09.16.2008  
 

Anderson Valley Adds Wineries

Remote Mendocino County AVA sees construction, expansion and new owners

 
by Paul Franson
 
Mendocino & Anderson Valley Wine
 
Foursight's new winery, to be completed next year, is being built with lumber reclaimed from the owners' family sawmill.
 
Anderson Valley, Calif. -- Cool Anderson Valley is hot: at least three wineries are being built in the isolated, narrow valley, all with tasting rooms, and another is rumored, while an existing winery is planning a tasting room in tiny Boonville.

The three new wineries include a facility for Goldeneye; a winery and cave for Jim Ball Vineyard, and a winery for Foursight Wines. Anderson Valley wine pioneer Navarro Vineyards in Philo is rumored to be planning another vineyard and winery southeast of Boonville.

Phillips Hill Estates is putting a tasting room in a former real estate office in Boonville, though tasting room plans for Londer Vineyards recently fell through and Larry Londer, who makes wines in Sebastopol, is seeking another site.

REGION: CALIFORNIA

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Anderson Valley AVA's approximate location inside of Mendocino County
On top of that, Don and Rhonda Carano of Ferrari-Carano Winery, have bought renowned Lazy Creek Vineyards in Philo, and Cakebread Cellars of Napa Valley is harvesting Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from vineyards planted in 2001 in a former valley apple orchard.

Goldeneye, a subsidiary of Napa Valley's Duckhorn Wine Company, recently broke ground for a new Pinot Noir production facility in Philo. Designed by local architect Ron Verdier with Goldeneye vice president and winemaker Zach Rasmuson, the winery will consolidate Goldeneye's small-lot winemaking operations.

Duckhorn president Alex Ryan says the winery was formerly making wine at three locations within Anderson Valley. The new facility will allow it to produce about 12,000 cases on one site.

The winery will be built next to Goldeneye's existing winemaking facility, which is currently housed in a small, historic barn a few miles from the Goldeneye tasting room and original vineyard. The new winery takes its aesthetic inspiration from the barn, as well as Anderson Valley's historic agricultural architecture, and features an open-air silo and breezeway connecting a fermentation building and a barrel storage building. The existing winery has been incorporated in the overall design as a showcase barrel storage facility. The new winery has room for up to 100 movable 3-ton open-top fermenters.

The winery, which is being built by Nordby Construction, features numerous sustainable features. Construction materials include locally harvested and milled redwood for the winery exterior, which has been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, and concrete flooring produced using 20% recycled fly ash. When complete, the winery will include a 32-kilowatt solar photovoltaic array capable of producing the majority of its energy needs, an energy-conserving cool roof, structurally insulated thermal-controlled rooms, rainwater collection and storage, and high-efficiency lighting. In addition, Nordby will be recycling 75% of the project's waste building materials throughout construction. The new winery is scheduled for use by harvest of 2009.

Goldeneye was founded in 1996 by Duckhorn Wine Company in the old Obester Wine Company. It now farms 150 acres of Pinot Noir at four different sites in Anderson Valley. "All we do there is Pinot Noir," Ryan says, "and this gives us a large palate to choose from."

Long-time growers Bill and Nancy Charles--together with their daughter Kristy Charles and her fiancé, winemaker Joe Webb--are building a 1,600-square-foot tasting room and winery for their Foursight Wines just southeast of downtown Boonville, on property owned by four generations of the family since 1950. They farm 15 acres of winegrapes, mostly Pinot Noir with a small amount of Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon.

Kristy Charles told Wines & Vines that the Foursight tasting room and winery should be completed by May 2009. Next summer, she plans to hold her wedding reception at the site.

The winery is being built from lumber reclaimed from the family's Charles Lumber Company site. The roof has also been engineered to support the installation of solar panels.

The winery makes small quantities of Pinot Noir from their own vineyards, and Sauvignon Blanc. Its first wines were released in May. This year, Foursight used purchased fruit for the Sauvignon Blanc as most of those grapes have been sold to Navarro. This year, some of the grapes stayed at Foursight.

A third winery is being built by Jim Ball Vineyard, which already has a vineyard in Philo and is planting more. It hopes to complete its winery and cave within a few weeks for use this harvest.

Kristy Charles, who also serves as the executive director of the Anderson Valley Winegrowers Association, says she sees assistant winemakers and winemakers at custom micro crush facilities like Crushpad establishing brands based on Anderson Valley fruit. She expects some of these eventually to have physical presences in the bucolic valley.

Don and Rhonda Carano bought the Lazy Creek Vineyard from landscape architects Josh and Mary Beth Chandler, who are moving to Healdsburg. The Caranos don't expect to change anything else. They will keep the separate name, vineyards and vines. "It reminds them of the way Dry Creek was when they first came here," according to their spokeswoman Cheryl McMillan.

The vineyard, which is less than 40 acres, produces about 3,000 cases of Pinot Noir and Gewürztraminer from a small facility on site. Amy Heller, who was assistant winemaker for the Chandlers, still holds that position, and Christy Griffith, who was a winemaker at Ferrari-Carano, has become the winemaker.
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