Custom Winemaker Expands to Sonoma

Bin to Bottle leases Buena Vista Carneros facility, doubling capacity

by Paul Franson
Buena Vista Bin to Bottle Ramal Estate Winery
Leasing the Buena Vista Winery facility will double Bin to Bottle’s production capacity for custom-made wine, adding more than 600,000 gallons of closed-top, stainless steel cooperage and 1,500 tons of open-top fermentation.
Sonoma, Calif.Bin to Bottle custom winery of Napa Valley has leased the Buena Vista Winery facility on Ramal Road in Carneros and will operate it as Ramal Estate Winery. The lease does not include the 55,000-case Buena Vista Carneros and the Buena Vista brand, purchased last year by Boisset Family Estates. The facility will double Bin to Bottle’s production capacity for custom-made wine, adding more than 600,000 gallons of closed-top, stainless steel cooperage and 1,500 tons of open-top fermentation.

“The Ramal Estate Winery allows us to accommodate the growing needs of our larger custom crush clients,” said Bin to Bottle managing partner John Wilkinson. “We are traditionally known for crushing smaller lots between 2 and 20 tons for ultra premium brands, so our absorption of this facility geared to larger lot sizes is a calculated move and very exciting for us.”

He added, “The winery’s well-designed systems allow us to offer especially affordable rates on larger-lot winemaking. What’s truly unique is Bin to Bottle bringing its high-end trained team, systems and processes to high-capacity production. High capacity and high quality are no longer mutually exclusive.”

Bin to Bottle did not lease the vineyards surrounding the Ramal facility or the historic Buena Vista winery in Sonoma, which Boisset maintains as a tasting room.

Bin to Bottle previously had managed 50,000-case Valley Gate Vineyard—formerly Kirkland Ranch Winery—in south Napa County. That agreement has ended and Valley Gate is now focusing on its own brand. Bin to Bottle had also cooperated with CrushPad for larger production in the past.

The Carneros facility also includes a winery within a winery, built to focus on ultra premium Pinot Noir production. Its 45 open-top, stainless steel fermentors, massive basket press, P&L secondary sorting line and custom pneumatic punch-down system will support the demands of smaller-lot artisan winemaking.

“The Pinot Room is one of the most impressive facilities in Northern California, dedicated solely to the production of Pinot Noir at the highest levels,” Wilkinson told Wines & Vines.

Production for grapegrowers

While many Bin to Bottle clients are conventional wineries, including virtual wineries looking for new or added capacity, it also produces wine for growers to sell on the bulk market. This has been especially attractive during recent wine surpluses.

The company’s “80/20 program” allows growers to process their grapes with no upfront cost: The resulting wine is sold on the bulk market. Growers and Bin to Bottle split the profits 80/20 respectively. That’s up from a former split of 70/30. Wilkinson said the program is expected to grow with the expansion into the Ramal Estate.

Wilkinson said bulk wine prices have run $15 to $35 per gallon with the average in the $20s. Although most observers expect a short crop this year, some wineries have been slow to commit to fruit. “Growers may find it makes more sense to process the grapes into wine and sell it later, especially if shortages develop,” Wilkinson suggested.

He said Bin to Bottle has already booked more than 3,000 tons of “conventional” production at the Ramal Road winery for the 2011 harvest. In addition to production, Bin to Bottle provides storage services until wine is ready to ship.

Bin to Bottle has a permit to accept fruit from other parts of California, and now processes fruit from Sonoma, Livermore, Sierra Foothills, Lake County and Contra Costa County. For more information, visit bintobottle.com. Contact John Wilkinson at (707) 307-4510, ext. 103, or john@bintobottle.com.

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