Published On: October 20, 2021

EVERYONE Can Be a Winemaker

Judd’s Hill Winery has been around since Judd Finkelstein’s parents purchased the property in the 1970s. However, it is so much more than just a winery, having been touted as “THE Place for Custom Crush Winemaking in Napa Valley” by Food & Wine Magazine.

MicroCrush began for grape growers wanting to have wine made from their grapes. “Friends of my father had issues selling fruit to large wineries to put in their blends and felt they weren’t getting the value they deserved; they knew their fruit was better than that. So, they wanted to make pure varietal wine to be able to show the quality of their fruit,” Judd said.

The business grew as more people heard about it. Judd continued, “Eventually, people who did not have their own grapes started contacting us because they wanted to make their own wine. After a couple of years, we put our first ad in Wine Country Classifieds, and it blew up. Nowadays, we have two main customer bases, vineyard owners and wine enthusiasts.”

Judd’s Hill’s MicroCrush Manager, Susie Dineen added, “We cater to enthusiasts, winemakers, and people with vines in their backyard that don’t know what to do with the fruit. We help them produce the wine from start to finish, including label design, approval, printing, and packaging selection. In addition, we have established a deep network of vendors that MicroCrush vintners are welcome to access.”

Susie explained, “Our custom crush is unique because we produce 150 to 160 one-barrel, half-ton lots. The few facilities that do what we do require larger minimums. People can bring their fruit, we can source fruit for them, or they can select from one of our barrels of ultra-premium wine.” Pricing depends on the appellation, varietal, and market rate, but the one-barrel (24 cases) price tag roughly ranges between four to five thousand dollars, or around $14 to $18 per bottle.

In addition to having the benefits of club membership, MicroCrush vintners enjoy a high level of touch in the winemaking process. They can join in on crush, punch-downs, regular tastings, almost any part of the process they want. Most of the sourced fruit is from Napa Valley vineyards, and clients can pinpoint the AVA and style of wine they prefer. Susie added, “If you only want one bottle, we welcome you to try your hand at winemaking with our Bottle Blending Day Camp experience. That’s the best way to get a bottle or case of personally made Napa Valley wine. That’s the great thing—whether you want one bottle from our day camp or several barrels of ultra-premium wine you’ve had a hand in over several years, Judd’s Hill lets you be your own winemaker.”Story By: Layne Randolph