Saturday, October 15, 2005

Brew your own damn wine and beer

Yesterday we saw a business idea that at first blush, seems great. It's Water 2 Wine and they call themselves a custom winery. I'm not sure if that is accurate, but what you do is make your own wine. The store wasn't open yet, but the guy let us look around. The set up is a tasting room, where they say they have more than 100 wines from 12 countries. You get to taste wines and when you find the one you want, you can make it. Since they are technically selling you grapes, there is not the taxes.

We didn't get to see the process, but we think they are selling wine kits that have the crushed grapes. It's almost as simple as adding the yeast and there you go. The store takes care of the primary and secondary fermination for you, so you simply come back in 45 days and your 5 gallons of wine is ready. You pick out your bottles, make labels and you have 2 cases of wine.

Doug and I thought this was a great business idea and started working through the idea. Basically we do the same process at home when we make wine (from the kits -- although generally we make it from scratch, where we have to crush the fruit). For folks who aren't homebrewers, they could get a taste of what it is like to make wine without being worried about equipment costs or being intimidated by the process. We actually pictured folks getting together like at a Paint Your Pottery place and making their own wine.

Then we did the numbers. The cost for wine kits, yeast, bottles, etc. Would run about $150. Of course that's retail, but that's what we had to go on. The store would almost have to sell the process at $200 per batch. That's not unreasonable, but the store would have to do quite a few $200 kits to pay for rent and turn a profit. We just started wondering how many folks a week would be willing to pay $200 to make their own wine. Of course, we didn't talk prices with this guy so we don't know what they are actually selling the wine for. We still think it's a great concept, we're just not ready to start our own store.

On the other hand, Doug is taking the beer brewing to the next level. He wondered if he could started a brew your own beer business, but I reminded him there is a cooking process involved and it's a bit more complicated. Not that he couldn't do it, but with wine, you can get that going in a matter of minutes, not hours. Anyway, Doug and Robert are going to take the final step and go to all grain brewing. Right now they do what's called mini-mash, which is some grain and some extracted. Robert is building an all-grain set up which will be brought to our house Monday. In the meantime, Robert has bought a fridge that he is going to turn into a kegerator for his house. That means that we are getting his two tap kegerator here at the house. Doug says that will get the kegs out of the extra fridge we have in the garage.

I was happy about that until he told me that freeing up the fridge will allow them to use it so they can make lagers. Somehow he is pulling one over on me because when he brought that fridge home he told me we would use it to chill wine and soft drinks and that I could use it for food storage when we had a party. I can't even fit a tiramisu in it, much less party trays. Oh well, who needs to serve food when you have beer. In fact, I think we now have beer in some form or another in every room in the house except our bedroom and the bathrooms. I'm sure if he thinks about it, Robert will figure out a way to but a kegerator in the bathroom as well.

No comments: