What Can You Include in an Italian Food Gift Basket?

There are more than 10 holidays every year. In almost these, people like giving presents to their friends as a way of showing what they think about their friends and they want to share the festivities with them. That is a gesture that surpasses the cultural, geographical and religious divide. Sometimes, it is not possible to find a present suitable for everyone or a person may end up giving the same present year in year out. To avoid this, a person can try to get a different kind of present that is not common. It has to be affordable and meet the needs of the recipient. It should also make the giver stand out in the friend’s eyes because the present is lovely. If you are looking for such presents, an Italian food gift basket is the answer. Meals from this part of the world have become popular with most people and some are even looking for recipes of such. With this fad going on, you can give your friend a surprise with this package.

One of the packages you can come up with is using pasta and a variety of sauces. There are so many types of pasta you can have in the package. You can choose at least two of the most common types and get a short form and a long form. Also, get some packets of ready made sauces that go well with the pasta you have chosen. You can get one bottle of wine and fill up the Italian food gift basket with a pasta spoon and a pasta cookbook. Another option is to make a package of wines only. You can visit a local store that deals with this specialty and they are bound to tell you the recommended wines. For this case, you can sprinkle some nuts in the package or some packets of dried fruits. Some people may also opt to make a package of appetizers. This means looking for the ideal appetizers that are common with these meals. Some of these include different types of cheese, olive oil, bread sticks and roasted peppers. If you can get ready made soups, you can stash them in too.

People from Italy also love a bit of dessert after a meal. Since you want the person getting the package to get the real deal, you can decide to organize a dessert package. You can get some cappuccino and espresso or just packets of good coffee. You can also add some nuts and cookies to make an ideal dessert. Get as creative as you can in order to have a package that has quality not necessarily quantity. If you are giving this package during a house warming party, you can combine some kitchen stuff commonly used in Italy such as pasta spoons, pasta bowls, colanders and salad serving bowls. Throw in some kitchen towels and potholders too. This Italian food gift basket is bound to impress the recipient. The important thing to bear in mind is working within your budget; do not overspend to impress. Find out more info click acehighwine.com

More article : Herb Garden Plants For Italian Food Lovers


Herb Garden Plants For Italian Food Lovers

Walk into any Italian restaurant and you’re immediately assaulted by the most wonderful smells. Italian herbs make Italian cuisine among the best in the world because these special herbs are a unique blend that not only adds flavor to food, but makes a wonderful addition to landscape designs.

Some of the most popular herb garden plants for Italian food lovers are basil, fennel, rosemary, oregano, parsley, and garlic.

Basil is an annual warm-season herb which is sensitive to cold weather. It is relatively easy to grow, and has the interesting characteristic — that many gardeners are unaware of– of adding flavor to vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, and certain other plants, that it grows next to. If you’re planting basil seeds indoors, make sure the soil stays warm to encourage sprouting. When the plants are about two inches tall, move them outdoors to an area that gets plenty of sun.

Fennel is a perennial and has a wide range of uses including that wonderful accompaniment to spaghetti, as an herb used in Italian sausage. It can also be used in herbal teas and tinctures, and is said to aid digestion. Fennel is propagated from seed, and like basil, needs plenty of heat to stay healthy.

Rosemary is a hardy, perennial plant. It does well in virtually any climate, but is sensitive to frost. You can grow rosemary in pots or in the ground, and it will sprout little blue flowers that can be used in salads and as a garnish.

Parsley takes its own time to germinate, sometimes several weeks. If you want to tackle parsley, soak the seeds overnight before planting. Sow outdoors in early spring and choose an area that gets plenty of sun, or at the very least, only partial shade.

Oregano is easy to start from a cutting. Its little blue flowers are not only decorative, but also an indication that the plant can be harvested. Oregano likes plenty of sun and hot weather, and will spread all over the place. So take this into consideration as you decide whether to constrain the plant in pots, or allow it to run loose in your garden.

Garlic is a must in any herb Italian garden. After you’ve planted the cloves, the plants will thrive with little attention. Unlike some herbs, this is a “low maintenance” plant.

