If there’s anything that Marcus Partin has learned about himself during the dreaming, planning and developing phases of the yet-to-be-built Shasta Wine Village, three miles north of Redding, it’s that he can keep a secret when he has to.
Partin recently shared details of his Shasta Wine Village plan with anewscafe.com. (Click here for my Q&A conversation with Marcus Partin.)
But before that, for about two years, the Shasta Wine Village idea – the very project that most enthused and consumned him – was precisely the very thing he couldn’t breathe a word about, except with his most trusted partners and staff.
Now that the Shasta Wine Village genie is out of the proverbial bottle, Partin describes his vision with such clarity and detail that it seems he’s speaking in the present tense, rather than about a 10-acre chunk of land that’s currently a vast blank spot along Interstate 5, still awaiting final county planning approval.
That’s why, where you or I might see three parcels’ worth of dirt and weeds, Partin – who’s been developing land for others’ investment projects in the Redding area for about a dozen years, and who made the North State his home in 2007 – sees a successful wine-themed destination for tourists and locals alike.
The reason for his confidence: He sees that spot, between Shasta Lake City and Redding, as a bull’s eye of a prime central location, ripe for a wine village.
He also sees community pride in being able to take guests to the Shasta Wine Village, an artfully designed place oriented with mountain views and water features. He sees restaurants that range from the most casual, dress-down bakery-and-deli to upscale sophisticated dining establishments – all located on one site.
He sees designated events areas for cultural and community gatherings, and picnic areas, and plenty of parking and room for RV’s and boats and even for people with pets. He sees private and semi-private patios, and four large buildings that feature a variety of interior spaces with fireplaces and local artwork. Outside he sees demonstration vineyards, which bow to the real stars of the show, 15 to 18 representative North State wineries. Those wineries will be located within the Wine Village spaces that will vary in size, but each of which will feature tasting rooms, wine storage and retail spaces.
The Shasta Wine Village’s managing partner is Western Resource Partners, Inc./ MyLand.US, which Partin owns. No wonder, despite Partin’s last name, when it comes talking about the Shasta Wine Village – he’s not just part in, he’s all in. And no wonder, for Partin, it’s not if the Shasta Wine Village will be built, or if it will succeed – but in both cases, it’s when.
(Other key players in the Shasta Wine Village venture include the engineering company Sharrah, Dunlap and Sawyer, Inc , the Shasta Cascade Viticulture Association, the law firm Weintraub Genshlea Chediak Tobin & Tobin, and Redding architect Terry Topolski of Pacific Edge Architecture.)
Granted, one might say that Partin has grape expectations. Big ones. Furthermore, as the owner of the Shasta Wine Village property in question, he’s literally banking upon the Wine Village’s success.
As an aside, in addition to owning Western Resource Partners, Inc./ MyLand.US, he also owns its real estate brokerage affiliate, Realty Services Group, Inc. in California and Oregon. Partin said he currently has four major projects in the Redding area, but declined comment at this time on all except the Shasta Wine Village, which is a major priority for him.
Ask Partin why build the Shasta Wine Village here, and why now – especially during the economic downturn – and without a blink, he asks why not.
“You have to look at what this region draws,” he said. “It’s tourism-based. And that will help support the tax base. The demand is here now, the market is here now, and financing is low now. It’s the right location and the right wineries. Will it work in this market? I think it’s going to be great.”
When he talks about North State wines, that leads him to discuss the Napa Valley region, about 30 miles long and 5 miles wide, renowned for its many windy, narrow roads. He can’t help but compare Napa Valley’s 30-mile compact stretch of wineries to the North State’s approximately 186-mile expansive wine region. Also, he believes that because of the concentrated nature of the Napa Valley area, the very tourists that the Napa Valley wineries dearly rely upon, are also the same people whose sheer numbers – via car, truck, bike, tour bus, train and limo – interfere with the day-in-day-out business of making and growing wine.
With a Wine Village, said Partin, the wines come to the consumers at a one-stop tasting, shopping, eating location.
“One question most asked is if we really think there are enough wineries in this area to justify a Wine Village,” Partin said. “The answer is yes. We know that there are some grapes and juice sent from some of our wineries to Napa Valley.”
He has plenty of believers, such as Greg Butler, president of the Shasta Cascade Viticulture Association, with about 160 members who represent 38 wineries throughout Butte, Tehama, Shasta, Siskiyou, and Trinity counties. Butler said the association anaticipates gaining at least four additional wineries in the the coming year.
