Sunday, May 23, 2010

Woodside Vineyards' new home among the ... Ferraris?

In 1960 Bob Mullen produced a batch of home-made wine from some abandoned vines in Woodside. Further research revealed that those vines were all that remained of Emmett Rixford's award winning La Questa vineyard, planted in the 19th century. Soon after Bob purchased a property on Kings Mountain Road in Woodside, planted vineyards of his own and founded Woodside Vineyards. The winery established a great reputation for their excellent red wines, all produced from small vineyards all over Woodside.

Eventually Bob retired from winemaking and was succeeded by his business partner Brian Caselden. In 2008 Bob decided to sell his home, so the winery needed to find new premises. They partnered with Buff Giurlani and Dick Burns, owners of Auto Vino in Menlo Park, a company specialising in the storage of fine wines and rare cars. Now after almost half a century on Kings Mountain Road, Woodside Vineyards has finally completed their move.

The new facility is at 205 Constitution Drive, just off 84 between Marsh and Willow, close to the Dumbarton Bridge. From the outside there are no signs that it's anything other than another business unit, but drive to the rear and you'll see the tell-tale discarded barrels.

Inside there's a mixture of high-tech and history. The main showroom is home to a dozen or so pristine vehicles from former race cars to classic Ferraris. Alongside them are winery relics including a century old corker, the hand crusher that Bob used until the mid 1970s, and Duane Cronin's old basket press. At one side there's an honour bar where club members can buy wine at any time, while at the other side there's a tasting area made from old champagne riddling racks propped up on barrels. Behind that through a window you can see the wine barrels stacked 5 high. In addition to guarding these pieces of automotive history AutoVino also rents out temperature controlled wine storage lockers (a 27 case unit costs $54 per month, if you were wondering).

The new facility will allow Brian and Bob to gradually increase production from the current 2,000 cases to a target of around 3,500 cases. The Woodside Vineyards wines will continue to be made only with estate grapes from the Woodside area, but there are plans to eventually introduce a second label made with fruit sourced from elsewhere in the Santa Cruz Mountains. There is also space for future expansion including a catering option.

Brian is currently preparing for the official relaunch, on Memorial day weekend. The winery will be open from 1-5PM on May 29th, 30th and 31st as well as on Sunday June 6th. Additionally the winery will open for the Vintners Festival on June 12th and 13th from 11AM-5PM the following weekend.