There are many other herbs that can be included in an Italian herb garden, but these are the most common. Start here and expand based on what your favorite Italian dishes call for and on the growing conditions that each plant requires. Find out more info click acehighwine.com

More Article : Appreciating Italian Food

Appreciating Italian Food

If you are taking a trip through the country of Italy, you will quickly find that appreciating the Italian food means trying things from many different regions. Italy is broken up into many small regions and within these regions there are several different villages and towns. Going from town to town and village to village, will allow you the opportunity to sample and taste what the different areas have to offer. Just because you have sampled one sauce from one house within a town, you should not automatically assume that you have a feel for the way things are done. In fact, you have more than likely only scratched the surface and there is plenty lying below waiting to be discovered.

Your Sauce Is Not My Sauce

There are many reasons for actually appreciating Italian food, and one of the most obvious is of course the great pasta sauce that can be found in Italy. It is important to note however, that just because a sauce is found in one house within one select village, it does not mean that this is the way it is done throughout the entire village. The fact is that that particular home has done things to their sauce for generations, and this is something that is very similar in the home next to that one. The mothers and grandmothers have perfected the sauce, and then passed it down in the family for the present and future generations to enjoy. While the sauce itself may be something that is very specific to the family and house that you visit, there are still ingredients that come from the region that you are in that are used for the meal itself that remains the same throughout the village.

Same Item Different Taste

It is not uncommon for you to find an item that looks the same yet tastes very different, when you are appreciating Italian food. The fact that the regions play a large role in taste along should be a good indication of the diversity of this lovely little country. You will find so many variations of something that you may be familiar with, that you would assume that it is not the same recipe at all once you try it. This can be the case with just about everything that is culinary related, and can also effect vegetation and livestock as well.

Meats And Cheeses

One of the most pronounced things that will differ from one another in various regions is meats and cheeses. These both will offer great taste and while appreciating Italian food is anything but difficult, you may find some things about it just does not agree with you in regards to regions. One region may use too much of this or too little of that for your liking, and this can even mean that meats and cheeses are affected. The livestock can taste drastically different from others depending on what they are fed, and cheese can differ greatly due to the type of feed the dairy cows in the region are eating. For more info click acehighwine.com

Read more article : For The Love Of Italian Food – Pasta And Cauliflower Recipe

Italian Food Recipes – 3 Tips For Choosing the Best

Italian food recipes have grown over the internet landscape the past 2 years with more added each day. You have a wide choice to choose from in today’s marketplace of taste. The dishes can range from hearty and robust to light and flavorful with many in between the two extremes. So with all these choices, along with the new kid on the block,healthy Italian recipes, how do you pick the right ones?

I’ve noticed many mistakes people make when it comes to choosing a recipe. But I’ve noticed just a few that keep coming up among people, especially new cooks. But I’ve also watched older more experienced cooks fall into a trap or two the newbie’s fall victim to.

Perhaps it’s the simplicity of the mistakes, they’re what people can often describe as little, but when overlooked they can often cause a big flop with your Italian recipe.

I’ve listed 3 solid guidelines to follow that will help you choose the best recipes. There’s a simple system to choosing the best dishes. If you take the time to follow these suggestions you’ll get better at choosing the best. The more you stick to these tips the better and more consistent your results. Read more info click acehighwine.com

1. Ingredients Are Easily Obtainable. – At first this appears to be a no-brainer, but many cooks can easily make this mistake if they’re not careful. In their excitement to start on the recipe, they can gloss over an ingredient the dish calls for and not realize it until it’s too late.

2. Invest In The Right Cooking Tools – This is an area many cooks underestimate. They choose to cook an elaborate recipe that have more steps than normal – with the wrong cooking tools. Doing this not only waste time, it can ruin a recipe, making the final product disappointing.

3. Can You Speak Recipe? – Many cooks overlook the importance of understanding recipe terms. They try to wing it and leave themselves open to make little mistakes that cause bigger problems. You’ll have a different result if you cube and the recipe said to mince, or you boiled and the recipe said to sauté. This can cause your result to go into the trash instead of your mouth.

As you pay attention and remember these simple tips you’ll find your Italian recipes taking on a better look, feel and taste. There’s a popular saying that “the little foxes can spoil the vine,” meaning little mistakes can spoil a lot. Now know you see how you can avoid the little mistakes and make your Italian cooking a big hit.

Want to read more article : Does Classic Italian Food Mean Pizza?

For The Love Of Italian Food – Pasta And Cauliflower Recipe

Mangia! Mangia! I just can’t get enough of the great taste of Italian foods. Italian pasta, pizza, pork, beef and seafood recipes are much a part of my everyday life.

