You hear about these “garagistes” going from plonk obscurity to ultra-premium winemaking superstars, but you have to wonder, “How does this happen, and why can’t it be ME?!”

So, if you’ve ever sat swirling a budget blend and wondering to yourself, “How do they do it?,” here’s how. In fact, there are two ways. The first is to start with a ton of money. They say the best way to make a million dollars in the wine industry is to start with two million. So let’s dismiss that option out of hand. The other option is to start small at one of these communes for starry-eyed hopefuls known as the “custom crush facility.” To make it big here all you’ll need is unwavering passion, some naïve friends (no really, bottling is a BLAST), and the patience of an oyster.

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If you don’t have several million dollars burning a hole in your pocket, then custom crush winemaking is your stepping stone to fame and glory. Santa Rosa is home to one of the most respected custom crush facilities in the industry. Formerly Copain Custom Crush, Punchdown Cellars has helped launch boutique local wine producers like Cartograph Wines, Lioco Wines, and Dirty & Rowdy Family Winery.

Then, who knows? With a little luck, some hard work, and red toes, you may find yourself rubbing elbows with the Sonoma vinerati.