The crush is the biggest deadline a winery faces and they face it every year. Construction projects at wineries always seem to deadline at the crush. In the case of Brown Estate Winery, a historic building, circa 1859, the restoration and conversion to a winemaking facility had a deadline, crush 20 plus tons of Cabernet at the end of September 2002. “We always have deadlines in construction,” states Corey Cleland, Project Manager for Cary & Associates Builders, Inc., the general contractor on the Brown Estate Winery project. “This deadline was a little tight, but we made it. It’s the first crush at the winery and we had to put together a temporary crush facility because the building restoration is not complete.”
When it is complete, about two months from now, 9 of the 10 fermentation tanks that are now positioned outside will be moved upstairs in the two-story building. “LeDuc and Dexter have installed the drains and drainage piping for the upstairs, we’ll put in a light weight concrete floor for the tank room up there,” explains Cleland. Downstairs, which has cobblestone walls and will be used as a barrel room for now, will eventually become a tasting area. The walls upstairs are redwood in this old and tiny building, “The footprint for this building is only 1312 square feet, 2624 square feet for the whole structure. That’s another thing that made this a challenge, the small working space.”
For the last month Cleland and his crews have been putting in 60-hour weeks to meet the crush deadline, “It’s a real challenge, maybe that’s why I like it. Also the owners have been great to work with and that helps. The sub contractors we work with on a regular basis, like Bill Zeeb at LeDuc & Dexter, are friends of ours – we’ve built a relationship with them over time and I think that makes a difference in getting these things done on time.”
LeDuc & Dexter installed the piping, hose stations, drains and process waste system for the crush pad, which is permanently situated behind the building. They’ve made provisions for the forthcoming boiler and the air compressor, along with pressure boosting the water system. LeDuc & Dexter has also installed all of the copper piping for hot and cold water lines and compressed air. “LeDuc & Dexter have been on schedule or ahead”, reports Cleland. Speaking of schedules, the crush isn’t over for Brown Estate Winery. Next up, last but not least, Zinfandel.