Have you thought about putting wine slushies on your tasting room menu for summertime?
Alex Southwell, chief winemaker at Chenault Vineyards, added frozen wine-based beverages to their offerings after watching other wineries serve them at festivals and wondering if they would be similarly successful at the Richmond, Kentucky winery.
“We started making these as soon as we reopened after COVID and they were an instant hit,” Southwell said.
When people hear about wine slushies, their first thought may immediately turn to the word “Frosé,” (which comes from combining “frozen” and “Rosé”), but not all slushies are Frosés.
“Our Frosé is just one flavor we do of our wine slushies,” Southwell said. “We do a different flavor every week typically, but Frosé is for sure our most popular.”
The wine used for the base will vary per winery. Southwell said Chenault typically uses its Bovine Blush wine in its Frosé, which he described as a sweet blush made from Mars, Reliance and Concord grapes.
But depending on the slushie, the varietal may differ, he noted, explaining that slushies can be used to showcase other wines in their portfolio.
“We do highlight a lot of our different wines in straight varietal slushies,” he said. “But we’ll sometimes use our Vidal Blanc with other fresh fruit to make a completely different flavor.”
Before making the concoctions, Southwell said he spoke to other wineries about recipes to decide how he wanted to tackle it.
It didn’t take him long to decide he wanted to put his own twist on the new product.
“Everyone I spoke to used a powdered mix,” he said. “I really wanted to avoid that so it did take awhile to get the recipes the way we wanted them using fresh fruit instead of an artificial mix.”
He said it took a few tries, but they got the recipe down and began rotating flavors that he said have been “extremely popular.”
Adding them to the menu has turned on a lot of unique customers to the Chenault brand, Southwell said, noting that they market them “about the same as other wines in their tasting room.”
“Customers can get it in a wine tasting like every other wine or by the glass,” Southwell said. “For us, a big upside of them is when we set up at outside events and festivals. We typically try to attend as many of these as we can and always do very well with the “Frosé.”
“We will receive customers who will come by every week to try the new slushie flavor for that week,” he noted. “We promote the week’s flavor on our weekly calendar so a lot of customers will come just for that.”
Equipment is important, Southwell said, noting that they use a commercial slushie machine similar to what one might see at a corner store to make the beverages to ensure a smooth, well-blended product.
“If you were to use a blender you would be blending ice into the wine, I imagine, and watering it down and diluting the flavor,” he said.