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08.13.2010  
 

Missouri Winery Builds $2 Million Facility

Les Bourgeois adds new 14,000-square-foot winery and remodels existing building

 
by Linda Jones McKee
 
 
Les Bourgeois Vineyard and Winery
 
The new crush pad is located between the new and old winery buildings and has three levels: ground floor for the new winery; higher level for bringing in grapes, and top level patio where consumers will be able to watch harvest operations down below.
 
Rocheport, Mo. -- When Les Bourgeois Vineyard and Winery in Rocheport, Mo., moved into a former restaurant building in 1991, the winery was producing approximately 20,000 gallons of wine per year. As with almost all buildings converted into winery production space, the facility proved to be a challenge -- from installing floor drains to managing production flow. However, the expectation was that the 8,000-square-foot building would be adequate until the winery reached 60,000 gallons in production.

Today, Les Bourgeois is the third-largest wine producer in Missouri, and winemaker Cory Bomgaars and his team are making 120,000 gallons in that space. While wine production was growing, Les Bourgeois opened a restaurant, the Blufftop Bistro overlooking the Missouri River, in 1996, added a 180-acre farm in 1998, expanded their vineyards to 25 acres by 2000 -- and finally, in 2010, it is the winery’s turn for an expansion.

A new 14,000-square-foot wine production and warehouse building, under construction by Huebert Builders of Columbia, Mo., will soon be completed, but not quite in time for this fall’s harvest. According to Bomgaars, the winery will move into the warehouse part of the building first, and over the course of the next year the wine production and equipment, including the bottling line, will be transferred. “We plan to keep our sparkling wine production in the old facility,” Bomgaars told Wines & Vines. “We’ll move about 80% of the equipment into the new building, but will keep some white wine production and about 20,000 gallons of cooperage in the old building.”

Les Bourgeois Vineyard and Winery
 
The interior of the new winery has high ceilings, floor drains and concrete tank slabs.
 

The $2 million expansion project also includes the remodeling of the existing winery building. The current bottling room will be transformed into an additional 2,000 square feet for the tasting room. “We’re not putting in a lot of expensive features like $4,000 chandeliers. Our goal is to give our customers a great learning experience,” Bomgaars explained. “However, we do look forward to being able get a 40-person bus load through the winery without visitors having to climb over cases!” 

 Customers will be able to look from the old facility across a patio and crush pad area into the windows of the new building. In nice weather, the patio will be accessible from the tasting room, and during harvest visitors will be able to look down onto the crush pad, watch the delivery of grapes and the initial steps of wine production. The new crush pad is designed with two levels so that grapes can be transferred to a crusher-stemmer or a fermentor without having to be lifted up 10 or more feet to a hopper.

Les Bourgeois Vineyard and Winery tanks
 
A pair of colorful tanks known as Big Pig and Little Pig wait for their new home.

The winemaking facility is composed of two major spaces: the wine production area will occupy about 40% of the floor space and warehousing the remaining 60%. A laboratory, offices and a “sensory room” for conferences and private tastings will be located upstairs. With 24-foot walls and 36 feet at the peak of the roof, the winery will have plenty of vertical height for additional large-size tanks. At some point in the future, an additional warehouse may be added next to the new winemaking facility.

“It’s pretty impressive,” Bomgaars stated. “It’s good for us, and I think will be good for the Missouri wine industry, too.” The winery is located at the Rocheport exit on Interstate 70 and is about 12 miles west of the University of Missouri in Columbia. More information about Les Bourgeois Vineyard and Winery is available at missouriwine.com.

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