Most of you know that our first commercial crush was done at Crushpad in 2005. What we usually tell people about it is that we were grateful to have a place to make wine. It was very hard to find anyone south of Napa or north of Paso Robles that would allow a new winery to use their facility. We also say; “We learned a lot at Crushpad, mostly that we didn’t want to make wine at Crushpad again.”
We actually started looking for a new facility during that 2005 harvest. There was nothing I’d say was super wrong or unfixable that year, it was just the second vintage at Crushpad, and there were some kinks for sure. The main thing was it wasn’t really set up to handle what I’d call serious commercial clients. It was crowded and chaotic and a few time we had to wait on larger groups to make decisions before we could get on equipment to use it.
I discussed our situation with the founder of Crushpad Michel Brill and wanted to know if there were any changes planned to address the needs of commercial clients. At that point there were not. Michael wanted to keep the focus on being a community winery and his plan was simple, when someone was big enough to need another facility or more dedicated use of equipment, it was time for them to move on and he’d be happy for their success.
I told him that I though that created a huge revenue problem for his company. If he was always loosing his largest clients, he’d have to devote a lot of marketing resources and money to bringing in large numbers of smaller ones to make up the gap. That too was a factor in not staying. I didn’t see the revenue model being sustainable and that would present risk for us if we stayed.
I stayed on good terms with Michael and the staff at Crushpad though and continued to refer both growers and people interested in making wine to Crushpad. I knew just because it wouldn’t work for us, didn’t mean it would not for others. Over the years I’ve followed the changes there but not deeply. I noticed that Michael did seem to shift the business to handle more of the commercial clients. Eventually it seemed like the majority of the clients where commercial. I actually didn’t notice though when Michael left Crushpad last year.
A few months ago Crushpad hit the wine news again. It looked like the situation there was critical an the company was in serious financial trouble. Yesterday this article closed things off for Crushpad. The company is shuttered now and there appears to be an attempt to spin off something for the commercial clients. I wish everyone the best and hope they can get their wine. We are still grateful for the opportunity we had there and still happy we moved on, and it is sad to see Crushpad closing.