Wine: First Lake Co. wine warehouse planned

The wine business in Lake County has grown to the point that it needs more of its own support businesses. And wineries in the North Coast's high country may be getting their first public wine warehouse.

Under a plan by one of Lake County's significant owners of commercial property, the long-vacant 18,600-square-foot grocery store at High Street Village Center on Lakeport's main thoroughfare would be transformed into an insulated, chilled and surveilled warehouse capable of holding up to 150,000 cases.

[caption id="attachment_92499" align="alignright" width="450"] Owners of a Lakeport shopping center plan to convert this former grocery store into Lake County's first public wine casegoods warehouse, shown in an architectural rendering here. (credit: Rick Gunier)[/caption]

Called Lake County Wine Cellar, this service would allow vintners to store their finished wine locally, rather then having it trucked back and forth from public wine warehouses in Santa Rosa or Napa and American Canyon.

"Some of the wineries that make people's wine store it for them," said Rick Gunier, marketing director for the venture and co-owner of North Coast Winegrapes. "With Lake County wine business' having grown to more than 40 wineries now, a lot of people are driving over the hill to get this service."

One of the challenges for new wine producers in Lake County is the high cost for delivery companies to send a truck to move wine to back and forth between warehouses outside to county, he said. That's made more challenging by the requirements of having a bonded delivery service and refrigerated trucks, especially during Lake County's typically hotter summers.

So delivery could be a service added at some point, Mr. Gunier said. Up to this point, a number of wine producers have been moving cases back and forth themselves.

A barrel supply also has expressed interest in having a closer base of operations to serve Mendocino and Lake counties.

When Lake County Wine Cellar opens, targeted for the end of this year, it will feature fenced-off cubicles in the storage area and a nearly 4,000-square-foot tasting and hospitality center in an adjoining building that used to hold medical offices.

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