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Rack & Riddle Custom Wine Services Blog

Rack & Riddle Custom Wine Services

Visit Rack & Riddle at Unified Wine Symposium

With sparkling wine growing ever more popular and sales far outpacing still wine, now is the ideal time to carve your niche in this lucrative market.

Stop by and taste samples of Rack & Riddle’s award-winning sparkling wine at booth #1839 at the Unified tradeshow, and meet with our knowledgeable industry experts.

Click here to add Rack & Riddle to your show planner scheduling tool and send a quick email to make an appointment!

Discover how Rack & Riddle’s collaborative, customer-centered approach can help you achieve your winemaking goals in 2016.

Rack & Riddle Offers Customizable Programs:

Sparkling Private Label Program
Base to Bottle or Grape to Bottle Sparkling Programs
Grape to Bottle Still Wine Programs & Bottling Contracts

Rack & Riddle Custom Wine Services
UWGS Booth: 1839

With a recent expansion to two new facilities in Sonoma County, Rack & Riddle is proudly committed to providing pristine facilities where winemakers craft both still and sparkling wines. Rack & Riddle offers complete grape-to-bottle, base-to-bottle, and shiner programs for private labels, and houses 2 million gallons of stainless steel storage and fermentation vessels. An exceptional winemaking team produces over 1 million cases of wine annually. Please visit for more information.

Elizabeth Nixon
January 4, 2016 | Elizabeth Nixon

Meeting the Need for Sparkling and Still Winemaking Services in the Custom Crush Arena

Check out our feature story published on Vault29, reprinted with permission:

Wine industry veterans Rebecca Faust and Bruce Lundquist often heard winemakers lament: Making sparkling wine is too cost prohibitive; the learning curve too steep. Yet sparkling wine sales have been outpacing still wine for nearly a decade—everybody wanted in. A light bulb turned on. This was the perfect, untapped niche: Rack & Riddle would be an operation where wineries, winemakers and brands could access still and sparkling custom crush services—from base wine or grapes, or any winemaking process in between—as well as private label wines.

Rack & Riddle Custom Wine Services in Sonoma County specializes in sparkling winemaking, private label wines and custom crush.

Rack & Riddle has grown from eight employees at its founding in 2007 to over 80 today, expanded in 2014 to two facilities based in Sonoma County, and is one of the largest operations in the nation specializing in the traditional French sparkling winemaking style of méthode Champenoise.

“Rack & Riddle is a playground for winemakers—they have access to sparkling equipment that wouldn’t normally be in a still winery. So they don’t have to purchase it, or worry about the overhead inherent in a production facility. We love to collaborate one-on-one with our clients. They can have as much input and presence they like because we have an open door policy.”

— Rack & Riddle’s’ Executive Director of Winemaking Penny Gadd-Coster

Custom winemaking

Projects at Rack & Riddle are varied and truly custom. Clients elect to bring in grapes or base wine, or choose from winemaking processes a la carte, such as bottling finished wines, or aging wines in barrel. The private label wine program is ideal for those seeking a branded label with a quick turn-around time. Orders average just three months from placing an order, to receiving government label approval to being labeled and packed in cases ready to ship. Private label customers range from wineries and restaurants to retail stores, gift basket companies and more.

“A lot of our customers start their wine program with a private label wine. In the meantime, they can prepare to bring in their own grapes or base wine down the road. This is a really useful strategy to get their wine program established in the marketplace,” said Gadd-Coster.

One such client is Wine by Design, an official licensee of Major League Baseball, who chose Rack & Riddle as the “ideal partner to produce limited-release sparkling wine” first in 2013 for the Boston Red Sox sparkling, and now for the Kansas City Royals™ sparkling wine. “How do you find those people who are best at what they do?” said Wine by Design Founder and CEO Diane Karle. They turned to a grape grower for advice. “Immediately, no question, they said, ‘Rack & Riddle…’ We started the conversation, explained what we wanted to do, and their group was excited to get on board. We were very lucky.”


Award-winning private label wines from Rack & Riddle stock

Rack & Riddle Winery also has its own brand of four award-winning sparkling wines, which have been awarded 20 Gold medals and Best of Class awards in just the past few years. The wines can be purchased in select stores across California and numerous states nationwide, and in 27 states online at


Breathless Wines, Rack & Riddle’s sister winery, will open a tasting room adjacent to Rack & Riddle’s sparkling wine facility at 499 Moore Lane in Healdsburg, Calif., in early 2016. Founded by sisters Rebecca Faust (Rack & Riddle’s co-founder), Sharon Cohn and Cynthia Faust, Breathless’ tasting room will feature three sparkling wine varietals in an innovative space—the first of its kind in Healdsburg constructed out of shipping containers. Guests enjoy a world class tasting experience complete with sabering lessons, in a space devoted to supporting more than a dozen non-profit partners.

