Industry All Access Exclusive

Wine Ought? How and Why Some Breweries Are Stomping Grapes to Diversify

A smattering of craft breweries across the country are making natural wines—and it’s not just an afterthought. Here’s how they’re adding a widely popular beverage while treating its creation in the same way they treat their brewing: with intention.

Courtney Iseman Jul 1, 2024 - 11 min read

Wine Ought? How and Why Some Breweries Are Stomping Grapes to Diversify Primary Image

Brewer Todd Bujack and cofounder Mitch Ermatinger crushing grapes at Speciation Ales. Photo: Courtesy Speciation Ales.

Keenly aware of competition from other beverages, breweries are hustling to get more drinkers into their taprooms. Many of the ways they’re doing it have a certain “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” vibe—none more so, perhaps, than winemaking.

Hard seltzers, ciders, spirits, and RTDs, among others, represent new avenues to explore and potentially wider appeal. They can also scratch a creative itch for brewers. Yet, somehow, it’s surprising when makers of the world’s most popular type of alcoholic beverage start dabbling in the second-most popular.

To succeed, the addition shouldn’t be an afterthought. Whether it’s craft beer, wine, other drinks, or even food, customers tend to recognize and reward a commitment to quality, details, and the creative process—and that commitment is arguably necessary to get a lasting pay-off.

For a clearer idea of what’s involved in adding a winemaking program—and what it takes to succeed with it—here are some insights and lessons learned from three different small breweries.

Access All of the Brewing Industry Guide

Subscribe today to access all of the in-depth brewing stories & advice you won't find anywhere else (including this article). Subscription includes unlimited access to every brewing report, brewing course (60+), article, video (55+), magazine issue (40+), and more.