The beauty of these draft wines is that they’re made an awful lot like beer, except with grapes instead of malts and hops. Brey discovered that draft sparkling wine works best when served at the same temperature and carbon dioxide pressure as beer, making it easy to put on tap at beer bars looking to reserve a handle for non-beer-drinking patrons (or, of course, beer-drinking patrons who like to shake things up).
For Brey’s part, he’s targeting both audiences. “If you’re a new brewery you get attention. Bend is a growing wine town, but there’s very different attitudes.” There’s decent reason for those attitudes on behalf of buyers for multi-tap bars. Adds Brey, “People blow through a half-barrel keg of beer in days but for a sixth (barrel keg) of wine, a ‘fast pull’ is two weeks.”
Sand Lily’s long-term success hinges on either expediting those sales or, more simply, finding more bars and restaurants who find the lower price-point appealing considering the savings from kegging rather than bottling get passed on to both retailer and consumer.
Once the sparkling winery catches on, Brey aspires to open his own production facility and tasting room on this side of the Cascades. “I’d love to be more hands-on during secondary fermentation,” says Brey. In the beer world, a “session beer” is a beer deemed worthy of drinking multiple glasses, and therefore typically lower in alcohol. While Sand Lily’s wines are 12%, they feel a lot lighter than, say, a 12% ABV imperial IPA or stout. And compared to those 15% jammy bruisers, they are more like session wines.
“I love fancy wines,” cops Brey, noting that the perception of sparkling wine is that it’s Champagne not from the Champagne region in France. But, he notes, he makes it “more approachable” in a way that gibes with his “working class roots,” synonymous with the beer industry. It doesn’t hurt that “brewers love the concept.”
De facto tasting room: Van Henion Brewing
63067 Plateau Dr., Bend