There are many bespoke crushing facilities in Napa Valley, but The Wine Foundry’s program is particularly interesting for its approach of giving budding entrepreneurs the tools they need to make their wine visions a reality.
Founders and owners Valerie and Philip Von Burg (a lawyer and business consultant, respectively) are a married couple whose love of wine, food, and travel brought them to Northern California, but it is pure coincidence that they landed on a defunct vineyard and all of its inventory – and had the courage and vision to buy it in 2012.
Winemaker Patrick Saboe, who had worked with the old property, put his skills to work for the new concept, and the trio launched what has been a very successful multi-faceted wine business. In addition to bespoke crushing services, they make their own wine under two different labels and have relationships with top winemakers who work with some of California’s most sought-after wineries, so their bespoke crush customers can choose from a variety of wine brands. range of options.
The possibilities that present themselves to the customers of The Wine Foundry are not so different from the history of Von Burgs, in that they involve an intersection of talent and serendipity. If a customer comes with their own grapes and winemaking experience, all that might be needed is a facility in which to do the work, and The Wine Foundry offers a state-of-the-art facility. Another customer might want a full service experience with an end product of corporate gifts or bottles to help with nonprofit fundraising. Some people just want to bottle wine for personal consumption and to give as gifts.
Then there are clients like Aamira Garba, who were successful early in their careers. By the age of 30, she had ticked off much of her wishlist – and she was already married, had two beautiful children and a happy life, as well as a big corporate job in marketing that did more than pay the bills, a job she really loved. But she admitted that she was not fulfilled. She ran into Paolo Coelhois the alchemist, a book that sparked in her a desire for something more, and she decided to stop overthinking and start “following the signs”.
Garba visited Napa Valley and started learning about wine, and she especially connected with Stuart Ake, The Wine Foundry’s principal educator. She also started the WSET program and worked her way through two levels before COVID hit. (She plans to upgrade to level 3 as soon as possible.) She says “Stuart made me feel like I could do anything,” which was a big deal considering she didn’t have any mentors. in the space. After just a little bit of self-confidence, Garba launched his own brand, LoveLee Wine, which unites his love of food, travel and wine.
It’s no small feat that this black, female-owned brand has excelled in a white male-dominated world, and it’s no accident either. Garba says The Wine Foundry has supported her in every essential way that has enabled her to make her vision a reality. Today her label has a dedicated following, and she also takes her sommelier hat on the road as a speaker on podcasts, guest writer for blogs and wine enthusiast who lives her fearless life.
The Wine Foundry offers customers the flexibility to choose their own vineyards, a winemaking plan that includes vineyard monitoring updates, blend and finish options, and a design package that lets you select the bottle, cap, cap and label that suits your brand.
The sky is the limit, and the stories that come out of this 21st century creative adventure are downright inspiring.