When I think of a winery I envision rows and rows of grape vines. Driving down a country lane between the vines and coming upon a building ( commonly called the winery) where the wines are made.
Well take a reality check by true definition a winery does not need a vineyard. A winery is simply a place were wines are made. Wikepedia states A winery is a building or property that produces wine, or a business involved in the production of wine, such as a wine company.
But what about a virtual Winery ! Virtual breweries are not new but Its the current buzz word for winemakers who use some else's facilities to make their own wine and place their own label on the wine. The winemaker may work independently of the winery where he/she makes their wine or they may actually be employed by the winery.
Virtual wineries are a North American interpretation of the Old World French tradition of wine négociants. Négociants are merchant-vintners who purchase grapes or pre-made wine from growers and then blend, bottle and sell it under their own name. Some better-known virtual wineries in the New World would be from the United States: Underdog Wine's Big House, Fish Eye and Cupcake to name a few. A major New Zealand winery, Kim Crawford, got its start as a virtual winery.
In Ontario back in 1990s Deborah Paskus and Stephen Temkin were among the first winmakers to start their own label using rented facilities, producing their lavishly rich Temkin-Paskus Chardonnay Also Ontario we have Leaning Post Wines and Nyarai Cellars (Steve Byfield). Recently you have Twenty Twenty-Seven Cellars. Allan Jackson and Andrew von Teichman make wines from various Niagara vineyards for their Union virtual winery.In British Columbia we have Sawmill Creek and Ganton & Larsen Prospect Winery, Sola-Nero and Copper Moon Which are just Branding names used by some of the bigger wineries like Vincor and Andrew Pellers. Let us not forget Sandhill made a Calone Winery in Kelowna owned by Andrew Pellers. Another big name is Black Cloud. Black Cloud is the personal label of Bradley Cooper winemaker for Township7.
Carlton Winemakers Studio in Oregon claims to be the nation's first "green" cooperative winemaking facility. The studio, which is a partnership between Eric Hamacher, his wife, Luisa Ponzi of Ponzi Vineyards, along with Ned and Kirsten Lumpkin of Lumpkin Construction in Seattle and Lazy River Vineyard in Yamhill, promises to be an archetype for Oregon's wine industry.
The facility was built in 2002 by a team of visionary winemakers and vineyard owners. Their intent was to build a facility that could provide a location for artisan winemakers to produce quality wines without the prohibitive overhead associated with creating individual winemaking facilities. The result was that and much more. The studio was the first winery in Oregon to register with the US Green Building Council
August Cellars also in Oregon produces about 2500 cases per year and is an Alternating Proprietorship facility; home to six other wineries: Artisanal Wine Cellars, Crowely Wines, Barking Frog, Et Fille, Laura Volkman Cellars and Toluca Lane. The operation is similar to Carlton Studio
In British Columbia the Okanagan Crush Pad will be the Okanagan's home for other virtual wineries, offering a custom crush facility for small wineries that can benefit from shared resources. It began with the open of Haywire Winery owned by Christine Coletta, and her husband Steve Lornie.
The 7,750 square foot Okanagan Crush Pad Winery is located on a 10-acre property in Summerland, BC, known as Switchback Vineyard. The winery is located at the north-west corner of the property and is built partially underground. The facility is not open to the public, but is designed as a co working space for winemakers to work side by side to share ideas and to collaborate. The design aesthetic ‘less is more' is expressed in the state-of-the-art wine cellar with exceptional wine as the outcome. The look is clean, crisp, and modern.
So what is the bottom line here. Are the wines good. Of course they are! The number one factor is where do the grapes come from. The secret to making good wines is good grapes. The winemaker may add his or her special touches and by doing so they provided you with choices.
If your looking for a tour among the vines and a fantastic tasting bar Virtual wineries may not be the way to plan your trip.