The route to discovering if a wine is made by a custom crush client which is an individual or business that has qualified as a wholesaler but does not own their own physical winery or whether it was made by an actual winery can be dug up via a web search using the TTB’s public COLA site. Start by doing a web search for “colas online public”. This will lead you to a link to the TTB’s “Search for COLAs” page. Once there the only box you need to enter any data into is the Product Name box. You will fill it in with what is the brand name on any bottle of wine you may have. The brand name on a bottle of wine is generally a prominent item, so easy to spot. Once you have filled this in just click “Search” and the public cola registry will be on its way doing the next step in your detective research.
The screen that will come up next will be all the results for the brand name you entered. If this list turns out to be a dauntingly long one with many results that don’t readily resemble the wine you are looking for just go back to the search page and enter a narrow date range for starters, considering that the wine you are trying to research was probably bottled in the last year or two. Once you have found the right wine in your search list, you will be clicking on its TTB ID # which will then take you to its unique COLA detail screen. If you scroll a bit down the page you will come to the section with details about plant registry and basic permit information.
Here is your where your confirming details live to answer the question “are they a custom crush client?”. If they are a custom crush client you will see another winery name and address listed there. You can also further verify this by clicking on “printable version” and viewing the information in box number 8 where if you see a statement there with the brand name you are researching along with “(used on label)” after it this is also an indicator of a custom crush client.
Accessing the public COLA registry like this is a tool I use regularly when first beginning interactions with potential new clients. It provides me with their “portfolio” of sorts. I can see what wines they bottle, and what COLAs they already have on file. Then I have some background on them for further discussion in how I may assist them.
If you are interested in doing your own wine detective work here is a link to the TTB’s site: