The project needed to fulfill three simple criteria, it needed to be care-free, affordable and 100% authentic. Each participant has as much decision-making power as a winery owner would have, the difference being that they do not need to invest millions into the experience.
The costs of this project are far more affordable, with the parcels of vineyard being priced from 30.000€ to 60.000€, and the running costs ranging from 8€ to 11€ per bottle. The vineyard parcels are adjusted in size so that the average grape yield corresponds to a barrel of wine, 225 litres. This volume is the crucial point in the project, as it allows the experience to be simultaneously care-free, as participants do not need to worry about having to sell their wine, while also being authentic.
Each year the resulting grapes are transformed into a bespoke production of 225 litres for the respective participant. Not only is each production separate and unique, what sets this project apart is that the participant is encouraged to take each and every relevant production-related decision.
The Quinta dos Vales winemaking team educates and guides participants through the production process, providing use of the winery-equipment and specialised personnel, but each participant is encouraged to take the important decisions themselves. Which variety to choose, when to harvest, whether to age the wine in oak, which type of barrel to choose, the type of bottle, cork, and so forth. The project is intended as a luxury pastime, ideal for any wine-lover who has ever considered starting their own production.
The project was launched in 2017, but its marketing only started in late-2020. Because as Karl Stock, founder and owner of the wine estate, explains: “We were adamant that before going live with the promotion of The Winemaker Experience it had to be perfectly fine-tuned. Not only did our team need to learn the ins and outs of micro-production, we also needed to understand how to guide and educate Private Wine-Makers in a way that kept them fully informed, but without overloading them with information.” After three successful harvests accompanying a multi-national group of Private Wine-Makers, ranging from Germany to Miami, the team feel confident that the project is well and truly fine-tuned.
As soon as the marketing activities started the market-reaction was immediate, the number of private wine-makers has already almost doubled, in time to inaugurate the new barrel cellar for The Winemaker Experience. This addition is just the next step of the full-service package offered by Quinta dos Vales. Several of the participants of The Winemaker Experience also own holiday-homes overlooking the vineyards of Quinta dos Vales, so that when they are on-site and making their wine they stay in their very own homes.