I think it is an idea whose time has come. For years, we have played along with the idea of wineries being quaint country-side weekend getaways. And while it is fun to visit them, the reality is that most wineries truck in a lot of the grapes they use from other farmers.
Kristina Shevory of the New York Times has an excellent piece on the rising group of urban wineries. They let go of the pretense, acquire the grapes they desire, and make wine to their own standards. I think this is a good thing. America has gone through quite a renaissance with craft beer brewing and it would be a welcome sight if we could do the same for wine and whiskey.
Stratospheric land prices keep many vintners city-bound. Without deep pockets, winemakers can’t afford to buy vineyard land, which can cost as much as $100,000 an acre in well-known areas like Napa, or to build a fancy chateau for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Buying land, planting vines and building a winery is then largely left to those who have made their fortunes in other professions.
“My wife and I are academics; we didn’t come from software or Wall Street. This is what we could afford,” said Tim Sorenson, the winemaker and co-owner, with his wife, Nancy Rivenburgh, at Fall Line Winery in Seattle and an economics professor. “It’s not romantic, but it works.”