Long-time Troon winemaker Herb Quady and Troon associate Brian Gruber are setting off in a new direction, but not leaving their wine-making roots behind.
The duo has launched Barrel 42, a custom winemaking venture, at the SOS complex on Stewart Avenue in south Medford, a spot that the property owner says he hopes one day will be a tourist-oriented wine and food destination.
In a custom-crush operation such as Barrel 42, growers provide the grapes and the business produces and bottles the wine.
"This is big step forward, doing our own production and custom production as well," Quady said. "Brian and I have complementary levels of expertise. My role will be to direct pure winemaking with input on styles and process. Brian brings a logistics background, and speciality in finance and client relationships, as well as winemaking."
Quady developed his own Quady North label during his tenure with Troon and operates Applegate Vineyard Management as well. He will continue the Quady North wines, producing them on the Barrel 42 site, which was for decades primarily a pear-packing operation.
"This allows us to integrate two sides of the business with management and wine production," Quady said. "SOS is a great place for making wine because of the storage and logistics options."
Quady is leaving the Applegate Valley winery after a 10-year stint to focus on small lot, custom winemaking. He said he will continue to consult with Troon on a limited basis.
Barrel 42's annual capacity is 7,000 cases of wine and Quady North, which produced 3,300 cases last year, will be its primary tenant.
"We wanted to differentiate the organization name to show this is not simply a sideline for Quady North," Quady said. "We are paying serious attention to clients and specialize in custom crush. We have people with very strong interest and will probably have contracts within the next month or so."
Barrel 42 is the second Medford custom-crush venture. Pallet Wine Co., set up shop five years ago one mile north near downtown Medford.
"We'll be competitors, but our goal is not to do as much production as Pallet," Quady said. "We want to keep our production smaller, serve fewer clients (and) specialize on small lots."
The 2,400 square-foot building next to the railroad tracks and a packing house (now leased to Naumes Inc.) has been used as a workshop since Mike DeSimone acquired the former Southern Oregon Sales campus in 2009.
DeSimone said he reached an agreement with the Barrel 42 owners late last year and is still working on lease details.
DeSimone said he hopes one day to turn the packing site into a full-blown winery and Pike Place Market-style tourist attraction to go with the Old 99 Road Wine Shop & Specialty Foods operation fronting Stewart Avenue.
Quady said he expects to move into his new quarters late this month and to have permits in place by June in preparation for the 2014 harvest.
"We have very good yields in 2013, full ripening levels and the rain didn't affect the vintage," Quady said. "We don't yet know the effects of the December cold snap. The biggest impact (on the 2014 vintage) will be smaller yields."