(ARA) – The popularity of wine in the United States is at an all-time high. In fact, the U.S. surpassed France as the largest wine-consuming nation in 2010, with wine shipments across the U.S. – coming from California, other states and foreign producers – at nearly 330 million cases, a record high for the industry. And, in 2010 the per capita total wine consumption was 2.54 gallons – more than one case.
With more people developing interest in a carefully cultivated wine and food lifestyle, a new trend is emerging: consumers creating their very own vintage. Take Bob Mollica from Boston, who recently bottled his 2009 Lodi Cabernet Sauvignon.
“It’s always been a dream to have my own wine,” says Mollica. “I wanted to find a way to create a California wine to enjoy and share with friends while continuing my day job here in Boston.”
That dream is now a reality. He uses Estate Crush, a Lodi, Calif.-based custom crush winery that oversees the entire winemaking process.
Estate Crush provides clients a seamless experience from start – sourcing fruit from reputable growers – to finish. The end product is a bottled wine complete with a personalized label.
Grapes are harvested and taken into the winery where they are prepared for primary fermentation. Red wine is made from the must (pulp) of grapes that undergo fermentation together with the grape skins, while white wine is made by pressing crushed grapes to extract a juice and fermenting it.
To start primary fermentation, yeast is added to the must for red wine or the juice for white wine. After the primary fermentation of red grapes, the skins are pressed to extract the remaining juice and wine.
After the wine goes through secondary fermentation, it is is transferred to barrels to age – a process that can take anywhere from three to 36 months or more, depending on the goals for the wine. During aging, the wine is monitored and adjustments are made. Finally, when the wine is ready, it is filtered and bottled.
In recent years, a number of companies have offered custom labels on wine, but it’s unusual to have creative control over what’s going into that personalized bottle. The Estate Crush private barrel program lets clients adjust the winemaking protocol to make the wine to their personal specifications, and also involves clients in the process by scheduling tastings with the winemaker via videoconference or in person for important decisions such as oak additions and blend percentages. Clients can also adapt the size of the end product to their needs, ranging from one barrel (24 cases) to just one-quarter barrel (6 cases).
For oenophiles who haven’t been able to find the perfect blend or who want an exclusive wine they can call their own, a private barrel program that allows them to create their own ideal wine might just be the solution.