Maker of exclusive wines plans to bottle 15,000 cases at new Conde Lane facilities

WINDSOR -- The exclusive DuMol wine brand is set to have a place of its own by harvest this year.

DuMol rose quickly from an idea by owners Michael Verlander and Kerry Murphy in the early 1990s to being poured in the White House and the U.S. embassy in Paris as well as being invited to join the select ranks of wines offered at the Mayacama Golf Club in the hills east of Windsor.

However, with 14,700 cases of mostly 2005 vintage wine released last year, DuMol has outgrown Copain Custom Crush in north Santa Rosa, where winemaker Andy Smith, a protege of A-list consulting vintner Paul Hobbs, has been making the wine.

Though DuMol owns its own fermenting vessels and blending tanks at Copain, the logistics of working around the winemaking schedules of other brands has made the move necessary, according to Mr. Murphy.

Construction started early this month on a 19,600-square-foot winery in Conde Business Park, a new 26-acre industrial park developed by Airport Business Center off Conde Lane north of Shiloh Road. Designed by architect Greg LeDoux of Cotati, the $5 million to $10 million winery at 1400 American Way will feature four barrel rooms with different temperatures and the latest winemaking equipment.

“It’s no longer a hobby,” Mr. Murphy said. The two proprietors met in 1990 when Mr. Kerry was dining in Mr. Verlander’s Walnut Creek restaurant. Mr. Kerry had been collecting wines from Burgundy since he sold the family tire business, Murphy’s Inc., to Goodyear in 1987. The two men decided to start DuMol Wine Co. in 1996, focusing on Burgundy-style pinot noir and chardonnay wines made from Russian River Valley fruit.

The first year they produced 300 cases split evenly between each variety from Dutton Ranch. The wine company now makes viognier and syrah wines as well. Winegrapes are purchased from noted growers such as Charles Heintz in Green Valley, Larry Hyde in Los Carneros and Kent Ritchie in Russian River Valley.

In 2003, DuMol purchased a vineyard that helped boost production from 8,500 cases to 12,000. Though the new winery has a capacity of 20,000 cases a year, likely only about 15,000 will be produced annually, according to Mr. Murphy.

The new winery’s location in a recently established industrial park isn’t a problem, because DuMol doesn’t need a tasting room, he said.

The wine largely has sold out to collectors and fine restaurants months before the spring and fall releases.

The brand’s reputation and sales grew with early high scores from well-known critic Robert Parker. Today, the wait list stretches into 2009 and 2010. Price ranges are $50 to $60 a bottle for Russian River chardonnay, $60 to $80 for pinot noir and mid-$50 to mid-$80 for syrah.

In September 2003, DuMol was invited to be part of Mayacama Golf Club’s vintner program, which now has 31 iconic brands such as Harlan, Silver Oak, Kistler and Tor Kenward of Beringer fame. Vintner members contribute at least a barrel of their finest each year and provide monthly allocations to other members.

Invitation-only membership in the 7-year-old club ranges from $65,000 to $250,000, and split ownership options for new homes at the course range from $650,000 to $1.5 million.

The Windsor location was serendip-itously close to Mayacama, located off the east end of Shiloh Road, but the main driver for the location was proximity to Russian River fruit, according to Mr. Murphy.

DuMol isn’t the first winery to call Windsor home. Jackson Family Wines has had its main North Coast blending, barrel aging and bottling facility located in Airport Business Center to the south for nearly two decades. Albini Family Vineyards started in 1991 on the west edge of Windsor and makes 500 cases a year. Inman Family Wines, which has its winery and vineyard in Russian River Valley recently opened a tasting room and warehouse just north of Jackson.

Jeff Luchetti Construction of Santa Rosa is the general contractor for the DuMol winery project.

For more information, call 925-254-8922 or visit www.dumol.com.