Large custom vintner expands to former Buena Vista winery

Nearly a year after a Napa-based custom vintner announced its expansion into the former Buena Vista winery in Los Carneros winegrowing region straddling Sonoma and Napa counties, another custom winemaking operation announced it is doing the same.

The Vintners Group, which operates Carneros Vintners (www.carnerosvintners.com) and Lodi Vintners, signed a lease with facility owner VinREIT, part of Entertainment Properties Trust, for the Ramal Road winery. The plan is to purchase the facility next year, according to Tyson Rippey, director of operations.

Tentatively renamed Carneros Vintners East, the winery has 600,000 gallons of wine storage and 1,500 tons of annual crush capacity.

"The Vintners Group had already seen the need for a high-quality, large-lot-size winery in the North Coast area, which was confirmed with the overwhelming demand at the original Carneros Vintners," Mr. Rippey said in a statement. "The Ramal Road facility allows us to further cater to the high end, larger volume pinot noir customers in the area within close proximity to our Stage Gulch Road location."

He said the Ramal Road facility is an ideally positioned pinot noir custom winery, being located in Los Carneros winegrowing region known for that variety and nearly on the border of Napa and Sonoma counties to shorten delivery times for grapes.

To keep continuity from the 2011 crush, The Vintners Group said it will keep on winemaker Geoff Murray, formerly with Bin to Bottle and Napa Wine Co., the facilities manager and certain cellar staff.

Planned winery upgrades include a full-size truck scale and a VinX2 software database system. The Vintners Group this summer is installing a Della Tofolla flash detante grape-crushing system at Carneros Vintners. Though common in Europe for improving extraction and reducing flavors from unripe grapes, it is said to be the first such installation in the North Coast.

Last August, Napa-based Bin to Bottle announced it would operate the Ramal Road facility.

Rutherford-based Boisset Family Estates acquired the Buena Vista brand in April 2011 from Healdsburg-based Ascentia Wine Estates, which had moved the brand to Healdsburg and last month sold its remaining brands.


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