Sonoma-based wine company Don Sebastiani & Sons upgraded its south Napa winery, now called Steelbird Cellars after birds that populate the area, with new bottling capabilities, high-tech treatment of water to reduce chemicals used, energy-efficient lighting and "showcase" offices and client reception area.
[caption id="attachment_56522" align="alignleft" width="140"] Donny Sebastiani[/caption]
"If there was an end-tier consumer who wanted a private tasting, I was embarrassed to show them those offices, and now it shows the sex appeal of our brands," said Donny Sebastiani, president and chief executive officer. The cost of this project is being kept private too.
The winery in the Napa County Airport industrial area hasn't had a facelift since the 2001 shift from Cecchetti Sebastiani Cellar to the new company led by Don Sebastiani, sons Donny and August, and daughter, Mia. James Jeffrey Architects and Sax and Roscoe Construction, both of Napa, led the project team.
The winery is capable of producing 2.5 million cases annually with two shifts. Production of Don & Sons brands and a few hundred thousand cases a year for custom-winemaking clients sometimes has approached that level, but it is typically about 1.8 million. In the last year, the 10 custom clients included Don & Sons sister company The Other Guys, the Indelilcato family's DFV Wines and Naked Wines, a United Kingdom-based startup that crowd-funds independent winemakers and recently leased the former Blackstone winery in Sonoma Valley.
Part of the winery improvements were for more third-party bottling business, something that picked up with the unexpectedly big 2012 crush, according to Donny Sebastiani. Those upgrades include the ability to fill 3-liter bag-in-box consumer wine packaging as well as water filtration and dechlorination.***
[caption id="attachment_66106" align="alignright" width="162"] Dana Macaulay[/caption]
Sonoma County Vintners hired Dana Macaulay as director of events. She will be managing the 200-member trade group's U.S. and international events such as Sonoma Wine Country Weekend, a joint production with Sonoma Valley Vintners & Growers Alliance.
Ms. Macaulay has more than two decades special-event and hospitality experience, most recently as special events manager for Seghesio Family Vineyards in Healdsburg. She is a member of International Special Events Society and this year ends her two-year tenure as president of the Napa-Sonoma chapter.***
Fresh off the dissolution of the Mendocino Winegrape & Wine Commission this summer, the new marketing organization, Mendocino Winegrowers (mendowine.com), has partnered with Amazon.com to sell more than 500 wines from the county's appellations in the large online retailer's second attempt at wine-to-consumer sales.
About a dozen Mendocino wineries participated in the early November launch of Amazon Wine Marketplace (amazon.com/wine): Philo Ridge Vineyards, Rivino, Albertina Wine Cellars, Barra of Mendocino, Yorkville Cellars, Testa Vineyards, Brutocao Cellars, McFadden Vineyard, Parducci Wine Cellars and Weibel Family Vineyards and Winery. As of late last week, there were 86 listings with Mendocino County or its regions on the label.
Amazon Wine Marketplace currently has nearly 71,000 wine listings, more than a third of which are from the U.S. Of that, 197 listings are from a Sonoma County winegrowing region, and 21 from Napa County.
Amazon.com had started moving toward a wine marketplace with New Vine Logistics several years ago at its American Canyon logistics center. Napa-based WineDirect, formerly IBG, picked up New Vine assets at auction and has been developing the infrastructure of Amazon Wine Marketplace.***
Nearly three years after expanding from franchisees of two Napa UPS Store locations into owner-operators of a wine order fulfillment business in south Napa, Bill and Patti Myers are expanding again. In mid-November, Eagle Rock Fulfillment (707-252-3364, eaglerockshipping.com) leased 16,200 square feet of warehouse space at in the new 105,000-square-foot warehouse at 1560 Airport Blvd. in south Napa. The company plans to consolidate by March from its current 10,000-square-foot fulfillment facility at 831 Gateway Rd. W. plus a leased 17,000-square-foot warehouse.