About this project
Thank you for a successful campaign! We're really excited to get started building the winery and cider house. Please find us at www.UrbanForageWinery.com to follow our development, get the latest on what we're brewing, and be the first to know about upcoming events and deals. You won't want to miss our Prohibition era speakeasy-themed mid-winter party coming in February.
If you'd like to learn more about what it takes to run a Kickstarter campaign, we're happy to share what we've learned and will be posting information about it on our website. You can also contact Rebekah at info@40WattMountain.com for more information. She produced our video for us and consulted with us on almost everything along the way. We'd recommend her to anyone planning to embark on a Kickstarter campaign. You can't start planning too early!
The Spark Behind Urban Forage
At the Urban Forage Winery & Cider House we make fruit wines (non-grape wines), hard cider and mead using mostly "crowd sourced" local ingredients that would have otherwise gone to waste. What does this mean? Our "vineyard" is everywhere. Your backyard. His apple tree. Their apiary. What sparked the idea? For the last few years, our family of four has collected enough apples from the trees of friends, neighbors and complete strangers to make applesauce that lasted us all year. The experience made us wonder. "What else is possible? What else can we do to make better use of our resources?" We are about to find out. We couldn't be more excited!
From Inspiration to Action
After 20 years of perfecting recipes and after 10 years of talking about it, last year we started to take some decisive steps towards opening the first winery in the Twin Cities. Our daughter can take credit. Like most kids, she's a sponge with a propensity to repeat what she hears. And sometimes it takes the clarity of a child's voice to make you hear what your friends have been hounding you to do forever!
"Why don't you open a winery, Dad? I think you would be happy doing that."
We began with buying and renovating a foreclosed pawn shop in the Longfellow-Seward neighborhood on East Lake Street in Minneapolis. It's a great space in a highly engaged community. There's a lot of sweat equity in that building. For six months we spent evenings and weekends sanding hardwood floors, painting walls and making other improvements. Vacant for two years before we bought it, the building is currently being used as office space as we prepare to get rolling making wine by spring.
More than Socially Desirable: Good
While people are drawn to the values behind our company that is finding its place in a sustainable food network, our products aren't just something to feel good about. They are good. We've won a few ribbons. More importantly, we're getting an encouraging response at our wine tastings.
We aim to demonstrate a viable model for making good products using locally grown crowd sourced ingredients. Should we succeed in decentralizing our supply chain that comes from 1000 backyards instead of one big field that's far away, what shall be the next question and how will that lead us closer to creating the resilient community that so many of us are seeking? We hope you share our curiosity. Please make a donation to our equipment drive.
Like any fine wine, the flavors in an Urban Forage wine will vary from year to year. This will depend not only on the weather, but on the variety of apples, or honey or flowers we are able to source in that particular year. What will be consistent is our dedication to creating a high-quality product. Our method of production will be consistently clean and precise, and our ingredients the best we can get our hands on. Spiced cider will be spiced with the same amount of ginger each year, and mead will have the same honey-to-water ratio. The slight variations in flavor that come from the different fruit and flower varieties will make each years' offering a new experience.
The Equipment Drive
We'll use the money we raise here to purchase equipment we'll need to produce 6000 gallons of wine, cider and mead a year, with the bulk of the funds paying for:
- 8 1000-liter Fermenting Tanks
- Bladder Press
- Apple Grinder
- Rapid Floor Corker
- 4-Spout Bottle Filler
- 6 Plastic Primary Fermenters
Our goal is to raise just enough to buy the equipment needed to produce wine, cider and mead on site. If we were to raise more, to the tune of $38,000, we could purchase a steamer which would allow us to steam sterilize the equipment and bottles, therefore allowing us to avoid chemical cleaners altogether and make reusing of customer-sourced bottles possible. We could also buy more sophisticated equipment for juice extraction and bottling that could improve consistency of the products.
Urban Forage is located right between the Longfellow and Seward Neighborhoods. It's a highly engaged and supportive community. We feel super lucky to be here!
We've been fortunate to have been covered by a number of news outlets in the Twin Cites already. They include:
Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal
One Girl, Two Cities - Radio Show
Longfellow Nokomis Messenger
- The Line
- Minneapolis Happening
- The Growler
- Heavy Table
FOX 9 – KMSP-TV – Stephanie March
Moving Out of the Kitchen
The plan is to have the fermentarium in full swing at our Lake Street building by 2015 and to open a taproom that we envision to be a vibrant gathering space by next fall. At first, we'll sell our product directly to the public. Then we'll make it available elsewhere. We're currently in discussions with distributors and enthusiastic retailers who want to make some shelf space for us!
Thank you for the support!
We are deeply grateful for the support we've been getting. In addition to some token gifts of appreciation for your donation to our equipment drive, we'll work hard to build a sound business that will give the neighborhood yet another thing to point to with pride.
Risks and challenges
We are on track to start production by spring 2015 and to open a tasting room by fall 2015. We have the needed City permits. We are currently pursuing state and federal licenses and expect to get them with no problems once we have our equipment inspected (It's true. We must have the equipment before we can get licensed.). So far this has been a good process. Nevertheless, we recognize that delays can happen. While we will try to anticipate glitches, if absolutely necessary we could absorb minor delays (3-12 months) as we are currently renting out half of the building as office space.
We had a good preliminary inspection by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture-- the regulatory agency that oversees wineries. As a result, we have a handle on what needs to be done to bring our production area up to code and are confident that we can take care of this.
Urban Forage will be the first winery to be located in the Minneapolis or Saint Paul since the end of Prohibition. It will be only the second winery in Minnesota that features "fruit wines" (i.e., non-grape wines). While this will be a nice advantage at first, we expect competition to grow. A diversity of good products – fruit wines of all kinds, hard cider and mead – will be the backbone of a resilient company. In addition, our business model that uses mainly locally gleaned fruit will keep the overhead down while raising social engagement.
As with any food production, we can be vulnerable to weather, the cost of fuel and other market vagaries. Our first line of defense is a diversity of products that relies on a diversity of decentralized local suppliers: residents who have surplus fruit, grocery stores that can't sell bruised fruit, and area orchards. In addition, we are prepared to supplement our operations with purchased products, should it become necessary.
Image & Marketing
While people are drawn the values behind our product that doesn't use harmful chemicals and that reduces waste by capturing locally gleaned fruit, our socially desirable model presents challenges too. The typical wine snob (we say this affectionately, of course!) who is new to fruit wines can't imagine good wine that didn't start in a 100 year old vineyard on the other side of the planet. Our job will be to challenge this assumption and to showcase wines that use crowd sourced fruit without compromising taste. We've been doing this with success by hosting wine tastings and foresee the need to continue to do this kind of outreach.
As we upscale, we'll need to hire staff. Figuring out the right level of help needed will be one of those "good problems" to have.
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