Home Wine Industry Spotlights Raising the Bar: Elevating Contract Wine with Creativity and Excellence

Raising the Bar: Elevating Contract Wine with Creativity and Excellence

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In the heart of Sonoma County, there’s a hardworking team of Wine Hooligans in an 80,000-square-foot industrial winery making and bottling award-winning wines while offering a full suite of services for a growing group of outside wineries.

Director of Winemaking Adam LaZarre, Production Winemaker Michael Sylvester and Winemaker Doug Roosevelt each come from luxury winemaking backgrounds and create wines for their five national brands. The best known is Portlandia, which made Shanken’s Impact list in 2023 as the fastest-growing brand in Oregon wines under 100,000 cases. The line of wines includes a Pinot Noir and a Cabernet Sauvignon that each grew by triple digits. Other brands include Broadside’s three Paso Robles’ Cabernet Sauvignons, Shortbread’s Buttery Chardonnay and Cycles Gladiator. These wines have been the company’s main focus, especially when consumer demand rose during the pandemic, and remain vital to its business today.

Wine Hooligans Bottling Services

Contract Bottling Services

But Wine Hooligans has also built a considerable business in contract services and private label brands, producing half a million cases a year overall. Clients from as far south as Santa Barbara County take advantage of their convenient location in Santa Rosa. Central Coast wineries that use warehouse services in Napa save time and money by taking a quick detour off Rt. 101 to drop off their juice and let Wine Hooligans bottle and ship the final product to their Napa warehouses.

“We let many of our clients focus on doing nothing other than being the salesperson for their wines,” says Patrick Morgan, VP of Operations at Wine Hooligans. “We have one client who created a private label with a winemaker for a national restaurant chain. He sends us the wine, and we put together the blend for him. We help him with labels, buy the glass, make the wine to his winemaker’s specifications, filter it, bottle it and even set him up with a local warehouse.

The Hooligan’s setup is ideal for wineries focusing on efficiencies under current market conditions. These customers are often looking to save themselves some work and money. Although the minimum order quantity is about ten pallets or 560 cases, their sweet spot is working for small to medium-sized wineries or those doing multiple small runs each year. The clientele ranges from a 15,000-case customer with half a dozen bottlings to a 70,000-case client with 15 different projects a year to a large customer with 200,000 cases in several formats from 375 ml to 1.5 liters.

“We’re used to making changeovers and doing two or three different 1,200 case runs in a day,” Morgan explains. “On a perfect day, we do 4,200 cases, and we can easily flex up to 5,000.”

Broadside bottles and boxes on line

Full Suite of Services

Recently Miller Family Wines from Santa Maria was tight on overall capacity so they turned to the Hooligans to help with a new project ― a private label for a big retailer. LaZarre and his winemaking team followed the winemaker’s protocol to blend 30,000 gallons of wine from multiple sources, make necessary add’s and filter the wine. Wine Hooligans bottled the resulting 16,000 cases of Sauvignon Blanc, using its purchasing power to obtain great rates on glass, screw caps and labels. Their two-person graphic design team added the proper California CRV language to their back labels and still hit the customer’s tight deadline.

“The client was thrilled, and we helped save them 10-15% on the overall cost of this wine,” says Morgan. “Although this isn’t indicative of every customer, it’s an example of the kind of work our team can do and the efficiencies we can provide.”

“They’ve come back to us and want us to do the project again this spring,” adds Thomas Carter, the Director of Business Development, who is the point of contact for new clients.

Wine Hooligans also imports and exports from 17 countries. With full access to the bulk wine market and grape contracts from SLO to Walla Walla, Washington, they’ll often help customers source the best wine for their project. For example, they may taste 20 different options available for an appellated Chardonnay and send a few samples for the customer to pick the one that comes closest to their vision. Then, they’ll work together to make the wine and bottle it.

“It’s not just about formulas, getting the SO2 right and putting the wine in bottles,” says LaZarre, the head of this creative and artistic winemaking team. “The team really shines when someone comes in with an idea that taps our creative abilities. We give them all kinds of options to choose from, and when they find the one they’re looking for, we produce it for them in our organic facility. What excites us most is being able to create or reproduce almost anything. We don’t put anything in the bottle that isn’t something we would drink ourselves. We’re very proud of high scores and sales that go through the roof, so we’re very conscientious ― and competitive.”

Whether they’re looking for bottling and price efficiency or creative winemaking, wineries of almost any size will find the dedicated team at Wine Hooligans ready to collaborate on fulfilling their wine vision.

Email or call Thomas Carter 707-234-4697 for more information about Wine Hooligans Custom Services.

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