Crushing It

Wineries find success with help from custom crush facilities

Dustin Andries, head winemaker at Naumes Crush and Fermentation, sampling wine in a barrel. ##Photo by Karen Adair
NW Wine Company s sprawling Dundee campus, including Hyland Estates  tasting room. ##Photo provided by NW Wine Company
A peek inside Pallet Wine Company s barrel room within the converted historic Cooley-Neff warehouse building in downtown Medford. ##Photo by Megan Stefenn of Untapped Media
A tractor delivering harvested grapes to Gold Hill s Del Rio winemaking facility. ##Photo provided by Del Rio Vineyard Estate
Barrels and tanks line the walls of the Barrel 42 Winecraft facility. ##Photo provided by Barrel 42 Winecraft

By Paula Bandy

Custom Crush means making wine in a licensed, equipped winery with guidance from the facility management team. Clients Mark Deering, co-owner of Dos Mariposas Vineyard & Lavender and Meghann Walk, general manager of Hummingbird Estate, say they couldn’t be in the wine business without these services. Custom crush patrons rely on the winemaking facility to acquire the necessary equipment, space, overhead and capital investment. They also benefit from hiring a team of trained experts who guide and oversee the winemaking process– another advantage of both time and money.

Custom crush facilities represent a surging segment of today’s wine industry. It seems everyone has consistently increased both production and space. As Anne Sery, director of winemaking at NW Wine Company, says, “It’s a good problem to have.”

NW Wine Company, Dundee, Willamette Valley

In 2003, Laurent Montalieu opened the first custom crush in the Willamette Valley. From that point, NW Wine Company’s ‘à la carte’ winemaking services, vineyard portfolio and facilities have flourished.

Recalls Sery, “Our first wine facility was in a renovated former Pillsbury pie plant in McMinnville. In 2011, a new space was built in Dundee, initially producing about 1200 tons. Since then, our business model hasn’t really changed much. We handle about one-third of each: custom crush, our own labels and private brands. But,” she adds, “after a decade, we had outgrown the new location. We had hundreds of 2 ½ -12-ton tanks we moved around all year, so we added another 10,000 sq. ft. to accommodate them. In 2023, we processed 6,800 tons. Because we continue to grow like crazy, we’re constructing a 48,000 square foot facility specifically for high-end custom crush.”

After 20 years in business, they prefer the term “custom winemaking” as it best describes their services. NW Wine Company includes everything from growing and resourcing grapes, making and bottling wine for 12-13 clients, from 800 cases, up to 60,000, along with creating and marketing their own brands in 28 states, and managing their own 1,200 vineyard acres and others. They even have a tasting room for their renowned Hyland Estates wine in Dundee.

“We’re very excited about the new facility” Sery states, “We’ve been doing high-end wines but we’re not known for it because we haven’t advertised it. People see us as a big winery, and don’t realize all the small batches we craft. Our average lot size is 300 cases– we make a ton of tiny lots. We try to focus on single-block, single-vineyard, high-end wines. We have a strong winemaking team of five on-site winemakers, with over 150 years of culminated experience.”

Barrel 42 Custom Winecraft, Jacksonville, Applegate Valley

Herb Quady, Nichole Schulte and Brian Gruber founded Barrel 42 Custom Winecraft in 2014. The original Barrel 42 custom crush began in an old pear processing plant in Medford. In 2022, they moved to their new, expansive 24,000 square foot Applegate Valley facility, with production space for 50,000 cases. It also houses Quady North’s tasting room. The custom crush operation is not only Oregon Tilth-certified organic but also LIVE-certified.

While Barrel 42 produces many varieties of wines, for both large and small clients, as well as their own Quady North label, they’ve become the Southern Oregon sparkling specialist, including production in Méthode Champenoise. Around 2015, at Quady’s request, Schulte took on the challenge of making Barrel 42’s first sparkling wine. But, to do so, they had to employ vendors “up north.” With Quady North wine as the research subject, they learned to make high-quality sparkling wines.

After installing equipment and production for a complete sparkling wine line, they are now “able to produce sparkling wine from grape to bottle in-house,” Schulte says. “It also allowed us to offer the service to others through the custom crush business. We started with nothing and brought it up to a full-scale sparkling,” she continues, “I’m really proud to say not all, but most, sparkling wine from Southern Oregon producers has come through this winery in one way or another. Whether through consultation and/or production, Barrel 42 has been integral in getting Southern Oregon sparklings on the shelf.”

Pallet Wine Company, Medford, Rogue Valley

In 2009, Linda Donovan opened the first custom crush and private label wine facility in Southern Oregon. Inside the historic Cooley-Neff warehouse building in downtown Medford, the original 24,000 sq. ft. structure was renovated into Pallet Wine Company. What she immediately learned, when in the throes of plumbing updates, was the building was situated on what was “Fruit Alley,” which ran along Fir Street. The existing sewer line was large enough to accept the large volumes of water generated during the winemaking process.

