Caymus Vineyards of Rutherford in Napa Valley has acquired a 178-acre parcel in Solano County, just east of Napa, with plans to build a 5 million-gallon winery and warehouse facilities. Owner Chuck Wagner said that his family company plans to continue producing Caymus Cabernets at their Rutherford property, but the new site will allow Wagner Family of Wines brands Meiomi, Mer Soleil, Conundrum and Belle Glos to expand production outside of the Napa facility. The purchase price of the property was not disclosed.
If the permit to build is approved, production will proceed in phases, starting with bottling, barrel storage and shipping, followed by winemaking, and then potentially testing the waters for tourism. Wagner also plans to plant vines and see what the property can produce.
Wagner said the move is a little bit of “push and pull.” The push comes from Napa officials, who, according to Wagner, have been getting “pushy” with producers for exceeding their production permits. He also said that traffic in the valley has grown immensely, and wineries should work together to lessen congestion and pollution.
“Creating a production facility in Solano will ease traffic and labor force, and benefit the company as well as Napa Valley,” he told Wine Spectator. “There are certain parts of the wine business that don't need to happen in Napa; the quality of our wines are inherently tied to our soil, not the other processes.”
The "pull," according to Wagner, is Solano. Despite being one of the oldest appellations in California, it is a virtually untapped viticulture region. “The climate is as maritime as Napa, and soils are similar,” he said. “One of our favorite vineyards in Napa is less than a mile away from the Solano County line.”
Wagner believes that there is potential in Solano, but it will take a few years to flesh out what works best. With Napa's best vineyard land almost entirely planted, it's a natural progression to look elsewhere for planting and producing. “Solano may be good Cabernet land, and Napa could use a little competition,” teased Wagner.