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The Madera Tribune

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Winery amid latest growth spurt

December 15, 2018

John Rieping/The Madera Tribune
From left, Quady Winery controller Doug Dennis, marketing manager Colin Hough, and winemaker Darin Peterson stand in a warehouse built in 1983 and designed by San Francisco architect Stanley Saitowitz and winery founder Andrew Quady.

On April 14, 1984, Quady Winery officially broke ground on phase one of its new facility designed by San Francisco architect Stanley Saitowitz and vintner Andrew Quady.


According to the Madera Tribune, the new building would allow the family winery to bottle its wines year-round, instead of only in winter and spring, thus tripling output. But it was just the first of several phases planned, and the design of Quady and Saitowitz wouldn’t be fully realized until 1998.


Now the winery is more than halfway through a new series of expansions that may be complete as early as 2021.


“We’re in year three of a five-year expansion project where we’re growing the winery from roughly 70,000 cases to 160,000 cases” of annual production, said Doug Dennis, controller of the winery.


“We were about 110 (thousand) last year,” explained marketing manager Colin Hough. “We did about 130 (thousand) this year.”


“And even more next year,” predicted winemaker Darin Peterson, who said 85-90 percent of the grapes used in the wines are Madera grown, though some grapes come from as far away as Manteca.


“Obviously Darin has his work cut out for him making the wine, finding the grapes, and maintaining the rigorous standards that we have,” said Hough about the rapid growth. “And that’s of utmost importance to us.”


This year, the winery finished building a 22,000-square-foot warehouse. Rather than emphasize “visual impact” as with the winery’s earliest expansion, the trend now is using technology “to make a huge impact on how productive the business is,” Dennis said.


To beat the heat, the new warehouse is covered in 500 white panels that are each four inches thick, and beside it sits a “heat exchanger” with about 28 times the cooling capacity of a typical home air conditioner, as estimated by the U.S. Department of Energy.


Part of the warehouse holds 350,000 gallons of moscato wine in towering metal tanks, and is cold enough to develop indoor fog on rainy days. “You could not see the ceiling it was that foggy,” said Dennis. “I’m not exaggerating.”


The tanks are individually temperature controlled.


“The whole goal is to keep stuff stable, chilled and under control” for slow fermentation, said Peterson. “The consequence of that is this whole thing draws down” temperatures inside and outside the tanks, “and eventually the chilling power of the (ammonia) glycol (cooling) system will keep the rest of the building cool as well.”


The winery may add three more wine tanks in the next few years, resulting in about 360,000 more gallons in capacity.


“The (180,000 gallon) tank we’re putting outside is basically 32 feet in diameter by 35 feet tall,” said Dennis. “It will dwarf these” indoor tanks. “As soon as the weather breaks and we get a few dry days, we’ll start on the foundation. It will probably be serviceable in a March-April time frame.”


Not yet finished, the warehouse will eventually feature five offices, a laboratory, a cafe-like break room, a conference room, restrooms, and an observation deck.


The Quady family has tried to make its latest expansions “green,” according to Dennis. The LED lighting of the warehouse only consumes about 500 watts, he said, and office area sensors will adjust light intensity based on “whether someone is in the room, how bright it is outside,” etc. Photovoltaic solar cells able to generate 300 kilovolts sit on winery buildings to help power the facilities. In the future, a Tesla Powerwall to store energy may be added, which would allow the winery to be more electrically self-sufficient.


All the recent expansions are, of course, not without cost.


“It’s a pretty big, seven-digit investment,” Dennis said. “I think this building, when it’s completed with the tanks, will be $3.5” to $4 billion.


Dennis said they’re looking forward to putting the current expansions behind them and enjoying the benefits.


“A project of this scope is not for the faint of heart ... It’s a dance that you really have to do,” he said, “and it has to be well orchestrated and coordinated, especially to do it in a timely fashion as we’re finding out three years into the expansion project.”

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