|Location:||Monticello Road east of Napa.|
All year weekdays after appointment only.
|Dimension:||Ar=2,136m², T=16°C, H=80%.|
|Address:||Staglin Family Vineyard, 1570 Bella Oaks Lane, P.O. Box 680, Rutherford, CA 94573, Tel: +1-707-944-0477. E-mail:|
|As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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|1985||Garen and Shari Staglin buy the Rutherford Bench vineyards.|
|1989||apply for a permit to build a winery building turned down due to objections from neighbors.|
|1992||the legendary André Tschelistcheff had the idea to build the winery in a cave.|
|MAY-2002||underground winery completed.|
The winery caves of the Staglin Family Vineyard are located underneath forested land and contain not only the wine cave, but also the winery. The cave is designed to be environment friendly, as it does not need energy for cooling, energy for the light and the wine making process is produced by solar cells. The whole cellar has a size of 2,136m², the winery has a diameter of 10m and a height of 7m. It was constructed by Magorian Mine Services, a company specialized in tunneling from Auburn.
It seems there were two reasons to go underground. Cellars use the low and constant temperatures inside the rock since centuries for storing wine, beer and food. But the winere was also built underground, because the neighbours were objecting. So the whole winery, including destemmer, crusher, press, fermenting tanks for red wines and storage and blending tanks, was built underground.
It seem several aspects of the cave were extraordinary. The size was bigger than any cave dug before and so the Staglins had to hire a geological engineer. They had to order special rectangular tanks to fit through the doors. The estimated price per square metre was strongly overspend, because the Staglins changed their mind during construction and moved the parts of the winery which were planned to stay on the surface also underground. This were crushing tanks and the offices.
While the temperature and humidity inside the cave are fine for aging wine, the carbon dioxide produced during tank and barrel fermentation are a problem. The cave was equipped with special ventilation and bright light using halogen and mercury vapor lamps. The ventilation is also used to controll the temperature in various parts of the cave by sucking outside air computer controlled into the cellar. The far end of the cellar is cooled down to 13°C to allow the chardonnay longer barrel aging, the front area where people are working is kept warmer.
The final conclusion is astonishing: the cave was cheaper than a surface building would have been, the costs of utilities are lower, the environment was protected, the landscape is not mutilated, and the cave is an attraction which make the winery better known.