Growing up Italian in Chicago has been a wonderful culinary experience to say the least. The many different restaurants and families from different regions of Italy allowed me to taste some of the most delicious food in the world.

Food always conjures up great memories. When I cook something I haven’t had in a while, it always seems to bring me back to the last time and place I did have it. I think it’s the closest thing to a “time machine” we’ll ever experience.

Years ago at every family gathering my Grandmother Theresa made a simple dish of pasta and cauliflower. Oh how we craved for this dish after she was gone. It was filling and delicious and you just could not get enough.

So finally one day I said I was going to try and make it. I just had to have it again. There was just no way was I going to live out the rest of my life without ever eating this dish again. Determined, I tried many times and one day I came as close as I possibly could to recreating her recipe. As we all know Grandmothers did not measure anything, so this was not an easy task. Find out more info click Ace High Wine

Here’s my version of my Grandmother’s recipe. I hope you an your family enjoy it as much as mine does

Grandma Theresa’s Pasta and Cauliflower



  • 1 pound box of mostaccioli or rotini


  • 2 medium size heads of cauliflower


  • 3 or 4 cloves of garlic chopped


  • 3 or 4 bunches of long green onions chopped


  • 1 stick of butter


  • 2 Tbls of vegetable oil


  • 1 cup of seasoned bread crumbs


  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese


  • Salt to taste


  • Freshly ground black pepper to tastePreparation


  • Clean and cut cauliflower into bite size pieces.


  • Boil cauliflower in around 6 quarts of water until tender.


  • In a large frying pan sauté onions and garlic in ½ stick of butter and oil for about 5 minutes.


  • Add ½ cup of bread crumbs and sauté until slightly brown.


  • With a slotted spoon remove cauliflower and add to the breadcrumb mixture. Do not throw away the cauliflower water.


  • Cook the pasta in the cauliflower water until al dente. Around ten minutes.


  • Add remaining butter and breadcrumb to the cauliflower mixture.


  • Add around a cup of cauliflower water to the mixture to moisten.


  • Stir and cook for around 15 minutes more.


  • Mix the pasta and cauliflower together.


  • Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and your ready to eat.


I hope this recipe makes many memories for your family and friends.

Want to know more article : Regional Choices Play Part in Differences in Tastes With Italian Food

Regional Choices Play Part in Differences in Tastes With Italian Food

When it comes to Italian food and actually dining in Italy, you will quickly find that depending on location regional choices will play a large part in what the food you have chosen tastes like. This is because not only do regions vary with what they choose to do with recipes, so too does each and every home that you find in the specific region. This basically falls back to how the cook was taught by their parent or grand parent on how to make a specific dish. You can find a vast difference between two neighbors, if they were to both make the same recipe.

Sauce Is Also Dictated By Region

If you were curious about what regional choices do for sauces, you would be surprised to know that it is just about everything. Family recipes that are for pasta sauces are treated as tight-lipped secrets. You will be very hard pressed to find an Italian that is willing to offer even a hint of what the sauce contains. Regional cuisine can show a great deal of variations, and this will offer many different tastes from the same recipe. Each home has their own specific idea as to what the dish should taste like, and the more you travel around and experience what Italy has to offer the more you will find this to be the case. It is not just sauces that are found to be different as a result of regions, as you will find some pasta and rice recipes can also have a dedicated taste from home to home.

Tradition Helps Shape What Italians View As Fine Cuisine

If you are lucky to dine in Italy within many different regions, you will quickly see why regional choices in cuisine play such a large role in what is considered fine dining. Many of the finest dishes available today, are a direct result of tradition. How the generations before this one set to make a recipe great is what has dictated how the recipe is looked at today. Adding a little of this, and trying a bit of that is what makes this cuisine in every form wonderful. Italians are not afraid to try something new, and many times it changes a recipe so much that it actually creates a new one. Families all over Italy pride themselves on what is a family secret and they will share with new family members, but you can bet that they will take the recipe to the grave before sharing with an outsider.

Regions Vary, And It Seems Like They Are Different Worlds

With the regional choices that you can find when it comes to Italian foods, it almost seems like the different regions that you enter are completely different worlds all together. You will walk through various villages and or small towns and you will be prompted to try their cuisine. What you find is that from home to home just as the regions are the recipes will be similar but they will be worlds apart. Find out more info click acehighwine.com

Want to read more article : Italian Food Recipes – 3 Tips For Choosing the Best


Does Classic Italian Food Mean Pizza?

