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The Crush Club in Wallingford, CT is a wine lover’s dream… the chance to make your own wine!  We first met The Crush Club team at the Mohegan Sun Winefest and fell in love with their business model and passion for good wine.  As two people who love visiting vineyards and breweries, this really sparked out interest!  And we got to go check it out for ourselves and had an awesome day hanging out with The Crush Club Crew.

Whether you’re new to wine making or you’ve been doing it for years, The Crush Club provides you the unique opportunity to hand craft your own special vintage.  What’s really exciting is that they actually source grapes from California, Washington, Italy, and Chile! And that’s not all – they can get grapes from anywhere!!  Do you like Spanish wines?  Do you like French wines?  You name it, they can work to get it.

Using state of the art equipment and grapes true to the region, the wine turns out even better than what you’ll find in-store.

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The owner, Frank Martone, and right-hand marketing guru, Amanda Brackett, have turned the place into a home of their own.  As soon as you walk in the door, friends and associates will welcome you with open arms.  It’s kind of like walking into an Italian household full of of friends and family.  You’ll feel right at home at the long farm table and open kitchen.  Don’t forget to bring snacks!  Cheese, crackers, fruit, and sandwiches filled the table and we were encouraged to “help ourselves… eat, eat!!” Yep… just like being at home! Hey.. making wine has been bringing people together for centuries.  And Frank personally invites you to be part of the experience.

Before you start, you’ll want to decide on what you want to make.  Do you want to make a Pinot Noir?  Chardonnay?  Do you want to make a blend?  Once you decide on that, Amanda will order the grapes for you.  Once they arrive, here’s how it works:

Step 1: Crushing

This is a hands on experience!  Dump the grapes into the crusher start the all important fermentation process.  No, no need to wash your toes… the machine crushes and de-stems the grapes in one swoop.

Step 2: Pressing

Seven to ten days after you crush, you return to the shop to press your grapes. Here you will take the fermented must and transfer it into the press. Gentle pressing extracts the juice and now the liquid is ready for aging. Take a taste…and think of what will become.

Next, they transfer the pressed liquid into your own oak barrel. Here it sits to age. Be sure to come and visit your barrel in the coming months. A great time to barrel taste!

Step 3: Racking

About half way through the process, you come back to the shop to rack your wine. When you rack, the wine is pumped out of the barrel and into a fermentation tub. You will then clean the sediment out of the barrel and pump the wine back into the barrel. A quick step, but a necessary one. Racking aids in the stabilization and clarification of your wine.

Step 4: Bottling, corking, and labeling

Caution: This may get a little crazy! The most fun of all. About twelve months after your first visit to The Crush Club, the wine has finished aging and you begin what they call “The Assembly Line”. The wine is gravity fed into the bottling machine, then you hit it with the automatic corker. Next, you place a capsule on the top of the bottle and heat seal it.  They have a variety of labels for you to choose from that will truly customize your wine and make it your own!

Step 5: Sipping!

Enjoy the fruits of your labor.  Sit back, relax, and enjoy!

Ok… so how much?  Well, it depends on what you pick!  Here’s a quick breakdown:

  • The Crush Club offers a full barrel (240 or 280 bottles, depending if you choose French or American oak), half barrel (120 bottles) or there’s a co-op option (three case minimum @ $180/ case).
  • The pricing ranges from $11 to $15 a bottle, depending on the varietal or blend you choose. French Oak barrels yield 280 bottles and American Oak yield 240 bottles, so it’s a great activity to do with a group.
  • If you would like to make a smaller quantity, you are more than welcome to participate in the co-op.  Each season they pick a few popular varietals and blends, and make a few barrels. You participate in the making of all the co-op barrels and at the end of the process, leave with a mix of different wines.  There is a three case co-op minimum, but you are able to purchase single cases after that. Cases cost $180 per case — that’s $15 a bottle. This includes everything… Grapes, barrel, bottles corks and custom labels.

Interested!?!??!  Yeah – so are we.

The Crush Club

65 South Colony Road
Wallingford, CT 06492

Phone: 1-203-626-9545

Email: info@thecrushclub.net

Thanks to the wine thief for letting us sneak a taste!

Thanks to the wine thief for letting us sneak a taste!

Pick your poiZin!

Pick your poiZin!

More from the bottling process

More from the bottling process

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The bottling process

The bottling process

More of the bottling process

More of the bottling process

Steel aging ...

Steel aging …

Labeling ... the possibilities are endless! Another fun way to get creative :)

Labeling … the possibilities are endless! Another fun way to get creative 🙂

The Rhône was FANTASTIC! We got to try it for ourselves :)

The Rhône was FANTASTIC! We got to try it for ourselves 🙂

For all the Italian wine lovers... check out this Super Tuscan!

For all the Italian wine lovers… check out this Super Tuscan!

The aging process

The aging process

Foiling the tops of the bottles

Foiling the tops of the bottles

Barrel aging a wide variety of wines

Barrel aging a wide variety of wines