Crushpad Mashup 2010: End of an Era, Beginning of Another by valleyfog

Crushpad's Illinois Street entrance in San Francisco

Crushpad held its last major event, its client Mashup, in its San Francisco location today, before the urban winery moves to Napa Valley next month.

The Mashup is an annual event where Crushpad clients, like Waits-Mast Family Cellars, pour and share barrel samples with each other and with friends.

We had already tasted barrel samples last week and earlier this year, so the event for us was less about scrutinizing wines and more about savoring the last few moments at Crushpad’s urban winery before it moves to wine country.

The Crushpad staff pulled samples of three of our 2009 wines still in barrel, our Amber Ridge, La Encantada and Hayley’s vineyard pinot noirs. Unlike the fancy wood-fired pizzas served at last year’s Mashup, the culinary fare was back to basics with the delicious and familiar El Tonayense taco trucks that have graced the Mashups of yesteryear. We also ran into fellow clients making wine at Crushpad as well as answered questions from prospective clients checking out the almost-finished goods.

We recalled our first barrel tasting in July, 2005 at Crushpad, back in its Bryant Street location, where we sampled 2004 pinot noir (their first vintage) and then proceeded to sign up for our first barrel of wine. And then later that year, spending another hour with Crushpad CEO Michael Brill tasting through the pinot barrels as we made our vineyard decision (Amber Ridge – a wise choice!) and spending two hours with then-winemaker Scott Shapley (now head winemaker at Roessler) mapping out the plan for our wine before the 2005 harvest. And of course, we have a special place in our hearts for the first Mashup we went to in 2006, where we wheeled in our newborn daughter to join in the festivities.

Crushpad pretties up the loading dock for the Mashup crowds

So it was these reminiscences and lots of conversation with the Crushpad staff that focused our afternoon as we continue to process this move of the winery to Napa’s Silverado Trail.

Jennifer was recently interviewed by the New York Times about the move and how we’ll miss the urban winemaking experience that Crushpad pioneered when it opened its doors in 2004. For us, their business model and incredible team of people have helped us realize not only mere aspirations of making our own barrel of wine, but unimaginable dreams of actually selling wine and gaining critical acclaim for our pinot noir. And all of this conveniently located minutes from our home and work.

The 2010 Mashup splatters to an end

But just as we would have never predicted all of the great things that have happened with Waits-Mast Family Cellars in the last five years, we’re excited to see what unfolds in the next five years and beyond as we join Crushpad in making our wine up in Napa with the 2010 crush.

We’ll miss the proximity and the clear distinction of being urban winemakers and will have to deal with a lot more driving and juggling of our busy schedules. Through it all, we still consider ourselves fog-bound urban winemakers – we are city folk!

One of the most compelling parts of the move, though, will be actually having the opportunity to pour and sell our wines at the tasting room they’ll be setting up at the winery. With millions of tourists trolling through Napa every year, we’re hoping to expand our visibility to people visiting wine country.

Dave and Stu soaking up the final days at Crushpad SF

And spending time up in Napa definitely doesn’t suck. If you’ve never been, it’s worth a trip. Despite the busloads of tourists, the landscape is incredible and so are the people, wines and restaurants.

While Crushpad will embrace many of the desirable trappings of Napa, we hope it remains decidedly un-Napa in its soul. That means we still expect to hear The Clash and Black Sabbath blaring through the winery sound system.

So as I mentioned to Jennifer as we walked out of Crushpad’s Dogpatch location probably for the last time, “home is where you make it.” We’re looking forward to visiting the new home for our wines, and hopefully still seeing a lot of our old friends from Crushpad.


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