There is no doubt about it, for most people Italian food means pizza. Well, sometimes it means spaghetti, but nine times out of ten, people are thinking of pizza when they say they want to go out for Italian.

And while it is true, there is pizza I Italy, most times, the pizza you will get there bears little resemblance to the pizza most Americans are used to eating. Because some people think the type of pizza you find in Italy is more authentic, they say once you have it you never want regular American pizza again. But the truth is, as far as food goes (pizza included) the delight is in the taste of the beholder. Perhaps you have read some of the more modern wine courses which teach the theory that any wine is good wine, as long as you like it. Well, taste in food is the same.

If you taste both authentic Italian pizza and American pizza, and you decide that you like the American version better than the original. Then there is no reason that you should have to eat anything else. After all, it’s your tongue and stomach, not that of somebody else.

People can be real snobs when it comes to eating, and with Italian food, this happens often. People get all wrapped up in what is the real flavor of the country and neglect the flavors that have been their favorites for years. This is not how meals are supposed to be. Meals are supposed to be fun. Want to know more info click acehighwine.com

Take pizza, for instance, rumor has it that pizza in Italy actually started in the Middle East where pieces of flatbread were used to hold toppings or seasoned oil and eaten without the benefits of plates or tableware. It is actually a pretty innovative idea, to be able to eat your plate when you are done with your meal. Originally, the flatbread was often unleavened like matzos, but when people found that it was relatively to control the leavening process, they began to make all kinds of breads to eat and enjoy.

One really excellent invention that helped make pizza into the dish we know and love today was the production of mozzarella cheese. The best kind of this cheese is made from the milk of water buffaloes and is from Campania. The cheese itself is eaten in many ways but on pizza, the low moisture style of the cheese is preferred.

When you combine baking the pizza in a traditional wood fire oven, and add a selection of toppings which these days can even include jalapeno peppers, you have a treat that may not be traditional, sure tastes great. Food traditions can certainly evolve and change from country to country but as long as eating remains a fun activity, I think that change is good. And why not, because the most important rule about eating is that good food is meant to be good fun.

Read more : How to Distinguish Between the Different Styles of Italian Food

How to Distinguish Between the Different Styles of Italian Food

One of the most popular food served in the USA today is Italian food, but where did it come from? What is it’s origins? Italian food has evolved over centuries. The country that we know as Italy didn’t become a country till the 19th century. It’s roots can be traced back as early as the 4th century BC. It is because of this long history we are lucky to have so many different and tasty foods from Italy. The ingredients and taste In these dishes vary by region, but many have become national dishes while others have remained regional specialties. In this article I would like to highlight some of the dishes from key regions in Italy.

First, Friuli-Venezia Giulia this region shares many traditions with it’s bordering country of Yugoslavia. This reion specializes in hams, bacon and cheeses. This region also takes on the influence of the countries of;Austria, Hungry, Slovenia and Croatia. Polenta is a staple and finds it way into many dishes.

Second, Veneto, is really known for risotto. This dishes ingredients vary by the areas proximity to the sea. Veneto’s dishes tend to be heavier and use many exotic spices and sauces. Less fish is eaten in Veneto and more meat and sausage is preferred. Th area also holds a high regard for quality vegetables.

Third, Lombardy, rice is a very popular ingredient in the foods of Lombardy. It can be found in soups as well as risotto. The area is known for a great deal of cattle raising. Therefore a great deal of butter and cream is used in the food. One dish meals are a favorite all type of stews are popular with the working people of this region.

Fourth, Liguria, vegetables, herbs and seafood are popular in this local cuisine. Onions and oil are used in the cooking. Pies and cakes are also renowned from this area. This region also eats many pastas along with boiled beans and potatoes.

Fifth, Tuscany, known worldwide for it’s simple but tasty food. Legumes, bread, cheese and fresh vegetable are essential foods. The region is also known for their famed steaks and Prosciutto.

Sixth, Umbria, most of the dishes are prepared with simple cooking techniques that include boiling and roasting. They use olive oil and local herbs for flavor. In spring and summer vegetables are popular and in the fall and winter meat becomes more popular. Freshwater fish is also provided by the many lakes.

Seventh, Abruzzo and Molise, chilies are very popular in the food of this area.Pasta, meat and vegetables are central to the food of this region. Saffron is a favorite spice in foods of this area.

