Are You Crazy, a Winery in Miami?
When wine distributor Carlos Lerena and entrepreneur Gabriel Goldberg glance around the massive building that will soon become their winery, there's not a grapevine in sight. It turns out that's the whole idea: to bring the grapes straight from the expert growers, and bottle the wine close to the wine lovers.
The benefits of the Planet Wine operation, explain Carlos and Gabriel, lie in having access to a wider variety of grapes, increased quality control and better availability. These benefits are then coupled with major savings on transportation and storage, savings Carlos and Gabriel can pass on to their customers, big and small.
Inside Planet Wine's historic, 7,000-square-foot warehouse in Miami's trendy Design District, there's plenty of space for making, bottling and storing wine. Built in 1939 as a Bus Station, the building is one of the region's best surviving examples of Miami Growth architecture. Soon, it may become Southern Florida's first urban winery. According to Carlos, urban winemaking is common in Europe, and it's fast becoming popular in larger cities in the United States, such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York. With Florida now the second largest state in consumption of wine, Miami deserves to be next.
The current plan calls for making, bottling and storing wine inside the massive facility. “This is an ideal building for wine storage,” says Carlos, adding that with its high wood ceilings and a state-of-the-art temperature control system, “it's far superior to the facilities of most wineries in the world.” Gabriel then pointed out more tantalizing prospects, like a tasting room to sample and decide before purchase, a permanent show room for Argentinean and Spanish wines and an art gallery to bring life to the Design District's industrial core. “After all,” says Gabriel with a smile, “winemaking is an art.”
What exactly are they going to doä
The business will have a wholesale side, where distributors and retailers, such as supermarkets, hotels and restaurants, can have their own wine label. Planet Wine will also cater to wine lovers who want personalized wines for a private cellar, an event, or a special occasion.
Clients can choose between large runs (75-2000 cases), of different varietals of wines from Argentina and Italy, or small runs where the customer can participate in almost the whole process of winemaking, except for the crush. They will be having tours starting soon and will be picking guests up at local hotels using a motorhome rental.
Planet Wine will launch in July 2009, when wines from all over the world will arrive in their facilities and a new page in the history of both winemaking and Florida business will begin.