Adobe Road races to open Petaluma winery
In about a year, the drive along the D Street bridge toward downtown Petaluma will look remarkably different.
Construction is in process on Adobe Road Winery’s 16,000-square-foot riverfront Winery Facility and Tasting Room, between the PG&E substation and Petaluma Yacht Club on Fourth and C streets. A demolition party held Oct. 24 celebrated the beginning of the project, as workers tore down the battered Bay Bridge Garage that formerly occupied the site.
Owner and former professional race car driver Kevin Buckler calls the forthcoming building an “entertainment complex,” an attention-grabbing description of what will be a conspicuous addition to downtown’s historic waterfront. The two-story L-shaped building will feature large bay windows, a clock tower and a patio facing the river stretching the length of the building.
“The world loves authenticity and Petaluma has that,” Buckler said. “So, we decided we wanted to build a winery here, right in downtown.”
Buckler and his wife Debra established Adobe Road Winery in 2002. The couple opened their first tasting room in Sonoma Plaza in 2010, where it remained until moving to the Great Petaluma Mill Shopping Center in Spring 2016.
The new building will welcome the winery’s second tasting room location in the city, as well as a banquet space, brick pizza oven and an in-house production area estimated to churn out about 5,000 cases of wine a year.
In a nod to his successful professional car racing career, Buckler is also including a motosports museum in the waterfront building. The museum, or motor sports gallery, will even feature a 31 degree track meant to mimic the angle of the famous Daytona International Speedway, giving wine and car enthusiasts alike a unique playground.
“There’s a big car culture out there now, just look at American Graffiti,” Buckler said, referring to the annual Petaluma event that celebrates classic American cars in a salute to the film. The motorsports museum will not be the first time Buckler marries his two successful careers. Earlier this year, Adobe Road Winery debuted a line of race car-inspired wines, each of the four representing moments on the race track with names like “Redline” and “Shift.”
Buckler famously burst into the racing world when he won the California Grand Prix in 1995 — his very first professional race. In the years since, Buckler and the team he co-founded with wife Debra Buckler, The Racers Group (TRG), have won some of the sport’s most recognizable events.
In addition to his role as Chief Executive Officer of Adobe Road Winery, Kevin Buckler continues to manage his professional racing team and motorsports business. Debra Buckler has remained Chief Financial Officer of TRG since its inception in 1993, and is also CFO of Buckler Family Vineyards and the TRG-Aston Martin Racing Group.
Kevin Buckler underscored the incoming Petaluma winery’s multi-funcitonality as an event space, museum, restaurant and tasting room. It mimics a larger trend among Sonoma County wineries to offer more than the classic wine tasting, instead emphasizing unique experiences that can’t be replicated, said Barbara Cox with Sonoma County Vintners.
Cox also pointed to the winery as yet another example of Petaluma’s status as an up-and-coming wine destination. The Petaluma Gap, a geographical region encompassing the city and surrounding areas, was designated an American Viticultural Area in December 2017. This designation recognizes the uniqueness of Petaluma soil and climate as a growing area, producing grapes with particular taste profiles, Cox said.