Think you need to own a vineyard to start a winery? Think again; the urban winery is on the rise. Winemakers from New York to Seattle are locating their winemaking facilities in the city rather than the traditional rural setting near the winery's vineyards.
Amateur winemakers are taking risks and making award winning wines without having to also maintain a farm. Urban wineries are located in downtown areas, in warehouses, and industrial parks. They often have tasting rooms and retail shops attached. And, they are miles from the farms that produce the grapes. Winemakers rent space in the city, rather than the paying high prices for land in wine country. This new crop of vintners is learning that you don’t need to spend millions on a plot of land, and take the risk of crop failure, to make good wine.
Grapes can be trucked in from regional vineyards, or even from around the country. The urban winery can then crush, ferment, and cellar the wine at their facility in the city. Or, the juice can be processed at a co-op close to the vineyards, and then finished in the city. Winemakers can choose grape varieties, select different appellations, and make the same production decisions for blending, bottling, and labeling as any other winery. And, the wine is just as good as wine made near the vineyards.
Urban wineries benefit the wine consumer as well. Most consumers don’t care where the grapes were crushed, fermented, or aged into wine. Now, connoisseurs can simply walk to a winery rather than traveling miles to the nearest vineyards. The experience in the urban winery is the same as in the tasting room of a vineyard located winery. The consumer can still experience the wine and purchase bottles directly from the source.
There are, of course, local limitations to starting an urban winery: zoning, building, and health codes could make it harder to operate a winery in any given location. Turning a profit may take a while, but many self-taught winemakers are taking the risk and doing what they love.