SEBASTOPOL -- Almost two years after acquiring wine filtration and alcohol-reduction operations from Vinovation, WineSecrets Inc. is relocating to Santa Rosa and distributing its services to facilities closer to vintners in the Central Valley and Pacific Northwest.
WineSecrets is moving its alcohol-adjustment and distillation operations to an 11,000-square-foot location at 980 Airway Court, Ste. C, in Santa Rosa over the next six months, according to President Eric Dahlberg.
Filtration and wine storage services will remain in 26,000 square feet in Sebastopol for at least another year under a deal worked out in April with the property owner, SonomaWest Holdings Inc., according to Mr. Dahlberg and SonomaWest real estate manager Mike Babini.
"The business we inherited in the building in Sebastopol had wine processing and storage, and they tried to do too many things there," Mr. Dahlberg said.
Vinovation occupied about 50,000 square feet in three spaces at the facility when WineSecrets in mid-2008 acquired the operations and licensed the reverse-osmosis filtration technology for removing alcohol for tax and style purposes as well as extracting unwanted elements, such as smoky overtones from the 2008 North Coast wildfires.
WineSecrets had picked up mobile-treatment rigs from Vinovation earlier that year. And in December 2009, WineSecrets licensed a new ceramic filtration system from Australia-based Memstar that allows more precise treatment, according to Mr. Dahlberg.
The company is setting up more treatment equipment in existing and forthcoming locations on the Central Coast, Oregon and Washington.
However, WineSecrets shortly thereafter gave back to Vinovation 20,000 square feet being used for winemaking and casegood storage ventures, according to WineSecrets Vice President Domingo Rodriguez. Vinovation founder and winemaker Clark Smith was making his own brand there for roughly a dozen boutique clients wineries, which now have left to find other facilities, and storing casegoods.
Last year, Vinovation and SonomaWest locked horns over rent due and security deposits, according to the latest regulatory filing by publicly traded SonomaWest, which owns Sebastopol's two former Vacu Dry apple processing plants-turned food processing industrial parks.
The property owner claimed Vinovation at the end of last year owed nearly $81,000 in rent, accruing at $33,500 a month, plus utilities, security deposits and late fees. SonomaWest said it was holding $80,000 in security deposits at year end and intended to apply it to what it claims it is owed.
Vinovation also provided SonomaWest $46,000 in security deposits last year to cover its share of wastewater upgrades to the facility. The dispute over how much is owed whom could be settled in court, according to both sides.
SonomaWest's 439,000 square feet of leasable space in the two facilities at the end of 2009 were 92 percent occupied by 32 tenants, the largest of which is Sonoma Wine Co. in 50,000 square feet.
The company had two other tenant disputes last year. One came out of receivership and paid past-due rent for 29,000 square feet, and another, Carmet Scientific, vacated its 10,000 square feet in December after amassing a bill of $62,000 in rent, utilities and late fees, according to the regulatory filing.
SonomaWest sued Carmet owner Wallis Clark III of Santa Rosa in Sonoma County Superior Court in December. Mr. Clark countersued, claiming $185,000 in physical damage to inventory. A hearing is set for July 22.