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[caption id="attachment_19023" align="alignright" width="288" caption="G3 Enterprises proposes to renovate the former Oliveto winery in Healdsburg as offices for 75 people."][/caption]

G3 Enterprises Inc., a Gallo family wine packaging, warehousing and logistics company, wants to overhaul a 108-year-old former winery in Healdsburg as a two-story office building with 15,800 square feet for about 75 employees.

The city Planning Commission on March 23 is set to consider a mitigated negative declaration of environmental impact for rehabilitation of what’s known as the Oliveto winery at 845 Healdsburg Ave. as well as an application for design review and a variance for encroachment into the railroad right of way behind the building.

The comment period for the environmental document is Feb. 20 through March 20.

Lynn Goldberg, city planner in charge of current projects, said G3 hasn't noted what tenant would go into the building. The project is located in an area zoned for office uses.

The proposal calls for “adaptive reuse” to bring the building, much of which is said to be in “very poor condition,” up to modern standards such as the city’s new green-building ordinance and national guidelines for historic buildings, according to documents filed with the city. The winery building is said to be eligible for the National Registry but not listed.

Modesto-based G3 wants to install a new roof, copula and windows; strengthen the structure with second-floor beam and joist upgrades and reinforced concrete between and above the brick walls; remove part of the second floor for new stairs and a “light well” atrium; add new entrances around the building; create 79 parking spaces; and add period gutters and downspouts feeding to a stormwater-management system.

E&J Gallo Winery started leasing the 2.8-acre property in 1978 and purchased it in 1987, according to the project documents. Oliveto, Passalaqua and Paul Masson wineries were tenants over the years. Gallo noted that its most recent use was storage of wine barrels.

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[caption id="attachment_19024" align="alignleft" width="324" caption=" Manchester Ridge Vineyard"][/caption]

For wineries that need to find grapes for upscale pinot noir based on bottle prices of about $30 rather than $50 or higher, the seller of a long-term lease on a ridgetop vineyard on the Mendocino Coast thinks he has the solution.

"Probably where we're headed as an industry is to make quality cost a whole lot less," said Marc Deprey, president of leaseholder Manchester Ridge LLC.

On March 15 NorCal Vineyards will be holding a silent auction for a 20-year lease with five-year renewal option on the 164-acre Manchester Ridge Vineyard. Tandem, Aurteur and Ogden are brands that were made from the grapes until contracts were allowed to expire last year.

The operator has spent more than $6 million clearing timber on 30 acres and planting 19 acres to pinot noir and 11 to chardonnay. The lease originally went on the market in spring 2009 for $3.8 million, just after a pond dispute with the State Water Resources Control Board was settled.

The property has been positioned to sell before the typical April period for grape purchases, according to Mr. Deprey. The new price reflects a projected operating cost of $2,800-a-ton.

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The Best apple-growing family near Sebastopol got a nod Tuesday from the four present Sonoma County supervisors for a General Plan amendment to build a 26,500-case-a-year winery and tasting room at 2065 Highway 116 North.

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The light-brown apple moth and European grapevine moth will be hot items for discussion at an all-day Napa Valley Grapegrowers workshop on sustainable viticulture at Yountville Community Hall on March 10.

This comes as state agriculture officials said last week they do not plan aerial spraying for the grapevine moth.

There also will be panels on mealybugs, leafroll virus, existing threats such as Pierce's disease and potential threats.

Registration costs $85 for members and $125 otherwise. Space is limited to 150 people. Six continuing-education credits are available.

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A number of wineries have tweaked their tasting venues.

Vintage Wine Estates, which owns Windsor Vineyards and recently bought a stake in Kunde, is looking to return a tasting presence to downtown Healdsburg. Windsor Vineyards had a tasting room at 308 Center St. in Healdsburg until it gave it up to focus on the Tiburon venue. Foster’s Wine Estates set up its Cellar360 room there, and it became a Souverain room when Cellar360 opened in San Francisco.

