You might frown at the idea of table wine, but one of Napa Valley’s most celebrated wineries is bringing back the Old World tradition of selling wine in jugs.
The main difference between then and now? This wine actually tastes good.
The Clos Du Val Community Growler Program is the brainchild of Shannon Muracchioli, director of marketing and direct-to-consumer sales, who was inspired by a Sonoma winery a few years back that was offering growlers of wine. She proposed it to the Clos Du Val team last year, and when the pandemic hit, got the green light to initiate it.
“The whole idea for me was supporting the community and supporting quite literally the people that work in our tasting room or the vineyards and can’t afford the average Napa Valley price point,” she said. “It seemed to me that this was an opportunity to thank those people with what was literally leftover wine for us. We got it launched during the pandemic and it was more important than ever as people were financially impacted.”
Containing one liter of wine that’s meant to be consumed the very week you get it, the growlers are available for pick-up from the winery, and delivery may launch soon. The cost of the glass growler and first fill is $28; after that, refills are $18. The link to order can be found on the program’s Instagram page, @cdvgrowler.
It’s been an exciting new project for winemaker Ted Henry, too, who gets to play around with blends that would normally raise a few eyebrows among winemakers and oenophiles.
He takes bits and pieces of leftover wine from blending, plus wine that didn’t quite make the final cut to create a red table wine that’s of much higher quality than the jug wines of our ancestors.
The wine is made from Clos Du Val’s premium grapes and even spends time in the barrel before initial blending trials.
Each lot of growler wine is a unique blend. While Henry will never reveal what’s in it, Muracchioli confirmed that it’s made up of mostly Bordeaux varieties. Lot 2, she teased, contained an especially creative combination.
“He’s putting varieties together that you just don’t typically put together, and that’s so much of the fun of it,” she said. “It definitely is playing the part of that everyday table wine, which is exactly what we wanted it to be.”
The program has grown by word of mouth with many locals returning for regular refills, like Napa native Danielle Schmitz, who said, “I love being able to enjoy a glass or two and seal it back up for the next evening.”
For Ryan Stiefvater, also of Napa, it’s been a welcome bright spot during the pandemic. “You get fantastic drink-any-day wine, at a price that is below what it could be bottled and sold for,” he said. “It turned into a fun weekly ritual for our family through the otherwise monotonous COVID shelter-in-place order.”