Custom-made Wines on the Rise

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30% annual growth for AZ winery in recession

Wines taste different with different foods. The same wine can taste significantly different depending on when and where you drink it, and with what.

It’s not a winemaking demonstration. It’s not even a lesson. It is, however, a rare, do-it-yourself experience in wine creation among oak barrel-studded walls and glass jugs filled with various shades of wine. The customers of Casavino Custom Winery walk the walk of winemaking, from juice selection to corked, shrink-wrapped bottles. For nearly three years now, father and son duo, Joe and Jordan Burglin, owners of Casavino, have defied the current recession by helping customers make their own wine.

Some say the Greeks were the pioneer winemakers. Others claim it was the Egyptians; and biblical scriptures claim it was Noah. However, few debate the role in recent centuries that the Mediterranean countries have played in the development of this tasteful art. In our own country, the Napa and Lodi Valleys in California get the vote. The lure of the unknown—just how this elixir is made—is today creating a surge in winemaking.

Casavino’s popularity and success has grown every year, with a 30% increase in 2009 sales over last year, and with many customers driving 4-5 hours to the winery to produce their favorite wine. Seventy-eight percent of the Burglin’s business is winemaking; only 20% constitutes purchases by the bottle or glass; and 2% is wholesale sales to local restaurants.

The Burglins provide a choice of over 200 different wines. “Any wine in a store can be made here in four to six weeks, from start to finished product,” states Jordan. “Many people think wines should be aged before they’re consumed, but few realize that the vast majority of commercial red wines are aged less than 2 years. And white wines don’t have to be aged.” White “Zin”, for instance, is the typical “first run” of batches made from zinfandel grapes.

Ask 100 people what the difference is between red and white wine, and the over-riding answer will be red and white grapes. Wine is made from the juice of grapes, however, and all juices are clear. Red wines result when the skins are not removed, but are left in contact with the juice. Plus, it is the added tannin from the skins and seeds that give red wines their characteristic, full-bodied flavor.

The Burglins enjoy dispelling “wine myths”. A popular belief is that the sulfites in red wines can give people headaches. “The fact is,” states Joe, “that white wines contain sulfites, just like red wines. Sulfites are also present in deli meats and other foods. What may be causing the headaches,” he suggests, “is the chemicals and other ingredients that many wineries use in order to get the wines into the stores faster. Another culprit may be malolactic fermentation, a process in red wine that is bacterial-based rather than yeast-based.”

Joe also cautions people during wine tastings, “Wines taste different with different foods. The same wine can taste significantly different depending on when and where you drink it, and with what.” Specific wines appeal to specific palates. Connoisseurs artfully match a wine to the accompanying food. To the average wine lover, however, the opportunity to create their own wine constitutes a dream come true.

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Scott Barber
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