Innovation That Matters

Wine commerce for amateur vintners


When we first covered Crushpad two years ago, this state-of-the-art urban winery was already making its mark by providing the grapes, equipment, barrels and know-how—all the essentials—to aspiring wine enthusiasts who wanted the experience of creating their own ultra-premium cabernets, merlots or other fine wines, but didn’t have the luxury of owning their own vineyards. Customers who were unable to visit the San Francisco-based facility in person could design their wines remotely, using grape harvests from some of Napa Valley’s finest vineyards, and monitor their wine’s progress online. With a customer base now numbering in the thousands, Crushpad is not only still going strong, but has expanded its offerings to include resources for those who want to capitalize on their winemaking experiences by launching their own brands. “Crushpad Commerce is a program that allows anyone to turn their passion for wine into a full-fledged commercial wine brand—without the high cost, complexity or time commitment required to operate a traditional winery.” Customers can get help creating their wines, building and marketing their brands, and even making the actual sales. Crushpad Commerce handles the logistics of order fulfillment, storage and distribution of funds, so customers can enjoy the perks of designing and selling their own wines without the hassles. And with so much wine-making and marketing knowledge to be passed around, an online forum is an obvious next step. Recently launched in beta form, Crushnet offers online winemaking discussion groups and even facilitates wine swaps among members. Users can take advantage of individual blogs, group messaging, community forums and “Enowiki”—a community knowledge base for winemaking. Last but not least, in a financing round earlier this year, Crushpad received a cash injection of USD 3.5 million, which will help the company nearly double production in 2007. Crushpad’s example of how a single great business idea can be expanded upon is surely one to follow—especially for other entrepreneurs who might stand to profit from encouraging their customers’ own entrepreneurial pursuits! The city chateau has plans to expand both nationally and internationally over the next few years. If you own a vineyard or are otherwise involved with winemaking in other parts of the world, now’s the time to get in touch with them and talk partnerships. Or start your own DIY-winery. Besides making it more convenient for your customers to sample their personal wines, local versions of Crushpad would also capture the benefits of the still made here trend—a growing consumer passion for all things local.



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