Napa Valley’s New Competition from Crushpad Vintners in Foster City


Written by:

Joe Becerra

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Could two small Vintners from Foster City and others like them be a possible challenge and take a piece of the pie from the Napa Valley wine market? Probably not, but with over 100 Crushpad clients making and selling as much 1000 cases of wine, something has to give.

We met the owners of Jazz Cellars at the Family Winemakers event in San Francisco. We tasted their wines and thought they were very well made. We wanted to find out more so last week we sat down with the two aspiring winery owners of Jazz Cellars of Foster City.

Bob Smith and Joe Lazzara are the partners in this venture. They live across the street from one another in Foster City and are both retired from the high tech industry. Four years ago after doing some home winemaking, they decided to become real winemakers and set out to the Crushpad in San Francisco to set up shop. The Crushpad provides everything one needs to make and sell wine and that includes software that tracks sales and inventory and most importantly all the licensing and compliance issues of the State of California and the ABC. With services available at the Crushpad and the custom crush facilities throughout wine country, a “New Breed” of winemaker has emerged; ones that can make wine without owning a single vineyard, any winemaking equipment, or storage barrels. Often, the wines are made using a consulting winemaker.

Joe Lazzara and Bob Smith of Jazz Cellars
Joe Lazzara and Bob Smith of Jazz Cellars

So, how are Bob and Joe doing in their wine business? Well, they have not made a profit as yet but they are on their way. Firstly, they need to make good wine and they appear to being doing just that. They have already sold out of their 2005 Petite Sirah. They need to price their wines above the costs of their Crushpad payout. This is a delicate balance because making wine at the Crushpad is not exactly cheap, and the wines have to be at a price point that consumers will find to be of value. The next is the hardest, marketing their wine. Bob and Joe are beating down the doors of restaurants in the Bay Area and have been successful in getting their wines into a few restaurants. They also work the wine bar scene, hoping to get an evening where their wines are featured and sold. They have been able to do a few of these as well. They also work fundraising events and talk to wine groups. Word of mouth is important, so Bob and Joe are constantly marketing the wines whenever and wherever opportunity knocks.

Jazz Cellars’ case production is around 700 cases and they make a Pinot Noir, a Viognier, a Syrah, and a Petite Sirah. The immediate goal is to go to 1000 cases and then after that, perhaps embark on something much more. Good luck to Jazz Cellars.

  • Joe Becerra

    Joe Becerra has been traveling to wine country and enjoying wine since 1965. He is a retired educator, and now have the time the opportunity to share his wine travel experiences through this Website.

1 thought on “Napa Valley’s New Competition from Crushpad Vintners in Foster City”

  1. This is a wonderful development in America. People are feeling truly engaged with what they eat and drink.
    Industry wide winery and distributor consolidation cannot keep up with the plethora of wine entrepreneurs.

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