Rack & Riddle sets Healdsburg winery opening

HEALDSBURG -- Rack & Riddle Custom Wine Services, one of the North Coast's largest custom winemakers, said it plans to have its second Sonoma County winery, located in Healdsburg, initially operational and have the company moved out of Hopland by mid-June.

Work on the 67,000-square-foot winery at 499 Moore Ln. in Healdsburg has been progressing since it was first leased in October. It is expected to be functionally operational June 15, with full capabilities expected Aug. 1, according to Rack & Riddle (707-744-8100, rackandriddle.com).

"We're thrilled to have expanded our Sonoma County footprint to some 120,000 square feet over the course of just nine months," said Bruce Lundquist, co-owner of Rack & Riddle. "It's been a long-held goal to offer our clients more winemaking options and increased production capabilities. Now, with two locations in the heart of Sonoma County wine country, we can."

Rack & Riddle has occupied its Alexander Valley crush and fermentation center, located at 4001 Highway 128 between Healdsburg and Geyserville, since Jan. 1. The Healdsburg facility, a few blocks from the Healdsburg town square, focuses on making sparkling wine, as well as still-wine bottling and alternative wine packaging.

"It fills an important niche in the industry giving smaller producers an opportunity to create world class wines right in town," said Healdsburg Mayor Jim Wood in the announcement.

Rack & Riddle has been based in a 100,000-square-foot Hopland winery since the company launched seven years ago. The now Healdsburg-based company will be fully moved out of there in the next two months, the company said. Last year, St. Helena-based Duckhorn Wine Co. purchased it as a base for the 300,000-case-a-year Decoy brand.

"Since our inception, it's been an important part of our strategic business plan to have a Sonoma County presence," said Rebecca Faust, Rack & Riddle co-owner. "We feel the centrally-located facilities, increased winemaking space, and also the ability to offer either 'Healdsburg' or 'Geyserville' for clients' back labels, are all attractive benefits we otherwise could not have provided from the Hopland location."

Rack & Riddle said it expects significant growth through increased bottling and more stainless-steel tank and tirage storage capacity. Storage and fermentation capacity now is about 2 million gallons. The company added 15 jobs in Alexander Valley, and new jobs are expected to be created in coming months.

Rack & Riddle has seen business soar by nearly 43 percent in the past two years. Last year, production topped 1 million cases for 100-plus clients. That's up from 850,000 in 2012 and 700,000 in 2011. The company offers grape-to-bottle, base-to-bottle and "shiner" programs for private labels.

"This expansion into Healdsburg and Alexander Valley provides the space we need during an exciting time of unprecedented growth," Ms. Faust said.

A grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Healdsburg winery is set for Aug. 27.

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