Practicality meets instant gratification at Bumgarner Winery in Camino, which is serving up its ready-to-drink Silver Fork line directly from the tap and bottling it on the spot for visitors to the tasting room.
“We have very small lots of wine that are too small for us to bottle up, so we put them in kegs, much like you would do beer and soda. But they’re all fitted with fittings that won’t affect the wine whatsoever,” explains Jennifer Bumgarner, who owns the winery with her husband, Brian. “We simply pour it right off the tap.” On a recent afternoon, they were drawing from kegs of Barbera, Mourvèdre and hard apple cider.
The motivation to serve directly from kegs was twofold: It eliminates waste by reducing packaging and lowers costs for both the winery and consumers.
“We see a lot of waste as far as the glass bottles,” says Bumgarner. “And we wanted to have a product that would be available for local folks where they wouldn’t be paying for packaging every time.” Instead, customers can purchase a reusable, generically labeled bottle for $5; when they return it, they receive a $5 credit on their next purchase from the winery.
Bumgarner says the ad hoc bottling process works especially well for local wine enthusiasts because these wines are meant to be enjoyed right away, not socked away for a special occasion.
“The idea behind the Silver Fork wines is that they are wines that are ready for the table now, for people who want to drink a nice-quality good wine today,” she explains. “It doesn’t have a cork in it; it’s not going to be lying down and aged in the cellar.”