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Democratizing the Wine Industry

By Columns FOXBusiness

Democratizing the Wine Industry

Michael Brill, founder and chairman of the Board of Crushpad, details the wine-making process that his company has created that lets consumers choose their level of involvement.

I sometimes think it would be really fun to make my own wine. But then I remember that fabulous "I Love Lucy" episode, where she was in the barrel, barefoot, stomping grapes with that Italian woman who didn’t speak English, and I second guess the notion of grapes in my toes.

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Thankfully, the process has evolved, and Michael Brill, the founder of Crushpad, has made it even easier for novices like me.

Not only do you not need to get in the barrel barefoot, you don’t even have to be on location to make your own wine.

Crushpad is a winery that lets you be the wine maker. Brill and his team provide the grapes, the staff and the equipment. You get to pick everything: the type of wine you want to create, the grape sorting, fermentation, pressing, aging, blending, package design and bottling. You work directly with your own winemaker either in person or online.

While many clients go to the winery once or twice a year to participate in some of the process (like the harvest activities and blending), Brill says you can do a lot via Skype and taste the samples they mail to you.

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Now it’s not cheap, so you need to get a bunch of people together--but it could be a fun project among friends.

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But my favorite part? You can name your own wine!  

What would you call yours?

Mine? Tre Angeli…after my three angels.

Cent’ Anni!

Questions for Our Wine Pro

What is your death row wine?

Hmmm, what do murderers like to drink? About 15 years ago, I bought a bottle of 1795 Madeira (Terrantez Barbeito) and have been looking for a reason to drink it. There's probably no better reason than being on death row, and absolutely no chance of a hangover the day.

What region produces the best wine?

Impossible to answer... because the definition of "best" depends on what you're eating and how you're feeling. Sometimes there's no arguing that a classified growth from Pauillac is the best while other times a big Pinot Noir from Sta. Rita Hills does the trick.

What is the best wine and food pairing you’ve ever had?

The very first time I had Sauternes and foie gras - I was 27 years old on my first trip to London, eating at some super-formal stuffy restaurant. I never imaged two things could complement each other so well.

What will the U.S. wine industry look like in 10 years?

For better or worse, much like it looks today! The wine industry is notoriously slow to evolve. Some of this is tradition, some of it is a fairly entrenched distribution system and some of it stems from the fact that it takes 7-10 years between planting a vineyard and having a wine available in the market, so what can happen in six months in some industries takes six years in wine.

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