Sonoma County winemaker opens high-tech winery and upscale hospitality center in Healdsburg
The winemaker who crafted the world’s most expensive wine in a 750 ml bottle just happens to live in Sonoma County. And this boy genius –– Jesse Katz –– has big plans for opening a high tech winery next month and an upscale hospitality center in the spring of 2020.
“Production is such a focus of ours, we want to do it with all of the bells and whistles,” Katz said. “The hospitality area will be by appointment only, and we want it to be an experience, not a bar.”
There’s plenty of construction going on off Old Redwood Highway right now as the 23,000-square-foot winery and 6,500-square-foot hospitality center and patio are being built.
Katz, 35, lives on the 40 acre property and jokes: “I have a 34 step commute to work.”
The winemaker gave a tour of the grounds and said, with a laugh, that his blue-eyed Australian shepherd is a winery dog in training.
Katz said the patio of the tasting room will offer a glimpse of the winery, as well as look out over expansive rows of vines. There are 32 acres of them on the property.
“People want to see where the wine is made and where the grapes are grown,” Katz said. “People will be engulfed in vineyards while drinking wine.”
The goal, Katz said, is to make guests feel as pampered as they would be at high end restaurant.
“I worked with top chefs, including Dustin Valette, to help us plan the tasting room,” Katz said. “We’re treating it as a high-end wine experience. It will be comparable to a fine-dining experience.”
The signature label Katz produces is Aperture, a range of Bordeaux-style wines. Founded in 2009, Katz said his goal is to craft wines on par with the quality of Bordeaux. He opted for Sonoma because he believes it marries “the best of new world fruit with old world elegance.”
Pouring rare bottlings of the Aperture brand in the tasting room will be a draw, Katz said. This hospitality center has three private rooms for food and wine pairings and intimate, small groups. These rooms can also open to a larger space.
Aperture refers to the opening of a camera lens and the amount of light passing through it. It’s a nod to the winemaker’s father –– Andy Katz –– who’s a well-known photographer in Wine Country. His photographs grace the label of every bottle of Aperture.
The theme of photography is carried through in the tasting room with the centerpiece design of an Aperture lens in 3D. Natural light streams in from above, and when the Aperture is “open” there’s magic in play. Some of the walls fold in and the glass opens up, creating a large indoor/outdoor space for larger events.
Katz said the design will pique the interest of those who are fond of his brand and his line-up of wines. He’s convinced his property is uniquely suited for his specialty –– Bordeaux varietals.
“A strip of blue clay runs through the middle of the property,” he said. “Blue clay is famously found through Pomerol, (the esteemed wine region in Bordeaux, France) It encompasses the entire property of Petrus.”