Can a Brewery Make Good Wine? These Beer Makers Say Yes.

One could easily mistake Alesong Brewing & Blending for a winery. The brewery, which opened in 2016 in Eugene, Ore., makes beer-wine hybrids with local grapes and sells barrel-aged beer through a membership club.

“If you take the word beer out of our business model, we look a lot more like a winery,” said Brian Coombs, a founder and production manager at Alesong, who previously worked at the nearby King Estate Winery, in the Willamette Valley wine region. Last September, Alesong introduced its first wine, a pinot gris, in an effort to broaden the brewery’s creative ambitions and customer base.

“It’s great when you have people that come in and are like, ‘Oh, no, we only drink wine,’ or they have a gluten intolerance,” said Mr. Coombs, who plans to buck winemaking conventions by, say, adding cherries or coconut to a pinot noir. “I want to look at wine from a brewer’s perspective.”

Last year, Alesong Brewing & Blending in Eugene, Ore., introduced its own wine. This spring, the brewery debuted a pinot noir made with Oregon-grown grapes. Credit…Alesong Brewing & Blending

Craft breweries have boomed over the last 15 years by breaking flavorful new ground, no rule too sacred. Now they’re applying that ethos to winemaking, swapping grains for grapes and other fruits to meet the diverse needs of customers who treat taprooms as bars.

The learning curve for making wine can be steep and slow to climb. Breweries can make and refine batches of beer every few weeks, steadily adjusting hops, grains, yeast strains and production techniques. But winemakers produce only one vintage annually: A bad harvest or improper fermentation can impact quality, leaving winemakers with less margin for error and fewer opportunities for on-the-fly refinement.

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