Francis Ford Coppola had about 450 applicants turn out earlier this month for 130 positions at his newly renovated Geyserville winery. The number of experienced applicants, mainly in hospitality functions, negated the need for a second job fair, according to a spokeswoman.

[caption id="attachment_21502" align="alignright" width="324" caption="Renovation of Francis Ford Coppola’s Geyserville winery is set to be complete by July."][/caption]

Still open during renovations, the winery is set to fully reopen in July as a “very family-friendly” venue, with pools, games and smoothie tasting for children. For the parents there will be memorabilia from Mr. Coppola’s filmmaking career, wine tasting and presentations in the 200-seat performing arts center. The temporary tasting room will move back from the production facility into the main building.

Currently, there are no plans for further phases of the approved renovation project, which includes lodging.


The battle against the European grapevine moth has expanded to six California counties. Federal quarantine areas as of May 17 cover 140 square miles of Ukiah Valley in Mendocino County and 1,159 square miles of Sonoma, Napa and Solano counties from Healdsburg and west of Windsor south to San Pablo Bay and east to Suisun Bay and Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield. Also included are nearly 100 square miles southeast of Fresno.

Trapping continues to find the boundaries of the moth’s spread, with the radius of focus now at five miles from a finding instead of three miles, according to local agriculture officials.

A survey is under way in an 80-square-mile area around Soledad in Monterey County, where a moth was found earlier this month.

A national panel of experts is looking for eradication options for the moth, whose larvae feed on grape clusters and contribute to bunch rot. For information, visit www.countyofnapa.org/agcommissioner/egm/ or www.cdfa.ca.gov/phpps/egvm/.


Healdsburg-based Ascentia Wine Estates, which started in June 2008 with more than $200 million raised from GESD Capital Partners of San Francisco and wine marketer W.J. Deutsch & Sons of New York, is now in a legal battle with the latter.

W.J. Deutsch sued Ascentia in Delaware, where Ascentia was formed, earlier this month, alleging fraud and mismanagement and claiming Ascentia is insolvent. Ascentia took over its own brand sales and marketing from W.J. Deutsch earlier this year.

Ascentia Chief Executive Officer Jim DeBonis denied the insolvency allegation in a statement and accused W.J. Deutsch of “spreading negative information” about the company.


Recent crop reports underscore the larger 2009 winegrape crop in the North Coast. In Napa County, producing acreage was virtually unchanged last year at 43,000 acres, but crop size bounced back from the 2008 frost with 23 percent growth to nearly 143,000 tons and the total crop value by a similar proportion to $495 million.

Sonoma County’s winegrape acreage grew by 1.6 percent to 56,300 acres and produced 212,675 tons, or 25.8 percent more than the frost-fraught 2008 crop. Crop value was $465 million, an increase of almost 23 percent.


Pigs will soon be flying through winery pipes. Named after the squealing noise made by devices the petroleum industry uses to maintain  pipe interiors, these food-grade silicone “pigs” were devised by ARS Enterprises of Calistoga to move the remainder of wine between areas of a winery without water as well as clean deposits left in the pipes.

ARS, which installs steam-cleaning systems for sterilizing winery equipment with 90 percent less water and higher heat, released the pipe pig earlier this year, according to President Glenn Caster.

Traditionally, water has been used to push wine through pipes from production to bottling without allowing air to damage wine. Yet there would be wasting of water and wine as an operator in the bottling building would have to watch a clear section of pipe for the stream to turn clear from the water.

The ARS pig would push wine along like a plunger, propelled by an inert gas such as nitrogen or by steam. The company packages the pig with sterile clamps and a steam generator to turn a section of pipe into an autoclave to remove condensates with steam-transferred heat of 260 degrees Fahrenheit.

Such a system, including wands for cleaning tanks and barrels runs less than $10,000.

Rombauer is the first winery to install the ARS pig system, putting it into the new south Napa production facility.

One of the problems with using a pig for wine transport is different sizes of pipes, according to Mr. Caster. For example, a pig 2 inches in diameter, a common pipe size, and can get stuck when reaching a smaller pipe or not seal properly when encountering a larger one. For that reason, ARS now offers pigs in other diameters of common sanitary winery piping, or 1.5 inches, 3 inches and 4 inches.


Nordby Construction of Santa Rosa thinks there is a market for renovating rusting steel buildings on winery properties to put them back into use quickly as energy-efficient facilities.

“We don’t see a lot of ground-up construction,” said President Craig Nordby.

The company recently completed a $1.5 million renovation and expansion project in Healdsburg at Seghesio Winery, “reskinning” an existing barrel warehouse and building a 7,250-square-foot new one to house 1,800 to 2,000 more barrels. The Fifth Resource of Santa Rosa designed the project.

Removing and recycling the old sheeting on the existing building, sandblasting rust from the structure, bolstering supports to modern standards and installing exterior panels insulated to an R-42 rating in the walls and R-60 in the roof took just two months and was permitted as maintenance. Highway-style guardrails were installed as interior forklift protection to save costs.

Other energy-saving features were remote-controlled rollup doors that can move open or close in five seconds and the ability to install solar electricity-generating and water-heating systems.


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

CLARIFICATION, May 26, 2010: ARS Enterprises offers pipe cleaner "pigs" in the common winery sanitary pipe diameters of 1.5, 2, 3 and 4 inches. Incomplete information was provided for this column.