The new Sugarloaf Crush facility in Kenwood is built with all the modern amenities of an ultra-premium winery, home to prestigious brands, but not built for any one brand, winery, or winemaker.
“We’re a fully specialized custom crush facility,” says General Manager Ronald Du Preez, “We’re not a winery that’s leasing out extra space; there’s no existing brand that puts our clients in the background. We actually want our clients to be the face of Sugarloaf Crush.”
Sugarloaf Crush focuses on the ultra-premium segment of the wine business and attracts artisanal winemakers that are looking for the highest level of quality and service to craft their stellar wines. Du Preez says, “What we are able to provide here is access to all of the most technologically advanced winemaking tools, such as a state-of-the-art processing line used by some of the most prestigious wineries like Opus One, Vineyard 29, and William Selyem. A smaller producer starting in the business would not generally make such a large capital investment.”
However, having all the best equipment including Vaslin Bucher Oscyllis destemmers with vibrating berry sorting tables, an optical sorter, bladder and basket presses, peristaltic pumps, and fully jacketed, TankNet controlled fermenters, is only the first step. The second is a strong commitment to service and quality.
“Great service is knowing what your client needs even before they ask for it,” says Du Preez, “That’s the level of service we strive to provide our clients, and obviously that comes with an extremely well-trained staff.”
Sugarloaf Crush has two experienced winemakers on staff that review client work orders before cellar staff execute them. “It’s an extra level of service and quality control, so if something doesn’t look right, we can contact the client to get it right, and they can be assured that their wines are treated with the utmost care,” says Du Preez.
An innovative feature of the facility that makes the custom crush process more efficient and transparent is Innovint, a cloud-based wine and order tracking system. Du Preez explains, “The clients write their own work orders within this very simple and user-friendly system. The work order is placed in the tracking system, and as our staff completes the work in the cellar, it is logged in realtime, and notifications are pushed through to the client’s app.
“They can see that their grapes are being processed at that time, that they’re in this particular tank, they have real-time access to all their lot and analysis information.”
Another unique opportunity that Sugarloaf Crush will provide its custom crush clients is the use of a commercial kitchen and dining rooms for entertaining wine guests, distributor partners, or hosting a wine club pick up party. In contrast to many other custom crush facilities housed in industrial warehouse space, Sugarloaf occupies a traditional winery setting and overlooks the beautiful Sonoma Valley, providing the right atmosphere and experience for the consumer to match with the high-quality wines produced there.
“The option to host events here is an extension of our desire to provide the best possible service and make our clients feel that Sugarloaf is just as much their winery as it is ours,” says Du Preez.