Wine & Spirits - August 2019 - 18

RACK & RIDDLE
PROVIDES THE
TECHNOLOGY AND
EQUIPMENT NECESSARY FOR CONTEMPORARY SPARKLING
WINE PRODUCTION,
INCLUDING THE TIRAGE
ROBOT ABOVE.

18

L

ate last year, Bruce Lundquist, founder of
Rack & Riddle, made some calculations
and determined that his company was
making more than half a million cases of
sparkling wine a year. "I realized," he told
me, "that we had become the third-largest sparkling-wine producer in the United
States." What makes this remarkable is he
doesn't have a brand to his name.
Rack & Riddle is a custom crush facility based in Healdsburg, California, devoted to sparkling wine. Those production numbers are spread across more than 200 clients, some
making tens of thousands of cases, most making far less-for
special clients, for their tasting rooms, wine clubs, special
events or their own enjoyment. Clearly, Rack & Riddle had
tapped into a need.
The last decade has seen a proliferation of sparkling
wines being made all over the country. For this issue alone,
we tasted 130 sparkling wines from the US in our West Coast
office, recommending close to half of them.
This insurgency follows the model of Roederer Estate and
Iron Horse, two seminal California producers that started
with a grower perspective on sparkling wine. Today, just
as grower-producers have transformed Champagne, small
grower-producers are changing America's sparkling-wine
landscape with new bottlings, new energy and, perhaps most
compellingly, a new focus on site expression.
Meanwhile, the emergence of custom crush facilities like
Rack & Riddle and Cruse Wine Co. (also in California) and

WINE & SPIRITS

AUGUST 2019

the Radiant Sparkling Wine Company (in Oregon) have
brought the means of production to practically anyone
who wants it. Once-formidable barriers to entry, like pricey
equipment, the storage and time demands of long elevage,
and above all, access to know-how, have all become less prohibitive. And in a market shifting to direct-to-consumer cellar-door sales, demand is strong. "We ask our clients for a
minimum commitment of 132 cases, or three pallets," says
Lundquist. "Almost everyone comes back saying, 'I wish we'd
ordered twice that much.'"

I

f you live in California and have any desire to make
sparkling wine, chances are you'll take a meeting at
Rack & Riddle. Founded in Hopland in 2007 (most
of its facilities are now in Healdsburg), Rack & Riddle's services cover nearly every aspect of sparkling-wine
production.
Inside Rack & Riddle's facilities are millions of dollars'
worth of specialized sparkling-wine equipment. In addition to the usual winery trappings, like barrels, tanks, lines,
presses, cold rooms and forklifts, they have storage bins by
the hundreds, a specialized bottling line, a disgorging line
and neck freezers to dislodge the yeast from the second fermentation; there are massive gyro-palettes for riddling hundreds of bottles at a time, bottle washers, toppers, corkers,
wire hooding units, heavy-duty labeling contraptions (sparkling wine labels are glued on, to keep them from falling off
in an ice bucket) and a special machine to properly crimp the
pleated capsules found on sparkling-wine bottles.



Wine & Spirits - August 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Wine & Spirits - August 2019

Contents
Wine & Spirits - August 2019 - Cover1
Wine & Spirits - August 2019 - Cover2
Wine & Spirits - August 2019 - 1
Wine & Spirits - August 2019 - 2
Wine & Spirits - August 2019 - 3
Wine & Spirits - August 2019 - 4
Wine & Spirits - August 2019 - Contents
Wine & Spirits - August 2019 - 6
Wine & Spirits - August 2019 - 7
Wine & Spirits - August 2019 - 8
Wine & Spirits - August 2019 - 9
Wine & Spirits - August 2019 - 10
Wine & Spirits - August 2019 - 11
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Wine & Spirits - August 2019 - 19
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Wine & Spirits - August 2019 - Cover3
Wine & Spirits - August 2019 - Cover4
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