Quady Winery in Madera is enjoying some sweet success, thanks to the growing love for its moscato wines.
Founder Andrew Quady, who has been in the wine business for 41 years, is expanding his winery to make room for more wine. He can’t keep enough in his tanks to meet demand.
Sales of Quady’s wines and those of a sister company, Salt of the Earth, have ripened substantially.
“It’s a good problem to have,” he says.
Quady and Salt of the Earth are on track to produce an estimated 100,000 cases of wine next year, up from 50,000 cases in 2010. And with the addition of four new 25,000-gallon tanks, the long-term plan is to crank out 160,000 cases by 2021.
Much of the winery’s growth is being driven by consumers who’ve developed a thirst for sweeter-tasting wines, like moscato. The sugary grape is a favorite among winemakers who prefer its bright flavors and rich fruity aroma.
Wine analysts say moscato has been one of the fastest growing varietals in the United States. Of all California wines sold in the U.S., moscato increased 42 percent from 2011 to 2014, according to The Wine Institute.
The wine is easy drinking, relatively low in alcohol – about 5 percent versus 12.5 percent for other wines – and it has a slight effervescence. It’s an easy pick for new wine drinkers or those who like their wines on the sweeter side.
Benefiting Quady even more is the consumer trend of buying a more upscale moscato wine. While you can find many moscato wines in the $5 to $10 range, Quady’s biggest sellers, Electra and Red Electra, retail for $14 each.
“A lot of people want to move up in quality and that is where our niche is,” Quady says.
Quady uses a select blend of muscat grapes, including orange muscat, black muscat, or muscat Hamburg, and muscat canelli. The black muscat gives the Red Electra its rich garnet color.
Denis Prosperi, a Madera farmer and partner in Salt of the Earth, grows muscat grapes for Quady and says his investment in the winery has proved to be a smart move.
Salt of the Earth produces two wines, Moscato Rubino and Flor de Moscato, that have a slightly higher alcohol content at 7 percent and are made with a slightly different blend of grapes.
Sales of its wines has grown from 7,398 cases in 2011 to an estimated 37,000 cases in 2016. It has done particularly well in the Midwest and South.
Prosperi, a diversified farmer, actually removed some almond acres to plant more muscat grapes.
“I know there are a lot of guys pulling vineyards to plant almonds, but I am doing the opposite,” Prosperi says with a laugh. “This moscato market is still hot.”