When Doug LaVelle purchased the property, the winery building was an attractive part of the bargain. Unfortunately, much of the existing equipment was not. So one of the first priorities was to replace that equipment with more technologically advanced alternatives.
Initial focus was on the crush pad, and the priority was to find gentler methods of processing fruit. It may sound strange to talk about "gentle" methods for "crushing" grapes, but the idea is to extract juice with minimal disruption to the skins, pulp, and seeds. Purchases included a bladder press to replace the existing hydraulic press, a crusher/destemmer, and a hopper with a conveyor belt to replace the existing auger style equipment. The refrigeration unit was replaced, and a digital temperature control system was installed to regulate tank settings individually. Additional tanks, pumps, and other equipment were also purchased to prepare the facility to process up to 300 tons of fruit per harvest.
Other improvements over the years have included a cover for the crush pad, a new well, new cement slabs on the crush pad and the south side of the winery, a labyrinth, a deck at the top of the vineyard, and upgrades to the service road necessary to handle commercial truck traffic. Today we can point with pride to a high quality production facility and processing capability.
Our production has been at our maximum capacity of 300 tons since 1997. Over that time, the mix of processing has shifted toward a higher percentage of our own wines as opposed to making wine for other producers, which in the industry is known as "custom crush". Today we process about 100 tons of our own fruit and have no custom crush clients.