Butler said that he and his fellow SCVA members make wine, own vineyards/wineries, and/or are wine enthusiasts. He said the non-profit SCVA’s overall purpose is to promote North State wines and grapes, while its primary goal is to become educated about how to grow better grapes and make better wine.
For a number of reasons, the Shasta Wine Village seemed an obvious partner, starting with the purely agricultural and wine-making connections. So when Partin approached Butler early on in the idea stage about becoming involved in the envisioned Shasta Wine Village, Butler said he was pleased to accept and lend a hand in promoting support for the Wine Village concept as an obvious boon to local grapes.
“I feel our region has proven itself as capable of growing and producing world class, premium wines, comparable to the best the state offers,” he said. “This is supported time and again by the awards our wineries earn in major wine competitions. In 2010, our member wineries earned, I believe, 67 medals in national and international wine judging – Gold, Silver, Bronze, and even Best of Show. All of our members’ wineries are family-owned and by California standards, boutique wineries. Our region has myriad micro climates and soil types to produce world-class wines of rare and almost unknown varietials because somewhere in our valleys and slopes they adapt and grow well. And we also have reliable macro climate conditions to support popular California varieties such as Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Petite Syrah, Syrah, Sangiovese, Pinot Noir, Riesling … etc.”
Mimi and Marty Moseley, of Moseley Family Cellars in Redding, are also on board with the Shasta Wine Village project. Mimi Moseley said that she and husband Marty are excited about the development for many reasons, the foremost being that they believe it will be a catalyst to pulling more revenue-producing business into the Redding area.
“Once we get travelers to stop, we have the opportunity to speak about Redding to our visitors as we encourage them to stay over,” she said. Plus, those wine-loving visitors might venture into Redding to sample its restaurants and other wine-related businesses.
“Marty and I strongly believe Shasta Wine Village will be a draw to those who previously just filled the gas tank and kept driving,” Mimi Moseley said. ” This pull will show the top-quality wines offered in our area, as well as the beauty and activities Redding has to offer.”
That holds much appeal to Mark Lascelles, President of the Economic Development Corporation of Shasta County. He gives the project a thumbs up for two reasons.
First, said Lascelles, on a purely distribution-based level, the Shasta Wine Village will provide greater opportunities via traffic exposure along Interstate 5 for for local wine-makers and growers to have access to a much larger market.
“Framed by a sophisticated wine-tasting facility, this will create a great new image for our local wine industry,” Lascelles said.
“Wine-tasting, from a business perspective, has one objective – not to introduce a new wine and sell a couple of bottles – but to develop a new prospect who will become an ongoing client through monthly purchases. The ambiance of this facility will go a long way to creating that business experience. This is a very effective and profitable direct marketing opportunity for wine producers.”
The second economic benefit, said Lascelles, is that the Wine Village has the the potential of being a regional draw.
“On a local level I think this will be a destination spot for local wine buffs looking for entertainment, as we have seen at Anselmo Vineyards,” Lascelles said.
That returns the conversation to the local wineries, because without them, the wine village would simply be a retail outlet supplied by distant wine-producers.
That local supply, combined with the ideal location, will provide wide-spread demand, said Butler, the viticulture association president.
“I feel the I-5 corridor has potential to bring much more recognition to local wines, and a wine village will be a magnet to ‘thirsty’ travelers; there is nothing comparable along the length of I-5,” Butler said.
“This Wine Village has the potential to become a destination, if you will. The bold and innovative approach by Marcus Partin and his partnership will be a great boost to local wine production and increase recognition for this area as a true gem in wine making circles. What is not to support?”
But first, the Shasta Wine Village must be built.
According to Partin, optimistic engineers have told him that considering the available construction labor pool, it might be possible to have the Wine Village completed in as soon as one year.
For Partin, the biggest difference between the next year and the last two years may be that this time around, he can talk about the Shasta Wine Village it to his heart’s content.
And you can bet he will.
After all the research, and traveling to check out the ‘best of the best’ wine villages in the country, and even taking an extra hard look at those that serve more as cautionary tales than role models, he’s fully educated himself about the full measure of wine village do’s and don’ts, in’s and out’s.
With that, Partin can now imagine that perhaps, the most difficult aspects of the Shasta Wine Village project may finally be behind him.
“I think we’ve already had something like 17 final plan revisions,” Partin said with a laugh.
“The really fun part will be what we’ve geared up for: Success from Day One.”
Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded what’s now known as anewscafe.com in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke of the Czech Republic. Prior to 2007 Chamberlain was an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She lives in Redding, CA.