Wine Ink: The Wine Foundry |

Wine Ink: The Wine Foundry


Defina Family Cellars 2014 Chardonnay

Matt Defina and his wife Denise have created a brand at The Wine Foundry for their wines that not only provides for great drinking but a great cause, as well. Matt was born with cystic fibrosis, a fatal, genetic disease that affects 30,000 people in the United States. Following a lung transplant in 2012, Matt decided there was an opportunity to give back. Today the family produces wines that share proceeds with a number of charities related to cystic fibrosis. This is an example of the myriad ways that clients can use the Wine Foundry.

So you want to make some wine? Good on you. There is no better way to learn.

But let’s say you lack the capital to invest in prime vineyard land, superior winemaking facilities, fancy consultants, brand designers and distributors. Welcome to the club. Fortunately there is a way to dip a toe into the wine world without spending a fortune.

“Our goal is to enable wine enthusiasts and amateur winemakers to access world-class grapes and facilities so that they can make world-class wines,” said Philip von Burg, the owner of The Wine Foundry in downtown Napa, California. There you will find a full-service winemaking facility designed to make winemaking dreams a reality.

The Wine Foundry provides a series of complete winemaking experiences for a variety of customer needs and desires. Prices range from a low of just under $5,000 a barrel for a labeled and bottled custom made rosé, to as high as $20,000 a barrel for cabernet sauvignon sourced from grapes from a premium Napa vineyard with your bottles capped with a wax seal. A barrel produces 25 cases, or 300 bottles, so you are looking at a bottle price of between $20 to $80 per bottle.

The Winemaking Process

Select the style of wine you want to make, purchase grapes from quality vineyards, crush and make your wine as you choose, and then store it in oak barrels until it’s ready. The Wine Foundry will also help you design a label for your wine, bottle it and, ultimately, market it.

Clients begin their winemaking adventure by consulting with The Wine Foundry’s team of experienced vintners. A consulting winemaker will be assigned and a six- to 24-month plan for your winemaking “project.”

The next decision is the vineyard. The Wine Foundry has contracts with a number of properties.

The Wine Foundry will then keep you up to date as your vintage progresses from the bud break in the spring, through verasion (the moment the grapes begin to ripen and change color), right up until time to call the pick. Once the grapes arrive in Napa, you can be a part of the production process, sorting the grapes and participating in the press. You can have as much input as you are prepared, or willing, to give in the making of your wine.

All the while you can also be working on label designs and a marketing plan. Through a unique arrangement with the Alcohol Tax and Trade Bureau, The Wine Foundry can help you distribute your wines as well. They can also assist in the creation of a website.

Five years ago this week, Von Burg took control of the facility from what was originally known as the Crushpad. Since then they have secured contracts with wineries, expanded and improved the winemaking facility and helped budding winemakers. Now they allow Napa growers and larger producers to share in the facility as well, and complete custom crush lots at the Wine Foundry.

You can see if you like and have an affinity for winemaking. At the very least, you’ll drink well.

Kelly J. Hayes lives in the soon-to-be-designated appellation of Old Snowmass. He can be reached at

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