Campania, this is the area where most Italian -American food has its origins. The area includes produce such as tomatoes, peppers onions, potatoes, artichokes, lemons and oranges that all take on the taste of the volcanic soil of the area. The Gulf of Naples offers fresh fish and seafood. The mozzarella cheese is highly prized in this area as it comes from local water buffaloes. It is the cheese and vegetables that has made this area famous for its prized pizza.

Ninth, Sicily, to your surprise Sicily is famous for other things beside mobsters. The food has the influence of the Ancient Greeks.That is the origins of wine to this area. The Romans came later with lavish dishes based on goose. In the eleventh century the Arabs brought sugar, sweet melons, rice, saffron, cloves nutmeg,pepper all of which can be tasted in today’s food. The Spanish introduced many foods from the New World. Many fish can also be seen in the diet of Sicily. Find out more info click Ace High Wine

For more article : Italian Food and Quality

Italian Food and Quality

The main reason for the popularity of Italian food is probably its taste that pleases all cultures. Another one could be the quality of its ingredients. A good Italian dish depends directly on the freshness and genuinity of its ingredients. During the present times, it is important to preserve quality standards to avoid a quality loss while looking for convenience in international markets.

Quality Brands

To protect the originality of some typical products and processes, the European Union created the quality brands PDO (Protected designation of origin) and PGI (Protected Geographical Indication). The PDO protects both the origin of the raw material and the typical production process. The PGI protects the typical process, allowing the raw material to come from other parts.

The weak ring is the low knowledge people have about these brands. They are created to foster the typical products, benefiting the customers, as they distinguish the real typical products from the common ones that are maybe sold as an equal quality product. Some researches showed that the number of people who knows about these brands is still a minor part of the customers.

The most known example regards the parmesan cheese. Most of the customers know parmesan as a type of Italian cheese. How many of these customers know about the sentence from European Union stating that Parmesan is the cheese produced in a determined region of Italy, under the rules of Parmigiano Reggiano consortium? Only this cheese can be called Parmigiano or parmesan. The other ones, produced all around the world (this sentence regarded a German cheese) cannot use this name. If they do so, they are doing it unproperly.

Typical food quality and Tourism

This example shows the importance of preserving the food culture. Otherwise, in a few years, in this globalization environment, we were going to eat the same things everywhere, losing this important culture factor that is made of typical processes and products.

When we travel, we do not go visiting museums or monuments only… each place carries its culture also concerning food.

Studies show that the number of tourists that consider the food as an important factor while choosing a destination is growing. A relevant number wants to experience it visiting wineries, agritourist sites and “touching with hand” the process of producing typical products. Often also buying local products to take home part of that experience lived in that specific territory.

Hunger and quality

Quality is for comfortable people. It should not be like this, but it is. People is able to look for quality when is not hungry. Talk about quality brands and typical products has sense when people is already replete, and have the possibilities to choose. This fact doesn’t mean quality shoudn’t be present in every product, but it means that look for a special extra virgin olive oil has sense for someone who already uses and know what an extra virgin olive oil is.

This may be a risk for poor civilizations that may loose their typical process while looking for cheaper food. They may buy from the outside more convenient food rather than evaluating their own typical processes, that may cost more and give less harvest.

Quantity x quality

The process of obtaining smaller harvests began with a huge production of butter in the 70’s, that was storaged in European warehouses. In a world where there is still people who die for hunger, such economic measure to avoid the prices decrease isn’t correct. So, what should be done to avoid this inconvenient problem (too much food stored)? Produce less! The biologic products were born then to fulfill this need: smaller harvests using less chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

The process continued and people began to notice that “less is better”. Typical products with small outputs began to be considered specialties. If a kind of olive tree gives less harvest, their product is a niche product.

But how a common customer can notice this difference? Through the quality brands. It’s a powerful tool for quality food lovers. A unique product has no need of a quality brand. Some special brands of balsamic vinegar are sold by more than 2000 US dollars per litre. These are unique products by themselves, as a Ferrari is between machines. But regarding the good products that can be confused with similar in appearance, the quality brand is necessary and allows the gourmets to buy and enjoy special food that continue to be produced as they used to be, respecting the local traditions and allowing us to live in a global world that preserve the differences cultures need to keep the history alive. Read more info click Ace High Wine

More Article : Making A Wine May Not Be Easy, But It Could Be Simple – Starting Off Small

Making A Wine May Not Be Easy, But It Could Be Simple – Starting Off Small

A few years ago, a friend decided he wanted to put out a wine under his own label. His strategy was to test the markets reception and then decide whether to sell the wine in the future. His wine was a chardonnay named after his wife. He randomly contacted a custom crush facility in Napa to explore the options involved. Ultimately, he decided he wanted to buy his own fruit directly from a vineyard owner and have the fruit delivered to his custom crush facility. The rest of the work was in the hands of the facility staff. He specified in laymen terms, his label look, specifications relative to taste, tannins, alcohol, oaky aromas, and acid levels. In 12 short month’s his family and friends were toasting his new wine. Do you have a similar dream?

