Contract Winemaking

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ATM I'm but a babe in the woods here.

I have just planted 430 vines: 350 Shiraz, 40 Cabernet & 40 Merlot.

So, I'm 3 years away from my 1st crop & ergo I have 3 years to decide between making the wine myself or handing the grapes over to a winery for a contract job.

Due to my academic background, I'm comfortable with the science; I'm perfectly at home with understanding what is going on & I'm very confident I can handle the process. My problem is TIME. I'll be half way thru my 8th decade on this planet when that 1st crop is picked & if I invest in equipment to make & test my wine I don't think I'm going to have enough years left in me to make it a viable proposition. But then, we are not in this game to make a profit, are we?

My questions are aimed at those that have contracted out the work:

1. Does the contractor give you the option of varying the winemaking parameters so that the wine produced mirrors what you want to achieve?

2. Will they allow your physical presence on site during the winemaking process?

3. Do they offer other services to assist in the production of the grapes; e.g. optimal picking time?
 

NorCal

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I think it will be finding the right person or people that will work with you. A good winemaker will know when to pick to achieve the style of wine you want to make. I didn’t see where you live, but a local winemaking club might be a good place to start. That or talking with some local, small wineries.

Frankly though, growing the grapes is a lot more time & work than making the wine, in my opinion.
 

mainshipfred

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I think it will be finding the right person or people that will work with you. A good winemaker will know when to pick to achieve the style of wine you want to make. I didn’t see where you live, but a local winemaking club might be a good place to start. That or talking with some local, small wineries.

Frankly though, growing the grapes is a lot more time & work than making the wine, in my opinion.
I'm with you with the growing thought. I read posts from people who grow grapes and my first thought is :that's too much like work".
 

Rice_Guy

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One of the local wineries operates with the Canadian wine regulations model, which is they rent out space/ babysitting, they provide tanks (30 to 50 gallon size) filters and bottling etc for customers to do their wines or kits which they sell. Their home fermentor business model has worked for at least two decades.

Based on varieties you have planted you aren’t up north/Canada. It will take some hunting in your region, you may need to encourage your wine toys store to expand, but it is a viable business model.
 

mainshipfred

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I have not contracted out wine making but involved through construction with a couple wineries. Here in Virginia the term is Custom Crush and it's not uncommon. To a certain degree you do get to dictate the style of wine you want although some winemakers are a bit more hard nosed then others. I honestly can't see why your presence on site would be a problem but expecting them to give there undivided attention would be since there would be a lot going on. They probably won't manage your vineyard but I do think they would like to have a say in when the grapes are harvested.
 

gsf77

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Your point about your age is well taken. However, the way I look at it is; If someone else does it, then it really ain’t my wine. I’m very new to this and I only have a few carboys but I do love being able to say this is “my” wine. Btw, I have 20-30 vines and they ain’t nothing but work. I’m taking a second look at the way I care for them. Good luck & enjoy!
 

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