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The World's Biggest Toy Store

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Posted: Friday, February 1, 2008 12:00 am

It's like the world's BIGGEST toy store for winemakers. It's where budgets are made and QUICKLY BROKEN. It's the only place we can find friends we lost touch with during the year. It's the annual 2008 Unified Wine and Grape Symposium at the Sacramento Convention Center, the city's largest annual trade show.

There is NOTHING you won't find in the 22 rows of booths. They have everything for vineyards, including an entire booth for different ties used to secure vines to trellises, on up to shiny yellow tractors lined up like Ferraris in an auto show.

I was drooling over a crushing set-up that one person could work ALL ALONE to dump grape bunches into a $15,000 stem-remover ("stemmer") that drops grapes onto a $25,000 shaker-table to remove little bits of green stem clusters ("jacks", like the kiddie game). The naked grapes then drop down into a $10,000 crusher before being pumped ($7,000) into a $10,000 tank. I should have brought my $0.05 red beer cup to catch the drool!

With a nearly unlimited budget, you could practically handle crush with no hired help, but then would you be operating a winery or an automated grape processing plant making luxury machined wines?