By Tim Hunt
Intriguing plans for the Beyer Ranch in Livermore wine countryUploaded: Jun 2, 2016
Pleasanton vintner and commercial property owner Mike Callahan has been working for three years to give the growing Livermore Valley wine industry a major shot in the arm.
Callahan initially made his money with light industrial buildings near the Livermore Airport. He then saw the opportunity in event venues and built the Rubino winery and the Palm Event Center on Vineyard Avenue on the northwest edge of the Ruby Hill Country Club. He followed that up with the Ruby Hill Winery and the Casa Real event center at the corner of Vineyard and Isabel Avenue. Those event centers have been home runs.
Now in partnership with Wente Vineyards, which sold him the land for the event centers, he is working on an ambitious plan for the remainder of the Beyer Ranch parcel that fronts on Tesla Road and is bounded by Greenville on the east.
The Wente family bought Beyer Ranch back in 1979 when they decided they would continue to farm in the Livermore Valley instead of shifting operations to land the family had bought decades before in the Arroyo Seco area of Monterey County. Wente’s Riva Ranch Chardonnay and their Pinot Noir are grown on that site (incidentally, while shopping in Safeway last week, the wine steward observed that the Riva Ranch Chardonnay is the No. 1 selling wine in the Bernal Avenue store).
The Wente family developed the Crane Ridge vineyard estates from 1990-1992 on half of the property, selling 10 20-acre vineyard parcels with one-acre home sites. Those sites spawned the Wood Family Winery as well as the Darcie Kent Vineyards. Signature Properties followed Wente’s example with its vineyard home sites around the Ruby Hill Country Club.
Callahan’s latest venture will include six 20-acre vineyard estate parcels on the south-side of the property with a series of wine-related commercial properties fronting Telsa Road. He expects about 220 acres of grapes to be planted.
The commercial aspects will include a custom crush facility that can do everything from crushing grapes to bottling and storing wine. It will be a much larger facility than what is currently available.
Perhaps more interesting is the industry incubator that will be turn-key for fledging winegrowers or winemakers. Callahan correctly observes that folks who are retiring from the day jobs with plenty of money and an interest in wine country are unlikely to want to endure three to five years of getting permits, tending wines and waiting for a harvest. He will have all of those areas taken care of so interested people can get on with winery operations.
Callahan will own the buildings and then lease the space in the incubator.
During the past three years, he has been working with state and county health departments as well as Zone 7 to figure out how to appropriately handle winery operations with varying degrees of waste water (ranging from washing out barrels and equipment to sewage). He has been working diligently with the various agencies and was excited that they have finally agreed on the path forward.
He hopes to line up the necessary permits for onsite treatment (likely the wave of the future for rural areas) within the next few months.