Napa County assists Ironstone in bottling process

Sean Janssen, The Union Democrat /

Some Ironstone wines are now being bottled in Napa County as part of a deal signed with Sonoma Wine Co. late last year.

Ironstone owner John Kautz said Monday that the deal is the reason behind several large tanks being removed from the Ironstone Vineyards property on Six Mile Road in Murphys about a month ago.

Kautz said the tanks' removal or the sour grapes mutterings of disgruntled employees are the only reasons he can think of behind rumors the winery may be closing.

"There's no way. We're not even thinking about it. Not even a possibility," Kautz said. "We don't want that kind of thing spreading around because it's completely untrue. Not when we have a great concert series coming up like we do."

Sonoma Wine, in its seventh year of business, is bottling Kautz

Vineyards Inc.'s Ironstone and Leaping Horse brands at its facility in

American Canyon.

The decision to move to Sonoma Wine Co. presents Ironstone with an

opportunity to achieve significant cost savings through improved supply

chain management in the form of reduced transportation, warehousing and

bottling costs, officials from the winery said. Trucking grapes and

glass bottles up to Murphys from the Central Valley has proven costly

and inefficient, Kautz said.

"We spent better than a year researching and investigating this

decision and came to the conclusion that the Sonoma Wine Company offers

the highest level of service, quality and professionalism ... qualities

which we associate with our brands," said Kautz executive Richard

Conley.

Ironstone spokesman Conrad Levasseur said he has heard the closure

rumors and has been asked by visitors about the tanks' removal.

Levasseur said Ironstone has not been immune from the economic slump of

recent years and operated with a leaner crew than usual through the

winter. However, employment and business are picking back up with the

spring and summer tourism season, he said.

Ironstone Reserve label wines continue to be produced at the

Murphys estate as the grapes for those wines are grown on the property.

"The reserves are hand-picked right here," Levasseur said. "It just makes sense."

Kautz Vineyards Inc. produces and sells nearly a half-million cases

of wine annually and is one of the top 10 winegrape growers and

family-owned and operated wineries in the United States.

Since its inception in 2003, Sonoma Wine Co. has grown to include

six facilities Located throughout Sonoma and Napa counties.

Contact Sean Janssen at sjanssen@uniondemocrat.com or 890-7741.

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