1) Why the emergence and surge in Urban Wineries?
I think a lot of this emergence is aided by the growth of the brewing scene in San Diego’s urban areas. This is also not a new phenomenon around the State of California as there are typically areas in each wine region where wineries have conglomerated into commercial or industrial areas to make wine. See Wine Ghetto in Lompoc (Santa Ynez) as one example. The same exists in the downtown areas of Healdsburg, Sonoma, and Paso Robles. The benefit is that customers can visit more wineries that are close together often in one location. The other benefit for wineries is the cost of setting up infrastructure on a vineyard property can often be a lot more expensive than taking advantage of existing industrial facilities in commercial areas.
2) Tell me more about the differences between an Urban Winery and a typical winery?
Urban wineries typically don’t have grapevines growing on site but the wine is produced there with grapes that are brought in from different vineyards. The grapes that are used to make the wines are typically sourced from farmers around the county and state that focus on growing and not necessarily winemaking. A traditional winery will usually be on a vineyard in a rural setting and will use most of their own grapes that they grow locally. So, typically an Urban Winery will have a wider variety of wines since they source from different regions that specialize in different grape varietals. At 2Plank Vineyards we are unique in that in addition to our 2 winey and tasting room locations we also own and manage several vineyards around the county. Most urban wineries do not own off site vineyards and most traditional wineries do not make their wine in an urban setting or have urban tasting rooms. So, we kind of have the best of both worlds and I like to think that it shows in our wines. Winemaking starts in the vineyard so the more control you have over that process the most control you have over the quality of your wines.
3) What do you want people to understand about urban wineries?
The wines are all made exactly the same way that they are made in a traditional winery. The grapes are brought in straight from the vineyard just like they would be normally except that they just may need to travel a farther distance to get to the winery. The grapes don’t care where they turn into wine.
4) How is an urban winery different than a tasting room?
A tasting room is a different license (like a wine bar). While the urban wineries have a tasting room it is also where wine production takes place. This is permit is referred to as an “02 Winemaking” permit and does require that wines are produced on site. Just like breweries and distilleries also have specific permits they need to produce alcohol. A tasting room (alone) would typically be more in the bar or restaurant category and don’t typically have folks on site that are as intimately knowledgeable about how each wine was made. So, the Urban Winery experience is usually a lot more educational.