With a multitude of programs running at once, Rack & Riddle emphasizes customer satisfaction is key.

“Working with Rack & Riddle has been an absolute pleasure,” said client Amy Kemp, co-proprietor of Loma Prieta Winery. “They are extremely knowledgeable and provide outstanding customer service, which affords us the opportunity to provide a superior product at a very reasonable price point.”

Outsourcing winemaking to Rack & Riddle means “the difference between being able to offer sparkling wine and simply not being able to offer sparkling wine,” Kemp recently told Wines & Vines. Utilizing Rack & Riddle’s custom crush facility also means Kemp won’t be delayed by a “sparkling wine production learning curve.”

As a custom crush facility that produces over 1.2 million cases annually and a team with over 100 years’ combined expertise, Rack & Riddle’s No. 1 goal is for clients large and small to know they are in the best of hands.



Rack & Riddle Custom Wine Services

Another Award-Winning Sparkling Wine for Rack & Riddle!

Our winemakers have been racking them up, award-winning sparkling wines, that is!

Rack & Riddle's Winemaking Team produces award-winning sparkling winesWe are pleased to announce another award-winning sparkling wine for Rack & Riddle. Our Rack & Riddle’s Blanc de Blancs sparkling wine has just received 92 points and “Best Buy” designation from (the Beverage Testing Institute).

These latest awards are in good company—the Rack & Riddle brand of four sparkling wines have won more than 20 Gold medal and Best of Class awards. With the price point at just $20 a bottle, as VinVillage’s host Rob Barnett said of the Blanc de Blancs, this wine is “…ridiculously affordable! Don't miss out... get an award-winning, 92-Point bubbly for under $20 a bottle. That's crazy-cheap.” Shop here.

The Blanc de Blancs has also received numerous other prestigious awards, including Double Gold and Gold Medals from San Francisco International Wine Competition, and Best of Class and Gold Medals from Sunset Magazine International Wine Competition.

Check out our Executive Director of Winemaking Penny Gadd-Coster’s holiday wine pairing for the Blanc de Blancs:

Wine: Rack & Riddle Blanc de Blancs
Dish: Oysters Rockefeller
Why it Pairs Well: Who can resist this classic pairing, dressed up Rockefeller style?! The saltiness and texture of oysters pairs beautifully with sparkling wine that’s not too sweet—perfect with our dry  Blanc de Blancs.
Price Point of Wine: $20
Varietal Composition: 53% Chardonnay, 39% Sauvignon Blanc, 8 % French Colombard
Appellation: North Coast
Time on tirage: 18-22 months aging*
Alcohol: 12.5%
pH: 3.03
Dosage: 1.15%

Check out more holiday wine and food pairing suggestions in Penny’s blog post, sparkling wines paired with holiday favorites!


Rack & Riddle Custom Wine Services

Rack & Riddle Round-Up: San Diego Bay Wine & Food Fest

Rack & Riddle was honored recently to be VinVillage Radio’s featured winery at the San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival, where close to 6,000 attendees tasted wines from nearly 200 wineries!

VinVillage Radio Host Rob Barnett poured Rack & Riddle Blanc de Blancs and Brut, the Kansas City Royals™ World Series™ Championship Brut produced by Rack & Riddle in partnership with Wine by Design, as well as Breathless Rosé. He estimates they served between 800 and 900 pours, with the line often five people deep, eagerly awaiting a taste of bubbly!

“It was once again a fantastic day at the San Diego Bay Festival,” said Rob Barnett. “Our location was breathtaking with the scenic San Diego Bay and famous Coronado Bridge just behind us. And, what really topped it all off was pouring the four great Rack & Riddle produced sparkling wines, which all of the festival attendees absolutely loved. How much better can life get?"

Rob Barnett interviewed R&R winemaker Penny Gadd-Coster before the festival on November 17th along with Wine by Design’s Diane Karle to discuss the World Series Championship wine. Catch the segments below:

Penny Gadd-Coster's segment




































Diane Karle's segment

Check out some pictures from the day:










Rob Barnett pouring bubbly at the San Diego Wine & Food Festival




























Learn more about the San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival.

Thank you, Rob, for this wonderful opportunity and partnership! Cheers!

Rack & Riddle Custom Wine Services

Rack & Riddle Announces Release of Kansas City Royals™ Championship Brut™ Sparkling Wine



MEDIA CONTACT:                                                              

Elizabeth Nixon – Rack & Riddle                                                                

707-433-8400 ext. 220


Rack & Riddle Announces Release of Kansas City Royals™ Championship Brut™ Sparkling Wine


HEALDSBURG, Calif., Nov. 30, 2015 – Rack & Riddle Custom Wine Services, one of the largest custom wine operations in the nation, announced the release of the Kansas City Royals World Series Championship Brut sparkling wine. Product is available for sale online and at select retail outlets. For more information visit, & Riddle announces release of Kansas City Royals wine

Wine by Design, an official licensee of Major League Baseball, identified Rack and Riddle as the ideal partner to produce this limited-release commemorating the champions of the 111th Fall Classic. The Royals Championship Brut was crafted in the méthode Champenoise process, and showcases premium grapes from California’s renowned North Coast region.

