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[caption id="attachment_19564" align="alignright" width="180" caption="Jim Henderson and Jim Ford"][/caption]

Instead of the urban winery going rural, we see the economic development opportunity of the existing downtown vacant spaces supporting new urban wineries.

Most recently we have seen a trend in Crushpad's relocation this month from San Francisco to the outskirts of Napa. While this is a logical evolution it becomes just another custom crush facility.

We see the ultimate solution as re-combining crush and winery operations into existing commercial space.

The idea of simplifying is something local wineries are getting hip to as well. Bring the winery closer to the consumer by utilizing vacant commercial or industrial space. This supports the latest trend in tasting rooms of knocking down the barriers between visitors and winemakers, letting guests observe the workings of the winery at their leisure, with a glass of wine in hand.

[caption id="attachment_19565" align="alignright" width="194" caption="Siduri Wines, started in 1994, and Novy Family Wines are made in an industrial development in northwest Santa Rosa."][/caption]

But if there's any town where such an unconventional winery could succeed, it's in Santa Rosa's Railroad Square. Santa Rosa already has Siduri Wines and custom winemaking facilities Copain Custom Crush and Vinify Wine Services operating in the northwest industrial area, and Industry West Commerce Center in the southwest area has initial entitlements for wineries.

Yet, the next new urban winery owner should consider the benefits of locating their urban winery closer to the visitor and food. This supports one of the major suggestions for downtown Santa Rosa in the American Institute of Architects' 1998 R/UDAT report on redesign opportunities in downtown Santa Rosa: Celebrate and market Santa Rosa as the food and wine capital of California.

Santa Rosa is not the only candidate for the new urban winery. We see the trend has already started in Healdsburg, Sebastopol and Sonoma. Urban wineries can be located in any city, but the proximity to vineyards is important if grapes are crushed on site.

However, some wineries offer crushing services, allowing just juice to be trucked to the winery and dramatically lowering the process wastewater discharge headaches with local jurisdictions. Yet a number of technologies are emerging to cost-effectively treat and recycle winery process wastewater.

There has been much talk about the converging of tasting rooms in Healdsburg, but the Seghesio family-owned and -run winery is a great example of a winery working well within the city limits. Winemaking moved to Sebastopol in the former Vacu-dry facility that has become a cluster of start-up wineries. Sonoma Vineburg is a sleeping giant of wineries and supporting services.

The opportunity of a new urban winery is to not just bring the winery closer to the consumer. This new urban winery benefits from being able to use the existing infrastructure the commercial and industry has left behind: utilities, access and parking, buildings and keeping urban impact contained. Thus, costs of entitlements are reduced, and the time from the vision phase to operational use is minimized.

This urban location has the potential of for more incentives and less political opposition than rural alternatives. This avoids the usual rural setting impact and allows vineyards to remain vineyards and open space. Fewer impacts can lead to more wineries being built more quickly than a rural one for less cost.

There is even an opportunity to locate a new urban winery adjoining the planned Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit, or SMART, line for maximum exposure and opportunity as a visitor-serving use.•••

Jim Ford, REA, and architect Jim Henderson, LEED AP, AIA, are principals of Santa Rosa-based The Fifth Resource Inc., which offers strategic facilities planning, entitlement facilitation, architecture and construction management for wine industry, commercial and residential projects. Seghesio and Industry West Commerce Center have been among the firm's clients.