Hook and look further into Brooklyn wine making via the Brooklyn Winery.
Anything is possible. That's the way to look at 2011.
Happy New Year folks.