A week ago, if you asked me to spend part of a sunny weekend in a warehouse doing manual labor, the answer would fall somewhere between “no” and “hell no.” But when the warehouse is Crushpad, and the manual labor involves pressing down grape bins, exceptions can be made.
Crushpad is a wine making facility in Portero Hill / Dogpatch (south of AT&T Park), where hobbyists and semi-pro wine makers alike can make their own batch without having to shell out for a vineyard or winery. Crushpad has relationships with a bunch of vineyards in Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, and the Central Coast. They source the grapes, you pay for them, and then use their facilities for sorting, de-stemming, barreling, and bottling. Pretty good set up, no?
But not all of us have the cash or time to be a part-time winemaker. Fortunately, Crushpad has other ways for people to get into harvest season: Crushcamp. Yes, for a mere $10 you too can learn about, and take part in, the wine making magic.
During my Crushcamp experience, I got to punch down grape bins (including a bin owned by Twitter), which means I took a big metal instrument and stirred up a big pot full of fermenting grapes, making sure the skins at the top wouldn’t dry out. They ooze. They bubble. They smell. And man does it gets messy (and I mean that in the best of ways). In short, you really get to see that wine is a living thing and that winemaking uses up a lot of elbow grease. (ok, now I’ve used up my cliché quota for the day). I had so much fun that I was on an adrenaline high for the rest of the day.
Crushcamp is held 5:30pm on weekdays and 11:30am on weekends during harvest. Run, don’t walk — you’re guaranteed to have a blast!
PS – I’ve put up a full set of Crushcamp photos and a video of a bubbling bin of grapes on Picasa.