In an era when it sometimes feels like big brands are taking over everything, custom crush and cooperative tasting room facilities that cater to small and micro producers offer consumers an opportunity to connect with small, burgeoning or start-up wineries.
Launched in 2017 by wine industry veterans Erin Brooks, Todd Gottula, and Erin and Robert Morris, Grand Cru was created with “a vision to build a shared creative space for established, independent wineries, allowing them to partner their unique winemaking talent with world-class production technology to create some of the best wines in Sonoma County.” Since then, the business has thrived, growing to take on more than 20 member wineries, as well as additional custom-crush only clientele.
With over 20 tiny producers under one roof, the business’ presence in Windsor—along with the Artisan Alley folks just down the road—makes Windsor one of the most unique urban wine tasting destinations in the North Bay.
The Space and Location
Grand Cru is both a custom crush facility and a cooperative tasting space, meaning that they have both a production and crush pad area, as well as individual tasting rooms (or tasting salons) leased by small brands. The tasting rooms are small, modern and polished with a tasting counter and just enough seating to facilitate a small group.
Their state-of-the-art 31,000 foot production space features a crushpad, destemmer and optical sorter, bladder and basket presses, temperature controlled barrel rooms and temperature controlled glycol systems.
The space is located off of American Way in Windsor, just next door to DuMOL winery.
Member wineries at Grand Cru are primarily boutique or micro-winery brands producing between 1,500 and 5,000 cases. Some are established brands that may not have a tasting room of their own, while others are brand new start-up wineries trying to make a name for themselves. A growing number falls somewhere in between.
Tasting Wine at Grand Cru
Six private tasting salon spaces are on-site, where member wineries can host tastings and receive customers by appointment, though a few member brands have their own tasting rooms off-site.
There is also an option to book a “Vintner’s Selection” tasting experience, which allows guests to taste through a selection of wines from different Grand Cru member vintners. The tasting flight includes five wines, takes about 60 minutes and costs $35. There is also an option to do a red wine-only version of this flight.
The Vintner’s Selection tasting experience is a great way to find new producers and wines one may not have heard of. For those who really like a wine from a particular vintner, they can make an appointment to come back and taste more of that brand’s wines.
Single vintner tastings and Vintner’s Selection tastings can be booked on Grand Cru’s website, grandcrucustomcrush.com. Advance reservations are required for all tasting experiences.