When Jerry and Marsha De Angelis retired from the nonprofit organization they operated in 1998 and moved to Paso Robles, they bought a small property, planted a small vineyard and had plans to make small lots of wine for just themselves.
For Jerry, with a doctorate in chemistry, the winemaking side came easily. Today, the De Angelises are partners in a custom crush facility on the east side of town, making up to 10,000 cases of wine a year for up to 20 clients, some as far away as New York.
“This was supposed to be a hobby,” Jerry explained. “But as we got better and better at making wine, people started asking if we’d make their wine. It kind of snowballed.”
The Crush Paso Robles was started in 2006 as a partnership between the De Angelises, along with Kevin Blair and Randy Whitacre, partners developing the Winery Row Paso project across the street from the Paso Robles airport.
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While the Winery Row project has been slowed by the economy, The Crush was seen as a way to give more people access to winemaking, as well as being a haven for those winemakers who haven’t found or built their own facility.
At 5,000 square feet inside, with another 4,000 outside, the facility, built in 2007, is new and extensively insulated. They have no minimum tonnage requirement, so even clients making very small lots can find the space, equipment and expertise needed to make their own wines.
“We really like that idea,” Marsha said of servicing small lot clients, “because it’s entry level for people. How else are they going to come into the industry and know if this is really what they want to do?”
Other custom crush operations in California include the largest in the country, Crushpad of Napa and San Francisco, as well as the locally-owned Paso Robles Wine Services and Zoller Wine Styling.
The De Angelises emphasize the personal service they offer their clients, as well as their dedication to helping them make the best wine possible. “If you come in and sit with us for an hour or so, and tell us what kind of wine you like, and what flavor profile, then we’ll try and get that for you,” Jerry said.
They’ll even do research, such as in the case when he had a client that liked tempranillo.
“I researched what yeast winemakers were using in Spain and got that yeast so they were able to make tempranillo that was classically Spanish.”
The costs are based on tonnage but can vary depending on the choice of services and activities the client desires. Most important to the De Angelises is that they communicate clearly up front what is expected from both parties.
“We want people to really understand what the costs are going to be,” Marsha said.
Generally it costs between $28 and $32 a case, not including the cost of fruit and bottling. Clients are also responsible for their own wholesalers’ license.
In addition to assisting clients, the De Angelises make about 800 cases of their own wine under the De Angelis label, and partner Kevin Blair makes about 300 cases of his wine under The Crush Paso Robles label. It’s a partnership that seems to work for everyone.
“We’re really lucky, because sometimes partnerships, especially when you don’t know each other really well, can be iffy,” Marsha concluded, “but it’s just really worked out for us.”
The Crush Paso Robles
2550 Dry Creek Road, Paso Robles, 93446
Owners: Jerry and Marsha De Angelis, Kevin Blair and Randy Whitacre
Winemaker: Jerry De Angelis
Janis Switzer can be reached at 434-5394 or via e-mail at email@example.com.