Digressing for a moment. In the late 60’s I visited the Robert Mondavi Winery; they were finishing building their new winery. And for a long time after that I equated a bottle of wine with a physical winery; one having a grand building and surrounding vineyards. Reality isn’t that. In reality, a winery may not include a physical plant and support facilities surrounded by their vineyards. In the past, consumers perceived premium fine wine was considered premium if made by wineries that owned their own vineyards and buildings.

Today premium wines can be made by winemakers who neither own the physical facilities or the vineyards. Boutique wines, varietal and blended, are not a function of a building or owned land. As Celebrations Wine Club notes, “Many of the wines that are now cutting edge are made by winemakers without their own vines, who are hunting down extraordinary fruit from small, often old, and usually obscure vineyards in out-of-the-way places and making extraordinary wines that command handsome prices. Ultimately fine wine is the result of winemaking technique and vineyard quality, regardless of who owns the land.”

In the case of vineyards/grapes, winemakers don’t need to own the land and the vines, if someone else produces quality fruit, then buy from them. Relative to winery facilities, over the past 10-15 years, there are more options for winemakers to ply their skills through “Custom Crush” and “Alternating Proprietors” options. I will explain both, but the focus now is on Custom Crush because that is where boutique/small case production winemakers can get the most help in crafting their wines while exerting various levels of control in the winemaking process.

Alternating Proprietor-Where two or more entities take turn using the same space and equipment to produce wine. These arrangements allow existing fixed facilities wineries to use excess capacity. The TTB (Tax and Trade Bureau of the Treasury Dept.) must approve all proprietors as an operator of a Bonded Winery. These are the same requirements as if owning 100% of the winery.

Custom Crush-The wine ‘Producer’ is authorized by TTB to make wine and is entirely responsible for producing the wine and following all regulations and taxes. The ‘Customer’ is not responsible for interfacing with the TTB or paying taxes directly. Once the finished wine is transferred to the customer the sale is completed and taxes are paid by the “Producer”.

Note: Unless the “Customer” chooses to give his wine away to friends or even sommeliers as a free sample, no filing with the TTB is required. However, to sell the wine, the former ‘Customer’ now becomes and acts like a winery and must file with the TTB for a license to sell the wine-remember there are two things in life that are unavoidable, one being “taxes”. This notwithstanding, some custom crush facilities can assist in selling a Customers dream wine “Direct-to-Consumers” by acting as a licensee for the Customer.

The above explanation is only to explain that there are two options for winemakers to craft their own wine absent owning a physical winery. A custom crush facility is free to help the winemaker based upon agreed fees, but ultimately, the custom crush operator is responsible for everything from label approvals, to record keeping relative to bonding, and taxes.

The growth of the Alternating Proprietors and Custom Crush options has been so dramatic that in 2008 the TTB came out with an Industry Circular to remind wineries and custom crush operators as to the rules/laws that apply to their operations as set forth by the TTB.

The “virtual” winery industry of 2015 in the U.S. was 1,477, out of a total of 8,287 wineries (6,810 were bonded). The Custom Crush universe now represents 18% of all wineries and had a 23% growth 2015 versus 2014. With California representing approximately 50% of U.S. wineries it is easy to understand that the big push into custom crush is California driven.

The true magnitude of just how impactful the custom crush business has become can be realized when we explore the definition of a winery. Basically, it is defined as an establishment that produces wine for proprietors or owners of the winery and pay taxes on the finished product. Most boutique wine sellers have their own licenses to sell their wines and are therefore wineries. In the case of custom crush, there is only one entity paying the taxes, yet it is not uncommon for them to be producing wine for 100 plus people. Looking at the client list of two custom crush companies in Sonoma and Napa, they produce wine for more than 100 clients each.

