Massive climate-controlled storage and distribution facilities serve the wine industry

When is a warehouse more than just a typical warehouse? When it comes with classic mission-style architectural features that make it look like a better fit for an upscale office complex or business park.

The Stravinski Development Group is putting the finishing touches on a pair of large warehouse and distribution facilities designed to tie the American Canyon economy with the Napa Valley using a creative wine country motif destined to become the envy of the industry.

This two-building complex located at 644 and 677 Hanna Drive in American Canyon occupies more than 718,000 square feet and is situated on a 50-acre parcel in the Oat Hill region south of Green Island Road between Route 29 and the bay.

“With U.S. and global demand for California wine continuing to move up and to the right on the sales charts, wineries are hard pressed to find adequate space to store their products in a way that will ensure the distinctive and superior elements, attributes and exceptional characteristics they put in the bottle,” said Neil Thompson with the Stravinski Development Group, a firm that has already built and owns more than 3 million square feet of wine-specific warehouse space.

“Quality assurance is not for amateurs or the faint of heart, and there are no shortcuts. Today many wine producers are turning to a new generation of experts with the know-how and specialized facilities to store wine under ideal climate-controlled conditions,” he added. “As the retail customer becomes more knowledgeable, premium wineries must give premium care to their product throughout its life cycle, not just at the winery.”

Early occupancy of the Phase I building, with 411,000 square feet of storage space, began in August 2008, and several tenants have already occupied the first structure. Phase II, with an additional 307,000 square feet, will be available for occupancy in early 2009. Included within these buildings is 8,000 square feet in Phase I and 6,000 square feet in Phase II for corporate offices.

“What makes these buildings special is that they have been designed to deliver a ‘cave-like’ environment that maintains an ideal temperature setting no matter what time of day or season of the year,” said Carl Butts, with Riechers Spence & Associates, the civil engineers for this project.

“These facilities are equipped with an energy-efficient night-air cooling system using fans and louvers to draw cool air through the buildings if the outside temperature drops low enough after the sun goes down. The buildings also have multiple, complete refrigeration systems to provide premium care, custody and control of the stored products. To help maintain proper internal climate conditions and reduce energy use, these facilities were constructed using solid sheet R-30.6 insulation on the roof and durable white-faced R-10.2 wall insulation. Low temperature T-8 fluorescent lighting with motion sensors were also installed to achieve further energy savings. The lights are off unless motion is detected.”

The Hanna Court complex is environmentally sensitive, and precautions have been taken to guard against possible effects associated with earthquakes, a risk not recognized when the first warehouses were built in the industrial parks in American Canyon and Napa County.

The planning process also included a program to ensure that animals, birds and plants in the North Slough and surrounding areas are protected in an open space easement granted to the city of American Canyon.

An advanced percolating storm runoff system detains and treats water through a gravel media to ensure that contaminants or clay sediment are eliminated before water is released into the drainage system. Special seismic couplings were installed on both sides of the water supply as a double-check precaution in the event of a quake. Landscaping includes local indigenous plants arranged to complement the buildings.

The 411,000-square-foot building is cross-docked, and both buildings feature generous truck courts for easy and efficient access. Receiving and shipping bays are equipped with 40,000-pound dock levelers and dock door seals to maintain environmental conditions without drafts and temperature changes during loading and unloading operations.

The mission-style architecture replicated at Hanna Court is characterized by a variable roofline with a variety of offsets, extensions and recessed facades. Corner towers reach high above the standard roof height and feature tall 10-foot window panels. Other areas of the main building have a series of two and three multi-panel, bevel-capped windows interspersed with a circular accent window at the apex of the building just beneath the second-floor overhanging roof. Arching, broad winery-style double doors greet visitors and tenants at the entrance facing the street. Different warm color tones were used for each vertical section of the structure to add variety and interest.

“Architecturally speaking, and when it comes to functionality, this new warehouse and distribution center is not just as good as it gets, it’s far better. This facility is at the upper end of what you see in the wine industry today,” Mr. Thompson said.