Striking building; saving 150-year-old oaks
Location: 7227 Westside Road, Healdsburg: www.williamsselyem.com
Owner: proprietors John and Kathe Dyson
Description: 30,000-square-foot winery with barrel storage, bottling line and hospitality venue
Completion: August 2010
Architecture: structure -- D.arc Group, Pelham, N.Y., and Patrick Mervin Associates, Calistoga; landscape -- Wellborn Associates, Graton; interiors — Lauren Brandwein Design, Santa Rosa
General contractor: Jim Murphy & Associates, Santa Rosa
Engineering: mechanical -- Guttmann & Blaevoet, Santa Rosa; civil -- Atterbury & Associates, Healdsburg; structural -- Summit Engineering, Santa Rosa; electrical -- Suite 16, Santa Rosa; soils -- Bauer Associates, Forestville
Project cost: $14.8 million
RUSSIAN RIVER VALLEY -- John and Kathe Dyson acquired Williams Selyem in 1998 and nearly a decade later embarked upon construction of a facility befitting one of Sonoma County’s most exclusive wine brands.
Construction started in September 2007 and was completed in phases over the past three years.
The new winery provides more-efficient space for aging wine and more scenic venues for hosting visits or events for mailing-list members. Since the Dysons have owned the brand, production has increased from 8,000 cases a year to 15,000.
Some functions will continue to be handled off site. Grapes from the two estate vineyards and a number of longtime suppliers still will be crushed and partly fermented in leased space at Allen Ranch a half-mile north of the new winery. Williams Selyem makes mainly pinot noir, chardonnay and zinfandel wines starting at about $35 a bottle for 2008 “unoaked” chardonnay and pinot noirs from the Dysons’ Central Coast property and various Sonoma County vineyards. Most other wines start at $50 a bottle.
Four years ago, the winery outsourced fulfillment of its wine, limiting the need for a lot of warehouse space. New Vine of Napa had handled fulfillment until its ownership transition in June 2009. Now handling that function is Winetasting.com, also of Napa.
Various aspects of the winery project were designed to limit environmental impact.
“It was really important to John that we were keeping the trees and rocks that were part of the property,” said Bob Cabral, winemaker and general manager.
For example, the building was designed with a 15 degree right angle in the middle to fit between two oak trees estimated to be 150 and 300 years old. And to protect the roots of one of them, the winery’s concrete loading dock “floats” on carefully positioned piers.
The property and new winery have a number of recycled components, including glass, metal and wood. Stone tiles on the interior walls of the east entrance were fashioned from rock excavated since the first vines were planted on the property in 2001. The road connecting the new winery to Westside Road was covered several years ago with nearly 70,000 tons of gravel crushed from that rock.
Beside the zinc panels on the front arched roof, another prominent feature is redwood boards under the roof on the eastern entrance along the sides of the building, on the ceilings of the public areas and custom cellar doors. Those were milled from 50-year-old tanks purchased from the Almaden winery and stored at the Dysons' Central Coast facility for years. To continue with the wine barrel design motif, the boards were installed in a specific matching order to resemble barrel staves.