In the virtual world of wine production, the Alternating Proprietor is not Custom Crush and really does not cater to the small or start-up person. So, what is the profile of a custom crush adventure?

It seems that almost every Custom Crush company has their own business model. For example:

· Size of production.

Some will provide services for a minimum of one barrel-25 cases of wine/approximately 300 bottles. Others stipulate a minimum production of 4 barrels, or even more.

· Services and Cost.

This is probably best discussed in the context of explaining two business custom crush models on both extremes-large full service and a smaller operation that caters to small clients exclusively. These are simply two I chose, of dozens of operators available to potential winemakers.

The Wine Foundry in Napa seems to have the most inclusive offering of services that starts with a single barrel option, although most clients are larger than single barrel. They support the client/winemaker throughout, design and obtain label design/TTB approval, fruit sourcing, crush, fermentation, lab facility/monitoring, varietal wines for blending, bottling-bottles/cork/ foils, taxation record keeping, and even a program to assist in commercial distribution of your wine. Alternatively, if a client is on a tight timeframe or not interested in making a custom wine, they will put a personalized label on a wine they have produced for themselves. The Wine Foundry has every solution to support a brand from incubation to full scale custom crush and a brand or individual can produce as little as 25 cases to as much as 15,000 cases per year.

As noted previously, every custom crush facility has their own model in doing business with clients. The simplest full service option, where the facility does everything for the client, except source the fruit (one ton or 2 barrels of finished Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon wine), is approximately $9,100 or $15/bottle (approximately 600 bottles total). But, remember, the cost of the fruit is not in the production costs. This price includes the sorting, crush, use of facilities for fermentation, barrel aging, labels, blending wine, standard packaging and bottling. Once you buy the fruit from The Wine Foundry, or source it yourself, the finished bottle of Napa Cabernet Sauvignon your finished bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon will be approximately $35.00 to $41.00 per bottle (fruit price varies by vineyard).

Don’t panic at the price because some of The Wine Foundry custom crush clients have sold their wine at up to $200 per bottle; the average is approximately $85.00 per bottle. Mind you, that is a premium wine!

The commercial activity associated with selling your wine is a totally different issue with additional costs and regulations. But then you can immediately start building a commercial wine brand.

At the other end of the spectrum is Judd’s Hill MicroCrush. Judd’s Hill MicroCrush’s average custom crush is between 1-5 barrels for a new client. The services they provide will produce a custom premium wine to include: crush, fermentation, barrel aging, label designs (outsourced), bottling and lab work. (In the case of a red wine it is approximately a 2-year process and for whites it is 1 year.) Many of their clients are small vineyard owners who, for varied reasons, want wine produced to their specifications that will showcase their fruit.

“Our customers run the gambit from the single barrel customer to a vineyard owner bringing us 10 or more tons of fruit,” explained Susie Dineen, Manager. To keep it simple for Judd’s Hill customer base, they have a flat rate charge of $4,450 per barrel which includes everything except fruit, labels, small lot wines for blending and taxes. The fruit is an additional cost to the client. Assuming, you buy 1 barrel of Cabernet Sauvignon you could have a premium wine for approximately $27.00 per bottle (flat rate charges plus the fruit, label, etc.). If you can’t wait, buy a premium finished barrel from their own barrel room, ready to bottle after you add your own blending touches.

You better expect to make 2 barrels of wine because you may find it hard to buy anything less than 1 ton of grapes and 1 ton will make 2 barrels of wine or 600 bottles. Judd’s Hill is unique in that their custom crush model allows them to cater to the single barrel ½ ton of fruit client.

Bottom-line, if a potential customer wants to try their hand at being a winemaker there are tons (no pun intended) of custom crush facilities that can help. All such facilities I talked to have a menu of services they offer with corresponding costs noted. It is up to the customer to be comfortable with their winemaking abilities relative to what they expect in the finished wine and their objectives.

The fruit costs can easily represent 60% of the finished costs. The king of varietals in Napa is Cabernet Sauvignon and within Napa a big factor is what vineyard you get the fruit from. In the 2016 harvest, the Cabernet Sauvignon cost per ton ranged from $5,400 to $8,500. Some Zinfandel grapes were available for $2,400 per ton. Chardonnay grapes averaged $2,500 to $3,000 per ton. The big drivers, aside from yields, in fruit costs are: the AVA/county (i.e. Napa, Sonoma, Lodi), reputation of the vineyard, quality and even the clone. Read more info click acehighwine.com

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