THE WINERY

  

Over the years Ehren has made wine in buckets, barrels and bins; in garages, caves and wineries; under cover and under duress.  He has designed and built facilities for Neyers Vineyards and Turley Wine Cellars, but never one for himself.  It was time for his own bricks and mortar as well as a subterranean barrel storage facility – aka “caves”. 

In 2004, we purchased 10 acres of land on the Silverado Trail complete with vintage yellow farm house and late-1800’s stone winery begging for recommissioning after a recent, shortlived, detour as a hard apple-cider mill.  The parcel also bore an ailing five acre cider-apple orchard sheepishly hunched on prime Napa Valley hillsides and destined to be replaced by vines.  In addition to renovating the existing facility, which boasts two-foot-thick rock walls, to house our office and tasting room, we are building a 4000 square foot, bi-level fermentation room featuring gravity-flow wine movement.

    


    

Prior to construction, during a period when our assistant Michael Scorsone lived in the farmhouse, a pride of mountain lions appeared to have taken a wrong turn coming out of hibernation.  The first beast laid siege to the residence, crashing through a window in pursuit of a cat and making short work of it…inside!  Within a week a trio of adolescents was on the front doorstep and they weren’t looking for sugar.  Let’s just say we now have the emergency after-hours phone number for the Department of Fish and Game tattooed to our eyelids.

Once construction began in 2005, our goal was to crush 2006 fruit at our own facility; however, Mother Nature had other plans.  September: Earthmovers arrive to build a road and carve out the crush pad - Ehren gets to play with really really big construction equipment.  October: Concrete trucks arrive to spray an 80-foot long, 20-foot high, 6-inch thick concrete retaining wall – Ehren gets to brandish a massive hose in broad daylight.  November: Horizontal diamond-tipped drilling rig arrives to bore into the hillside for 25-foot “soil nails” – Ehren gets to operate world’s most expensive corkscrew.  December: 12 inches of rain falls in 2 days.  If a concrete wall and 200 cubic yards of mud collapse in the forest and there is no one to hear, does it make a mess?

  
December 17, 2005January 19, 2006

Months of massive mopping later, the retaining walls are back in place but our goal has been derailed, encouraging us to refocus on drilling the caves and pouring the crush pad for Harvest of 2007.  And originally intended as our eventual residence, the farmhouse has been pressed into service as office and temporary tasting room.  With gaggles of wild turkeys taunting Ehren when unarmed and the possibility of mountain lions every spring, the house felt like a hunting lodge which inspired our decorating nod to the venerable Adirondack Camp.  Think overstuffed chairs vs. overpriced pours; mounted 12-pointer vs. vaunted 88-pointer; Ornithological Society vs. Oenological Society.