Silicon Valley lies a mere 90 miles from the heart of California wine country, but sits worlds apart. The frenzy of venture-backed start-ups doesn't seem to overlap the world of wine, except to provide a steady stream of wealthy individuals whose dreams include a nice house, a few acres of vines, and their name on a label. As the old joke would have it, Silicon Valley is where you make the large fortune, wine country is where you turn it into a small one.
Perhaps it was inevitable that some daring entrepreneurs would try to bridge these two worlds, so remote in sensibility but so close in geography. In 2004, billing itself as an urban winery that was going to revolutionise the home winemaking industry, Crushpad LLC burst onto the scene.
Crushpad offered its customers a simple proposition for somewhere between $6,000 and $10,000 US - the ability to make wine in quantities as small as a single barrel, from many of the same, high-quality California vineyard sources used by famous wine brands. Crushpad provided the facilities and top-shelf winemaking talent, brokered the contracts with grape growers, and even offered label design services. What's more, the company handled all the paperwork required to turn your personal project into a real commercial wine brand.
This article is my monthly column at JancisRobinson.Com, Alder on America, and is available only to subscribers of her web site. If you're not familiar with the site, I urge you to give it a try. It's only £6.99 a month or £69 per year ($11/mo or $109 a year for you Americans) and well worth the cost, especially considering you basically get free, searchable access to the Oxford Companion to Wine ($65) and the World Atlas of Wine ($50) as part of the subscription costs. Click here to sign up.
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