“This is a celebratory bubbly created especially for the team and fans—soft in the mouth with bright notes of sweet red raspberry, strawberry and green apple, and hints of citrus flower on the nose,” said Rack & Riddle Executive Director of Winemaking, Penny Gadd-Coster. “This Brut pairs well with any food, and its long shelf life means the 2015 Royals can be celebrated for months or years to come—it’s a great commemorative bottle.”

Rack & Riddle produced its first MLB wine in 2013, a championship brut for the Boston Red Sox.

“We are excited to reprise this role,” said Rack & Riddle General Manager Mark Garaventa. “It’s incredible to see our bubbly popped and poured while fans celebrate this victory.”


With its expansion in 2014 to two new locations in Sonoma County, Rack & Riddle is proudly committed to providing pristine facilities where winemakers craft both still and sparkling wines. Rack & Riddle offers complete grape-to-bottle, base-to-bottle, and private label wine programs, and houses nearly 2 million gallons of stainless steel storage and fermentation vessels. An exceptional winemaking team produces 1.2 million cases of wine annually. For more information, visit

Wine by Design (WBD) is a marketing and management agency, and the leader in delivering wine-based strategic services and premium wine solutions. WBD provides tailored brand experiences, limited wine releases, events and consulting. Founded by Diane Karle, WBD has offices in New York and Napa Valley. WBD has cultivated a network of wine experts, suppliers and grape growers, which results in targeted business solutions. Visit to learn more.

Time Posted: Nov 30, 2015 at 2:00 PM
Rack & Riddle Custom Wine Services

Rack & Riddle at the San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival!

We're excited to be VinVillage’s featured winery at the upcoming San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival where 6,000 attendees will be tasting wines from over 200 wineries! VinVillage will pour Rack & Riddle Blanc de Blancs and Brut, the Kansas City Royals World Series Championship Brut produced by Rack & Riddle in partnership with Wine by Design, and will also pour Breathless Rosé.

VinVillage Host Rob Barnett will interview R&R winemaker Penny Gadd-Coster tomorrow November 17th at 2pm (PT), and Wine by Design’s Diane Karle at 2:15 to discuss the World Series Championship wine. Catch it on and click “Studio A.”

Learn more about the San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival:

Rack & Riddle Custom Wine Services

Royals™ Take The Crown! Time to Pop the Bubbly!

We are so excited to announce the Royals Championship Brut is available on our site for pre-order! It was an honor to have worked with Wine By Design to produce the sparkling to commemorate their victory! Check it out!

Penelope Gadd-Coster
October 28, 2015 | Penelope Gadd-Coster

Harvest 2015 Round-Up

With the sparkling winegrape harvest finished over a month ago, and the still varietals also winding down, it’s time to reflect on harvest 2015. This grape growing season and harvest was unlike any I’ve seen in my 30 years as a winemaker. It started with the unusual weather patterns. First, an unprecedented drought of four years impacted the vines, and then in the spring, a heat spell followed by a cool spell caused the berries to first bloom, then re-bloom. Typically bloom takes a couple of weeks, but this year it lasted a month, a phenomenon I’ve never seen before. One of those blooms didn’t germinate and produce fruit—that may be why it second bloomed, in a last-ditch effort to reproduce, if you will.

Fortunately, the Carneros appellation in Sonoma where we source most of our grapes for the Rack & Riddle brand seemed to weather the changes fairly well. And with few hills, the vines didn’t suffer the same drought issues of other areas; even though the soil in the Carneros region drains well, what rain we did receive was allowed to soak in and not just become runoff as you see with hillside-planted vines. We were still down 20 percent in yields, but with the average for other areas of Sonoma County being 30-40 percent down, we lucked out.

Many other areas of the county were not so fortunate—my own vineyard at my home in Cloverdale, in the Alexander Valley appellation, yielded zero grapes this harvest. Ninety percent of the clusters were green berries that never ripened. A recent article from Wine Spectator shows a perfect example of this phenomenon, known as Millerandage, or "hens and chicks," a fruit-set defect where underdeveloped and fully developed berries appear in the same cluster. The article shows an image of a cluster where about 50 percent is comprised of hard, green berries. In my case, when only a dozen berries per cluster are ripe, harvest is impossible. This is no doubt the disappointing side to farming, when you put so much time, money and effort into your vineyards, but reap nothing.

