ST. HELENA — Hall Wines is putting the finishing touches on its fully restored 1885 Bergfeld historic winery, a new visitor center and tasting room, as well as its upgraded and expanded production facilities, gardens and outdoor gathering spaces — including a unique “stickwork” sculpture.
Visitors are welcome daily, and tours of the newly revitalized campus are scheduled to begin in October and November.
These construction and renovation projects, started in 2006, were completed in time to celebrate the release of the 2010 Hall (“Kathryn Hall”) Cabernet Sauvignon on Sept. 21 at a special Cajun-style event entitled “Les Bon Temps” (The Good Times) that featured a live Zydeco band, crawfish and Hall wines.
In restoring the 128-year-old classic hand-made wood and quarried stone structure, owners and vintners Craig and Kathryn Hall wanted to see the 5,200-square-foot legacy building brought back to its original appearance to become the centerpiece of the winery located at 401 St. Helena Ave. (Route 29) just south of St. Helena (hallwines.com).
The 49-foot tall Bergfeld winery was reconstructed from a single tattered photo, since most of the upper story had fallen away due to age and weathering, and there were no existing blueprints.
“It is a historic treasure dating back to one of the oldest wineries in Napa Valley. The second story provides scenic views at the widest point between the Mayacamas and Vaca mountain ranges,” Ms. Hall said.
A New England sea captain named Peterson originally built the structure. It was subsequently owned by Robert Bergfeld, head of one of the first families to make wine in Napa Valley.
“When Mr. Bergfeld purchased the land, he chiseled Peterson’s name off a masonry block and carved his own name on it instead,” she added.
The architect for the project was Jarrod A. Denton, AIA, with Signum Architects. The general contractor was Hathaway Dinwiddie, and the landscape architect was James Burnett and Associates.
Hall Wines is considered to be one of a few “ghost wineries” in the Napa Valley, built on property that had been abandoned for years, leading some to believe the old building is haunted.
“After hearing the stories, we decided to test the Bergfeld building and grounds for paranormal activity,” Ms. Hall said with tongue in cheek. “We asked a psychic to touch its walls and were surprised to receive authentic confirmation of a presence.”
These renovation projects are a mix of new technology and legacy traditions.
The old-world charm of the rebuilt winery contrasts with the modern glass wall vignette, steel and concrete of the new 3,000-square-foot Hall Wine visitor center and tasting room complete with an outdoor deck and seating area.
This new building also houses a demonstration kitchen, a wine clubroom and other spaces devoted to wine education, meetings and social events.
With the removal of an old warehouse surrounding the historic winery, fermentation and storage tanks were relocated to Hall Wine’s newly expanded production building. This move enabled the Halls to add a number of advanced, gravity-fed fermentation tanks increasing capacity from 85,000 to 120,000 cases of its unfiltered wine.
The enhanced winery deploys the latest technology, such as an optical sorter to increase both the quality and quantity of grapes selected.
Kathryn Walt Hall and her family are no strangers to the wine business. The Walt family has been grape growers in Mendocino County since 1972 with 63 acres of cabernet sauvignon, gamay, zinfandel, and sauvignon blanc. Ms. Hall managed the family vineyard from 1982 to 1992.
She and husband Craig, head of the Dallas-based Hall Financial Group, an art collector and entrepreneur, purchased what is now the Hall St. Helena winery and vineyards in 2003.
”So much of what appeals to Napa Valley visitors is outdoors [that] we wanted to create a variety of gathering spaces and outdoor rooms throughout the property using native trees adapted to the local climate and drought-tolerant plants, such as lavender,” Ms. Hall added. “We now have vegetable and flower gardens, open grassy areas, an oak grove and olive grove enabling us to have wine pairings with vegetables and herbs grown in our own garden.”
Another outdoor feature is a “stickwork” sculpture — named Deck the Halls — crafted by world-renowned artist Patrick Dougherty. He is known for creating larger-than-life structures around the globe using willow cuttings from local trees that need pruning.
Gathering raw material in this way has no long-term impact — an aspect that is important to Hall.
Hall Wines was California’s first LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certified winery, and the Halls anticipate achieving the same status for the new construction and renovation work.
Hall Wines also has a high tech, energy efficient charging station along with ample free parking.
”My job is to make a compelling work that excites the imagination and causes passersby to come running,” Mr. Dougherty said.
The stickwork includes five turrets, tall cylindrical structures connected by tunnels to a series of round tiny rooms. “This is a very playful art form where people can walk inside,” Ms. Hall said. “It’s pretty cool!”
Over the past 30 years Mr. Dougherty has built more than 230 stickwork installations from Scotland to Japan to Brussels and all over the U.S. Mr. Dougherty invited volunteers from the community to help him put it all together from September 3 through September 20.
Craig and Kathryn Hall believe in having a small carbon footprint and operating in a sustainable manner. They organically farm nearly 280 acres of estate vineyards in five AVAs producing classic Bordeaux varietals with a focus on crafting Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon.
The Hall Wines estate vineyards include: the Sacrashe Vineyard (Rutherford AVA), Hall “Bergfeld” Vineyard (St. Helena AVA), the Hardester Ranch (Napa Valley AVA), Atlas Peak Estate (Atlas Peak AVA) and the T-Bar-T Ranch in the Alexander Valley AVA.
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