NAPA VALLEY -- Crushpad, which has been making wine for hobbyists and boutique vintners in a warehouse in San Francisco since it started in 2004, has announced plans to relocate its winemaking functions to Silverado Trail Wine Studio in the Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley by early March.

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="472" caption="Silverado Trail Wine Studio"][/caption]

Crushpad (link) has worked out a deal with Napa-based Premium Pacific Vineyards to rent space in the custom winery (link), located just northeast of Napa amid 25 acres of vines at 3105 Silverado Trail, according to an e-mail Crushpad President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Brill sent to member vintners late Monday afternoon.

"Getting a major presence on Silverado Trail is an opportunity of our lifetime," he wrote. "We can now offer many more experiences in wine country in areas such as viticulture education, something that our clients have been asking us for since we started in 2004. Additionally, our commercial clients gain a tasting room on a major Napa thoroughfare and our larger clients have access to larger ferment capabilities which will reduce their costs."

While winemaking will move to Napa Valley, shipping will still be handled from the San Francisco warehouse, according to Mr. Brill.

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="163" caption="Michael Brill"][/caption]

In addition to offering classes on viticulture, barrels and packaging, Crushpad will have more options for tours of the vineyards from which grapes for members' wines are purchased, according to Mr. Brill. Crushpad clients also will be able to take advantage of the winery tasting room.

Crushpad staff will work with clients on wine plans, sensory-based winemaking, blending, bottling and laboratory tests. The winery staff will be handle production, offering larger-scale options for clients in the take-to-market Crushpad Commerce program and lower-cost bulk winemaking options for enthusiast customers.

The company has more than 100 Crushpad Commerce clients and about 5,000 clients making California wines. Crushpad opened operations in the Bordeaux winegrowing region of France last year.

Crushpad has been purchasing grapes from Premier Pacific Vineyards holdings in Napa Valley, Russian River Valley, Sonoma Coast, Mendocino County's Anderson Valley and Oregon since 2007.

While Mr. Brill wrote that much of Crushpad will remain the same, he acknowledged that the shift from San Francisco to Napa Valley will bring changes.

First, customers living in San Francisco accustomed to visiting the winery between appointments will have to plan trips to the valley. To accommodate San Francisco customers, Crushpad plans to offer a sampling program to allow customers to taste progress of their wines at Crushpad's remaining facilities in the city.

Also, the arrangement with Napa-based custom winery Bin to Bottle (link) forged last year will likely be mainly for brands that outgrow the Oak Knoll winery, according to Mr. Brill. Crushpad and Bin to Bottle joined forces in February 2009 to offer more production winemaking for brands of 500 to 5,000 cases a year, which had outgrown Crushpad's bin-based winemaking in San Francisco. [See story, "Bin to Bottle, Crushpad join forces," Feb. 23, 2009.]