While the yields were low, overall the quality was good. But if you were one of those who just didn’t have the yields necessary to harvest, this would be the perfect year to dive into the bulk market. As a custom crush facility, we are seeing many people who wanted to bring in a varietal for a special project unable to because of low yields—many of those people are planning some fun blends instead, or taking advantage of the limited-release bubblies we have available in our private label wine program. Custom dosage, differing aging times en tirage and custom packaging/labeling means you can present a new sparkling label unique to your brand in very little time. It’s typically just three months turn-around on average from start to finish—from obtaining label approval and printing, to labeling and packing in cases, ready to ship. This can be a rewarding project to pursue on down years such as this one.

Looking ahead, my hope is that next year picks up. These years tend to flip flop, so the chances are next year is going to be an average crop. Here’s hoping. Meanwhile, good luck to all as you craft this season’s blends, perhaps challenging, but that’s why we do this! I am looking forward to 2016, optimistically better weather, happier grapes, and revitalized winemakers as we may actually have a moment to reflect for a change. We made it through another harvest—cheers!

Check out our photo gallery of Harvest 2015!

Rack & Riddle Custom Wine Services

Fall Food and Sparkling Wine Pairing Guide

Our awesome winemaker Penny Gadd-Coster paired our sparkling wines with her favorite fall and winter entrees, perfect for helping take the guess-work out of what wine to serve at holiday meals! Check out Penny’s food and wine pairing guide below:

Wine: Rack & Riddle Brut
Dish: Traditional oven-baked Ham dish
Why it pairs well: The saltiness of the ham pairs wonderfully with the slight sweetness of this dry Brut with notes of pink grapefruit, green apple, citrus flower and a hint of yeast.
Price Point of Wine: $20

Wine: Rack & Riddle Blanc de Noirs
Dish: Roasted Turkey
Why it pairs well: The earthiness, with berry notes from the pinot grape, is a perfect match.
Price Point of Wine: $22

Wine: Rack & Riddle Rosé
Dish: Sweet Potato Casserole
Why it pairs well: The fruit and texture of the Rosé pairs nicely with the savory sweet potato.
Price Point of Wine: $22

Check out all our sparkling wines available to order and ship online, or order online and select “Pick Up at Rack & Riddle” if you are in Sonoma County and want to skip the shipping cost and wait time!


Holiday shipping info:
The last day to order for Ground delivery before Thanksgiving Day is: Friday, November 13 (Choose 3-day or 2-day shipping, or "pick up at Rack & Riddle" to get it faster!)

The last day to order for Ground delivery before Christmas Day or New Year's Eve is: Monday, December 7

Please note: between December 11-24 UPS does not guarantee delivery time on Ground packages. Please choose 3-day or 2-day shipping, or contact us 707-433-8400 for Overnight shipping.


Time Posted: Oct 8, 2015 at 8:35 AM
Elizabeth Nixon
September 25, 2015 | Elizabeth Nixon

How to Saber a Bottle of Sparkling Wine

At Rack & Riddle during special events - or even for everyday occasions - the preferred method of popping open sparkling wine is sabering. This age-old technique first came about in the Napoleonic era – during wartime celebrations, Napoleon’s cavalry would open bottles of champagne to celebrate, using the sabers they carried.

Today, it’s used as a way to start a party’s festivities by greeting your guests in a memorable, celebratory fashion they won’t soon forget. When celebrating with the best sparkling wines available, why not pop them open with panache?!

Winemaker Penny Gadd-Coster sabers a bottle of sparkling wine.What exactly does sabering entail? Sabrage is the art of opening a sparkling wine or champagne bottle with a saber (sword), by gliding the dull side of the saber along the bottle to pop off the top of the neck. The force of the blade hitting the neck breaks the glass at the neck’s collar, separating the collar/cork from the rest of the bottle. The neck is left open and ready for serving up your bubbly!

Pictured: Penny Gadd-Coster, Rack & Riddle's Executive Director of Winemaking, sabering.

Sabrage is a dangerous activity not to be done without proper training, but after you’ve undergone one-on-one training with a pro, here are some helpful tips to keep in mind:

1). Chill your bottle overnight in the fridge – doing so will get the bottle down to at least 45 degrees, so it won’t overflow once sabered.

2). Always saber sparkling wine outside. Hold the bottle at a 45 degree angle, away from yourself and others, with at least a 50-foot clearance in front of the bottle.

3). Practice gliding your saber blade along the bottle’s surface up to the neck.

4). Remove the foil, neck label and wirehood.

5). Aim for the bottle seam at the neck (the weakest point) and swiftly glide the blade along the bottle to pop off the top, and be sure to follow through!

6). Enjoy your sabered bottle of bubbly!

Warning: Wear glasses and gloves for safety. You acknowledge that Sabrage is a hazardous recreation activity with risk of damage or personal injury. By following these instructions you accept full responsibility for your own safety, the safety of others and expressly assume all risks of harm, whether foreseen or unforeseen.