Regarding custom crush, Donovan says, “It’s a cost-effective way for people to enter into the wine industry. You don’t have to buy a building, invest in equipment, hire staff or understand government compliance and regulations.” While maintaining a full range of custom crush services, Pallet also supports clients by shipping directly to consumers. They have over 25 local clients and others in five states.

In 2014, Donovan acquired the building adjacent to the winery. “It shared a wall with the historic building. By cutting a 12-foot opening, we instantly gained 10,000 square feet of additional production space.” Two years later, Donovan purchased the rest of the block, which was vacant land. Since that time, she another building, with a spacious barrel room and nine new tanks, increasing production by 400 tons.

Today, the entire city block is devoted to winemaking. Now called City Center Wine District, it features two distinctive tasting rooms for clients’ wines and her labels: L Donovan and District Wine. The Urban Cork tasting room pours more than 150 local wines, all crafted by Pallet Wine Company. Donovan’s model of buying back her clients’ wines, and then selling them through her tasting room and wine club is unique. “We’re very user-friendly,” she says, “We do as much as we can for our clients.”

Naumes Crush & Fermentation, Medford, Rogue Valley

In fall 2015, after growing fruit commercially for more than a century, Naumes Crush & Fermentation completed a 23,000 sq. ft custom crush operation in an old packing warehouse. Executive vice president and COO Laura Naumes says, “As the tanks were arriving, so were the grapes.”

They currently have about 20 custom crush clients. Winemaker Dustin Andries, says, “Most are very small production– 200 gallons or less per label. Last fall, we crafted 204 unique wine lots. Most wineries do 10-11. It’s a massive operation in full swing come harvest time.”

Both Naumes and Andries agree their business, tailored for each client, actually begins in the vineyard. Andries explains, “We encourage client involvement; hosting multiple meetings, samplings and tastings. We want them to feel like a winemaker in that sense. We pride ourselves on doing that extra work with them and have found great success with this model. Our clients really appreciate it.”

Their own brand, Naumes Suncrest Winery, is located in a family farmhouse surrounded by vineyards, with 360-degree Rogue Valley views. Andries says, “Grape to bottle, we do everything here. It’s a big challenge but also an incredible, creative experience. We process everything, not solely Pinot and Chardonnay, but a plethora of different wine varietals.”

Del Rio Vineyard Estate, Gold Hill, Rogue Valley

“Making wine for others is a large part of what we do,” says Jean-Michel Jussiaume, winemaker for Del Rio Vineyard Estate. “If you’re from another state and enjoyed an Oregon Pinot Noir, chances are you’ve tasted some grapes from Del Rio.” A significant amount of the grapes from Del Rio’s 530-acre vineyards are allocated for their custom crush operation. “Our custom crush services have developed the most rapidly. We produce juice or bulk wine, along with full processing for some clients,” says estate owner Rob Wallace. Oregon distribution started in 2007, with out-of-state the following year. But, as Jussiaume clarifies, they provide custom crush, “but not for small labels.”

In 2000, Del Rio began selling grapes to wineries around Oregon. The business quickly grew from farm to winery with a full custom crush operation. Once home to the Del Rio Orchard pear packing and storage facility, Del Rio’s winery can now process over 4,000 tons of grapes a year. Their bulk wine continues to expand its reach, landing in many states around the country. It’s even traveled internationally with a large private-label project going all the way to China.
An historic stagecoach stop has been renovated into a welcoming tasting room flanked by sprawling, hillside vineyard blocks. Their three brands; Del Rio, Rock Point and Jolee are always available for visitors to purchase.

The Why of It

The growth of custom crush facilities allows winegrowers to create outlets for their grapes, along with more diversity and consistent quality for the wine drinker. Hummingbird’s Walk says, “Our family knew we purchased a truly stunning site and were confident our grapes would make stellar wine– in the right hands. We chose to focus on what we do best– hospitality and farming the land.” She continues, “When we were introduced to the Naumes family, everything fell into place. We too are a ‘farm family’ going back generations. With Naumes Crush & Fermentation investing in state-of-the-art equipment, we are confident that, even with vintage variation, Hummingbird Estate will always offer quality wine.”

Along with supporting winemakers and grape producers, custom crush services offer possibilities. By utilizing cooperative environments, winegrowers can create high-quality wine production private labels for individual consumers and the corporate world. From tasting rooms to private labels for special events, such as weddings and anniversaries, to specialty wines for fundraising and auctions, the use of custom crush facilities creates innovative collaboration. Custom crush allows a winning partnership for quality winemaking, along with the chance to live the “winemaker romance."

Paula Bandy, a writer transplant from the flatlands of Illinois to the mountains of Southern Oregon, is currently the bi-weekly wine columnist for Rogue Valley Times. She’s covered wine, lifestyle, food and home for Southern Oregon Magazine, and additional national and international academic publications. She was a writer and on-air commentator for Jefferson Public Radio, the Southern Oregon University NPR affiliate, for a decade. She’s also a Certified Sherry Wine Specialist (CSWS) and jewelry designer, pb~bodyvine. Connect with her at

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