Now, Vintage is seeking city approval to come into the Souverain location after Foster’s relocates the brand to its Asti winery. Healdsburg recently enacted a limit on new downtown tasting rooms after 20 have been established near the plaza, mostly in the past few years.

Only one tasting venue is allowed per "block face," or both sides of a block facing a street, and proposals must be reviewed by the Planning Commission.

City staff is recommending the commission approve the Vintage proposal at its Tuesday meeting, considering that the location, opened in 1997, is the oldest sampling salon, said City Planner Lynn Goldberg.

In other developments on the tasting room front, Richard and Kae Rosenberg of Grape Leaf Inn in Healdsburg are opening the 30-seat Prohibition – The Speakeasy Wine Club this month at 340 Healdsburg Ave. The club will serve Burgundy-style wines from Russian River and Dry Creek valleys as well as beer.

Etude Wines (www.etudewines.com) in Napa Carneros revamped offices as a reserve tasting room.

Ma(i)sonry Napa Valley (www.maisonry.com) in Yountville boosted its list of vintner partners to 15 with the addition of Juslyn Vineyards, L'Angevin Wines, Peirson Meyer, Rivera Vineyards, Skipstone, Tamber Bey and Uvaggio. About 100 wineries have asked to join the art, furniture and wine “gallery,” according to Ma(i)sonry President Paul Leary. It was started by Blackbird Vineyards owner Michael Polenske.

The In Vino Unitas group (www.invinounitas.org) of 26 directly shipped brands took its tasting road show to Napa, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Newport Beach and San Diego in early March.

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Hanna Vineyards and Winery in Alexander Valley hired Bevill Vineyard & Estate Management to oversee 140 acres of Hanna’s Sonoma County estate vineyards.  These include the Red Ranch in Alexander Valley and the Slusser Road and Home Ranch in Russian River Valley.

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The Seminar Group will host Best Practices for Owning and Operating a Winery on March 18 and 19 at the Napa Valley Marriott. The conference will provide guidance on legal, regulatory, technical and operational issues. Thursday’s speakers will address wine business and marketing, and on Friday topics will cover facility development and sustainable management. CLE credits are available. For more information, go to www.theseminargroup.net.

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Robert Mondavi Winery will be presenting a Napa Valley “Tweetup” seminar on social networking (facebook.com/NapaValleyTweetup) March 12 at the Napa Valley Marriott. Speakers will be Michael Brito, vice president of Edelman Digital Media; Jennifer Leggio, strategic communication director at Fortinet and a blogger on social media for ZDNet; and Paul Mabray, chief strategy officer for Vintank. Registration costs $20.

***Wine People

[caption id="attachment_19026" align="alignleft" width="180" caption="Jim McMahon"][/caption]

Luna Vineyards in Napa Valley promoted Jim McMahon to winemaker after Mike Drash resigned after the 2009 harvest to start his own brand. He came to the winery as assistant winemaker in 2006.

Among the 15 members of the steering committee for the glassy-winged sharpshooter and Pierce’s disease statewide assessment referendum (www.protectyourvineyard.com) are Paul Dolan of Paul Dolan Vineyards in Ukiah, Pete Downs of Jackson Family Wines in Santa Rosa, Roger King of King Andrews Vineyards in Fairfield, Doug McIlroy of Rodney Strong Vineyards in Healdsburg, Steve Smit of Constellation Wines in Healdsburg and Bob Steinhauer of Winelands Consulting in St. Helena.

The state Food and Agriculture Department will send ballots to about 6,500 winegrape growers statewide in late March about creation of an assessment to fund research. California Association of Winegrape Growers, Family Winemakers of California and the Wine Institute are supporting the campaign.

Assemblyman Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, is set to recognize Ramona Nicholson of Nicholson Ranch in Sonoma County as his 2010 Woman of the Year for the Sixth Assembly District. She operates the family-owned and operated vineyard and winery and is involved in the Sonoma Valley Vintners & Growers Alliance.

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Submit items for this column to Jeff Quackenbush at jquackenbush@busjrnl.com, 707-521-4256 or fax 707-521-5292.