Texas Custom Wine Works is coming to town, and plans to bring with them some extra business with other companies.
The soon-to-open wine-processing company is so far set to open a 13,000-square-foot facility in Brownfield’s Industrial Park and create about 12 jobs, but is in the final negotiations stages with the retail beverage company Nature de Phoenice to establish a juice line that could more than double those numbers. If the contract is approved, the building will instead be about 27,000 square feet with an additional 22 employees.
City Council gave final approval on Thursday morning to a $160,000 total incentive package to TCWW from the Brownfield Industrial Development Corporation.
TCWW President and Director of Wine-making Mike Sipowicz told the News on Thursday that after four months of negotiations with Nature de Phoenice, he anticipated hearing an answer – and likely a positive one – within the next 10 days.
Rather than produce their own wine, TCWW provides services to the Texas wine industry such as grape crushing and wine processing, incubating and storage. They are in various stages of contract with a prospective client list that includes both already-established wineries and those new in the field.
“Our goal is to be a facilitator and maximize other businesses’ abilities to produce products, whether it’s a grower looking to put in vines or a food producer,” said co-manager Dusty Timmons. “Diversification is very important.”
Their facility and equipment, however, can be used to make juice and a host of other products.
“We would produce juice to the specifications of the client in the same way that our wine company would produce wine for our wine clients,” Sipowicz said.
Other ideas for use of the facility that are still in the planning stages include a spray-drying unit in which fruit and vegetables are dried to obtain a very concentrated end product that can be used for cosmetics, natural coloring in food products and as a nutrient-booster for other types of foods. Sipowicz added that he sees potential for his company to eventually establish their own juice line.
Texas A&M food chemistry professor Steve Talcott, Ph.D., will provide expertise on the non-wine side of TCWW’s business. The rest of the management team consists of Timmons, who will oversee field operations as the company’s vice president of commercial viticulture production, and Jet Wilmeth, who will serve as the business and financial director.
TWCC’s founders selected Terry County mainly based on its prevalent grape industry. Because this year’s anticipated grape harvest of more than 3,000 tons is the largest in the state, the company’s founders were surprised about the lack of commercial wine-making in the area, and decided to take the initiative on what could easily become a booming market.
“The overall quality of the wine in Texas stands to improve through this facility,” Sipowicz said.
Guided by research that indicates recently-harvested grapes make the highest-quality wines, they wanted to keep the processing facility as close as possible to the grape acreage. Just as France, California’s Napa Valley and many other top wine-producing regions are famous for their vineyards with nearby wineries, they felt the Lone Star State could similarly benefit from tighter collaboration between both aspects of the industry.
“This facility is going to help the Texas wine industry produce better wines because – especially in the whites – the processing will happen immediately after harvest, as opposed to processing after long shipping times when the chemistry goes bad,” Wilmeth said.
(Courtesy of the Brownfield News)