Wine storer plans Healdsburg custom crush

[caption id="attachment_87721" align="alignnone" width="500"] Architectural rendering of Red Custom Crush's new winery at 1430 Grove St. in Healdsburg. The City Council approved the project by Sauers Properties in November 2013, and the winery is set to be open by harvest 2014.[/caption]

HEALDSBURG -- A major North Coast provider of wine bulk storage plans to open its own winery for hire in time for harvest this fall.

One of the biggest constraints for vintners and growers in the region last season was a lack of available storage capacity at wineries to receive more grapes, what some called "tank lock." That's why the partners behind Premium Wine Storage near Charles M. Schulz--Sonoma County Airport plans to open a custom winery in an 18,000-square-foot leased industrial building under construction at 1430 Grove St. in Healdsburg.

"We've been at it for 12 years as Premium Wine Storage, and we were looking for the next thing, which is custom crush," said co-owner Heath Dolan, also a farmer of 200 acres of Mendocino County grapes and a founder of Truett-Hurst, a publicly traded wine company. He's also the son of well-known North Coast vintner Paul Dolan.

To be called Red Custom Crush, the operation is set to have 1.1 million gallons in stainless-steel tank storage in pre-engineered metal building, allowing for crushing 5,000 to 6,000 tons of grapes annually in a 120 foot by 20 foot outside crushpad.

That's about the crush capacity of custom winery 4001 Cellars in Geyserville, whose operations Rack & Riddle Custom Wine Services is taking over this spring as it relocates from Hopland. Mr. Dolan noted a number of custom wineries that have shifted to private use in the past few years as production capacity has become paramount for growing brands.

Among the examples are Duckhorn Wine Company's acquisition of Rack & Riddle Custom Wine Services' Hopland winery last year, Francis Ford Coppola's purchase also last year of Geyser Peak's Geyserville winery, which had a number of custom winemaking clients, and Vintage Wine Estates acquisition of a large custom winery also near Hopland from the Weibel family in 2012.

At the same time, there has been expansion among custom vintners. For example, the Rippey family acquired the former Buena Vista winery on Ramal Road in Los Carneros as a second location for Carneros Vintners, and Rack & Riddle ended up with more square footage in the relocation to Geyserville and Healdsburg.

Premium Wine Storage has 2.2 million gallons of tank capacity at 1450 Airport Blvd. north of Santa Rosa. Similar to that facility, Red Custom Crush likely will offer about 1 million gallons for aging of wine with microxidation and client-provided oak-stave systems, both of which approximate desired attributes of oak barrels.

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