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Second Petaluma wine tasting room opens

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Dozens of people gathered on Tuesday to raise their glass to Petaluma’s newest wine tasting room, a venue for home-grown Adobe Road Winery to gain more face time with the public as it moves toward building a nearby hub for wining and dining on the edge of the Petaluma River.

Located at the Old Petaluma Mill on Petaluma Boulevard, the new venue is around the corner from the property at 1 C St., where Adobe Road plans to build a 15,000-square-foot production facility, events space, visitors center and restaurant. It is the second tasting room serving a wide variety of wines in the city, a place where CEO Kevin Buckler said he hoped to build more awareness of his boutique operation.

Buckler said the opening comes with the closure of Adobe Road’s former tasting room in the city of Napa.

“We’ll build a little good community support and understanding of the brand around Petaluma,” Buckler said.

With the Petaluma tasting room now up and running, Buckler said he and his investors expected to complete the purchase of the C Street property before the end of the month. The $7 million facility planned for the site would eventually house all of the operations of the winery, a 4,000-case operation that has been situated off South McDowell Boulevard since 2008.

“Everything except growing grapes will be there,” the CEO said of the new venue.

The project will also include a waterfront patio, a retractable roof and — if permitting allows — a dock for small watercraft. Buckler said he was contemplating the idea of a small boat on site that could take patrons for short cruises along the Petaluma River.

The building is also planned to include an automotive museum, a nod to Buckler’s history in auto racing and The Racer’s Group-Aston Martin Racing, a racing and trackside events company which Buckler moved from Monterey to Petaluma in 2004. The winery and racing business often play complementary roles at various events, he said.

“We have a strategic advantage like nobody else, combining the racing events with the winery,” he said.

The winery itself is one of only a handful operating in the broader Petaluma area – unlike other Sonoma County winemaking regions peppered by tasting rooms, the so-called Petaluma Gap is dominated largely by growers. Proponents are working on obtaining official recognition for the Gap as a viticultural area. Downtown Petaluma’s first wine tasting room, Barber Cellars, opened last year in the Hotel Petaluma.

Adobe Road uses grapes from both Sonoma and Napa counties, and produces 14 varieties of wine.

Buckler said his winery has around 1,000 people in its wine club. It was one of 250 wineries selected to pour at the Wine Spectator New York Wine Experience’s “Grand Tasting,” an October event he likened to the Oscars for winemakers.

“I couldn’t believe it — it would be like a Petaluma filmmaker was considered for an Academy Award,” he said.

He said he was still looking for investors to join in construction of the C Street facility, and that the project could take around one year to be completed. Since a soft launch in August of the Petaluma Mill tasting room, the wine has been speaking for itself, he said.

“I had a brand-new couple come in to do a tasting, and now they are investors in the winery — six-figure investors,” Buckler said.

(Contact Eric Gneckow at eric.gneckow@arguscourier.com. On Twitter @Eric_Reports.)

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