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May 19, 2010
Wineries in the Strangest Places!

When it comes to wineries, one might expect them to be in certain places. In a valley, atop a hill, mid-slope, maybe even along the road to facilitate transport to and from winery. This would include most wineries, but there are a few that are quite unique and we want to showcase those today.

L’Ecole No 41. Here’s a super one. Built in an old schoolhouse from 1915, the schoolhouse is located in historic Frenchtown, a small community just west of Walla Walla, Washington. Frenchtown derived its name from the many French-Canadians who settled the valley  during  the  early  1800s.  Legend  has  it,
these men of French descent were raising grapes and producing wine. By the 1860s, nurseries, vineyards and winemaking had become a part of the regions' growing economy. The name - L'Ecole Nº 41 which is French for "the school" located in district number 41 - was chosen to salute these pioneer viticulture efforts.

Airfield Estates was an airplane hanger, which was built just prior to the United States entry into World War II. The Olympic Air Transport Company contacted their founder, H. Lloyd Miller, about the possibility of leasing land from him for a period of a few years in order to build an airbase to train military pilots. Lloyd, a successful realtor and landowner, knew it would be several years before the arrival of Roza irrigation water so he agreed to lease out his property.

Construction of the airbase commenced in the latter part of 1941. The buildings erected on the site included a 70-foot water tower, several airplane hangers, a mess hall, barracks, and several smaller storage buildings. Three dirt runways were also formed, each of which was over a half mile long. The pilots trained primarily on bi-winged Stearman Airplanes.

Airfield Estates now resides in an airplane hangar replica, since where the original
hangar once was, the vineyards are now. From great men to great grapes!

Caves make up some of the wineries as well. Caves are great for temperature and humidity consistency. Here are just a couple. Robert Sinskey (left), with an older style wine cave. This one has rustic appeal.

On the high-tech end is Jarvis (bottom left), which is a 45,000 square foot cave tunneled atop Monticello Road in the Vacas Mountains, which encompasses all wine-making aspects below ground - a first. The most interesting component here is there is an actual waterfall and creek that runs through it!

One cannot undervalue the cave as the most logical of wine storage places. The underground wine caves have been used for centuries in Europe, as through hot and cold weather, temperature and humidity deviations are minimal, allowing the perfect environment for aging.

The Champagne region of France (Pommery on the right), with its many underground caves and walls ornately decorated, is proof that this is a truly viable wine and Champagne aging strategy. A votre santé!


Brixage, 26238 Enterprise Court, Lake Forest, CA 92630

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