Breaking news from State Enology Specialist Mr. Mike Sipowicz

Breaking news from State Enology Specialist Mr. Mike Sipowicz

Best wishes to Mike and the rest of the team at the new Texas Custom Wine Works (see below for website and more information). They look to be offering a custom winemaking facility with an impressive breadth and range of services. See the “Farewell Letter” below from Mike, however, while he may be leaving AgriLife Extension, Mike and the rest of the team will continue to contribute to the exciting growth of the Texas wine industry. For those of us who have had the pleasure to work with him in his previous role, we feel privileged, and are relieved to know he will still be near.

Hats off to Mike and the rest of the team.

Editor, TEN

Farewell Letter

Greetings to the Texas Wine Industry,

It is with sadness coupled with optimism that I am writing today. After nearly 6 years as Enology Specialist for Texas AgriLife Extension, I will be stepping down from my post to pursue interests in the private sector.

I returned home to Texas after 7 years of making wine in Napa with high aspirations and a desire to help the Texas Wine Industry. When I hired on with Texas Cooperative Extension as the State Enologist in 2007 there were only 97 wineries in Texas. Today there are 263 licensed wineries in the State. We have so much to be proud of as an industry, and we have most certainly come a long way. Despite the economic downturn and uncertainty, the pioneering spirit which greatly defines those in the Texas wine industry brought forth back-to-back record breaking years with regard to increase in Texas winery permits. There were 40 new wineries in 2010 and another 40 in 2011! This resulted in Texas having the largest percent increase in wineries in the U.S. for the period! I am certain that this trend will continue and in fact, accelerate.

I am committed to the Texas wine industry. My passion is in helping producers make high quality wines. I will carry forward with this work in my new endeavor: Texas Custom Wine Works

I have teamed up with a few highly skilled industry specialists. Together we hope to fill existing gaps within the Texas wine industry, providing winery and vineyard services unparalleled in the southwest United States. Our facility, being built in the Texas High Plains AVA, will exist for the sole purpose of processing grapes and wine for others. Equipment has been sized to accommodate entry-level, 1 to 2 ton producers (as custom clients) on up to larger established winery custom clients and alternating proprietors. By providing appropriately sized equipment and tanks for every level of producer, we both eliminate winery start-up barriers for the new wine producers and as well help existing producers grow their brand without the need to expand their current facility. When I was managing my Merryvale Vineyards cellar crew at Laird Family Estates (a custom crush facility in Napa), I immediately realized the value of such a facility. An aspiring new, quality-minded winemaker can sensibly enter the wine business by producing 1 or 2 barrels of wine, and spend their time building the brand, rather than worrying about how to pay for equipment. Or as is the case with larger wineries, utilize the equipment and excess storage capacity of a custom processing facility to increase their production volumes or to simple store barrels of wine or case goods, without the need to expand their own facility. Additionally, being located within a tractor’s pull of 70-80% of the fruit grown in Texas will allow wineries throughout the State the ability to have their reds de-stemmed, chilled and shipped or their whites pressed, chilled, settled and shipped within minutes of harvest!

I cannot thank the TDA, Texas AgriLife Extension, the Texas A&M Department of Nutrition and Food Science and Department of Horticulture and as well TWGGA enough for allowing me to work as Enology Specialist for the State of Texas. I would also like to give a very special thank you to Dr. Susanne Talcott, Dr. Brent Trela, Dr. Steve Talcott, Dr. Ed Hellman and Dr. Greg Cobb for their tireless work and support of myself and of the Texas wine industry. The words “Thanks you” in this case, are inadequate.

Sincerely and with utmost gratitude,

Mike Sipowicz

Texas Custom Wine Works

Last Updated on 2012 June 14,Thursday 23:31
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