Custom crush wineries are becoming very important in Texas, especially for wineries just starting, or existing wineries who would like to improve their wines and also offer more Texas wines. Custom crush is available in the Texas Hill Country and Texas High Plains, and now East Texas has its own custom crush winery with Sages Vintage located near Nacogdoches.
Sages Vintage is owned by Wes Jensen and Michael McClendon. Wes handles the logistics while Michael does the winemaking. The custom crush winery opened in 2017.
We visited Sages Vintage to see what services they offer to wineries, restaurants, and other businesses. The building is an old dairy barn that has been converted into the winery. The front part of the building contains 16 stainless steel tanks (4,500 to 9,000 liters) and barrels, while the back part of the building is still under construction.
Wes and Michael were both there as I made an appointment first and they were expecting us. What I didn’t expect, besides the information on the business, was the chance to try some of the wines they had previously made and also some tastings of unfinished wines.
Sages Vintage currently works with seven wineries from all over the state. They have every right to be proud that some of their wines have already won awards at wine competitions. One of the wineries they work with who has been open since 2014 is Vine 2 Wine Vineyard and Winery. Recent awards from Vine 2 Wine are:
- 2017 Vine 2 Wine Blanc du Bois – Silver Medal – 2018 Lone Star International
- 2017 Vine 2 Wine Orange Muscat – Bronze Medal – 2018 Lone Star International
Some other wineries they work with that are coming soon are Teysha Vineyard and Brewery, Cannon Creek Vineyard, and 12 Fires Winery.
Services offered include any custom item a winery needs to do. This is everything from grape to bottle starting with a full winery startup service including business plan, budgeting, marketing, legal, permitting, or any other services needed.
Grapes can be provided by the winery or Sages Vintage can contract grapes elsewhere. Crushing, fermenting, and the complete winemaking process is done on site, and when complete, bottling of the wine happens there.
When Sages Vintage works with a winery, they can tell them what vineyard the grapes came from. In addition, each winery gets their own tank(s), so multiple wineries are not using the same wine from one tank.
I asked if two wineries want a particular wine and the grapes come from the same vineyard, how can it be ensured that both wines do not taste identical. The answer from Michael was the winery often dictates the style they want for the wine. They will also come into Sages Vintage to taste the wines and tell of any changes needed.
There have been a large number of Texas wineries that have opened in the past year, and from the ones I have visited, most are offering Texas wines, if not 100%, then a high percentage. Custom crush wineries make this possible, and Sages Vintage is one of those to help provide that same benefit.
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