The warehouse where Rack & Riddle Custom Wine Services plans to open shop in Healdsburg stretched vast and empty this week as co-owners Bruce Lundquist and Rebecca Faust considered how they would lay out the space.
The custom winemaking company, currently headquartered in Hopland, has signed a 10-year lease for the 67,000-square-foot facility, and hopes to move in next spring, Lundquist said.
“You could do some skateboarding in here,” Lundquist joked about the space, which was formerly used for wine storage by Clos du Bois. “We expect to fill it up pretty rapidly.”
As a custom winemaker that expects to produce about 1 million cases of wine this year, the company is looking for additional space after back-to-back years of double-digit growth.
“We’re excited about the future,” Lundquist said. “You don’t want to grow recklessly, but you still want to grow.”
It also is taking precautions because the 100,000-square-foot facility it leases in Hopland was bought by St. Helena-based Duckhorn Wine Co., which indicated it may eventually want to use the entire space.
“Let’s face it. Duckhorn didn’t buy that facility up there because they want to be in the real estate business,” Lundquist said. “It’s a move we would have made anyway from an expansion standpoint ... We’ve been turning business down now for several years.”
In addition to the Healdsburg location, Lundquist hopes to find an additional space, perhaps 50,000 square feet, to expand its footprint by about 20 percent if it ends up leaving Hopland.
The company saw its production grow from 700,000 cases in 2011 to 850,000 in 2012, followed by more than 1 million cases this year, Lundquist said.
“I don’t think we really see bottling line demand receding,” Lundquist said. “Right now we’re bottling full blast, two shifts a day.”
In the meantime, the custom-winemaker that specializes in sparkling wine is considering whether to build separate rooms for its sparkling and still wine operations.
“You’re using different yeast cultures in each one, and some wineries don’t want the two to mix,” Lundquist said.
The Healdsburg location may help the company attract clientele, Lundquist said. With 85 to 90 percent of its clients hailing from Sonoma County, the move will add convenience for its clients.
“Being able to put Healdsburg on the back of the bottle, we think, is an attractive feature,” Lundquist said.