Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Repurposed Buildings Become Wineries

Wineries are growing throughout the United States.  Although many opt to build new facilities, there are some that find an interesting location and craft their image around it.  Today we’ll take a look at just a few.

An Arkansas winery located in a movie theatre –
(What a show!)
Movie House Winery - Morrilton, Arkansas
The Petit Jean Movie Theatre operated from the 1940’s through the 50’s.  The movie theatre had only one screen and 400 seats. 

Ken and Sherrie Sowers decided the old movie theatre in downtown Morrilton would make a great winery.  They began restoration and opened the Movie House Winery in 2011.

Movie House Winery makes handcrafted wines in small batches and teaches classes for customers to learn how to make their own favorite wines.  The winery also sells home winemaking supplies.

Wines available include Cabernet, Merlot, Tempranillo Malbec, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, a red and a white Muscadine, plus a Raspberry and a Strawberry Zin, Grencache Rose’, and other grape-fruit blends.  There is a fee for wine tasting that is waived with a two-bottle purchase.

Movie House Winery is open Monday through Saturday.  For more information, visit

A California winery on the National Register of Historic Places

Beringer - St Helena, California

Founded in 1875, Beringer is the oldest winery in Napa Valley.  Winery construction began next to a hill in 1876, and the building was used for the 1877 harvest.  After the grapes had finished fermenting, the juice was pulled down to the ground floor by gravity.  The Beringer brothers had learned how to use gravity flow method in their native Rhine Valley in Germany. Caves were also dug into the winery hillside for caves and tunnels.  This helped keep the wines stored in the wine caves and tunnels a consistent 58 to 60 degrees.


Beringer was the first winery in California to offer public tours after the repeal of Prohibition.  The winery remained in the Beringer family until 1971 when it, and the family name, was sold to Nestle.  Foster’s Group of Australia owned the company from 2000 to 2011.  Last year Foster’s Wine Group was split into a separate company known as Treasury Wine Estates.


Beringer offers five collections of wines to choose from.  The Private Reserve program has been offered since 1977 and features the Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.  The Modern Heritage collection features classic Napa varietals.  The Knights Valley wines include Cabernet, Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon.  They are grown in Sonoma’s Knights Valley vineyard.  The Napa Valley wines are grown in the Napa Valley vineyards.  The California Collection offers a variety of wines considered light and refreshing.


Beringer is located on Main Street in St. Helena, California.  The tasting room is open daily and tours are given.  There is a tasting fee, or you may select to pay for a tour that includes some tasting.  For more information, visit

A Missouri winery located above (and using) a Cave -
(Spelunking for wine!)
Cave Vineyard - Ste. Genevieve, Mo.
Located in southeastern Missouri near Ste. Genevieve, Cave Vineyard got its name from the saltpeter cave located on the property.

Salt Peter Cave just seemed the perfect place to build a winery on top of.    In 1995, Marty and Mary Jo Strussion purchased the property and decided to plant a vineyard and eventually open a winery.  The vineyard now has more than 14 acres of grapes.

The tasting room is located on top of the natural saltpeter cave.  Little is known about the cave except that the name came from early French settlers in the area.  It is believed that it was mined for saltpeter, which was used to make gunpowder. Customers can tour the cave and enjoy a glass of wine in the natural wine cellar.

The Cave Vineyard grows four varieties of grapes from which it makes wine: Chardonel, Traminette, Chambourcin and Cynthiana/Norton.  I could find no mention of a tasting fee on their web site.

Cave Vineyard is located 70 miles south of St Louis.  The winery is open daily.  For more information, visit

An Ohio winery located in a Church –
("Eat the bread with joy and drink the wine with a merry heart."
Ecclesiastes 9)
South River Vineyard – Geneva, Ohio
Located near Geneva, Ohio is a winery known to many as the "church winery." Housed in a century old church building that originally sat in another Ohio town.

In 2002, Gene Sigel noticed an abandoned Methodist Episcopal Church in nearby Shalersville.  When he asked for permission to photograph, he was told that he could have the church if he would dismantle and move it.  A week later, Sigel was making plans to move the church.  The winery maintained the original church pews, stained glass windows, flooring and interior door.

South River Winery offers wine tasting for a fee.  Varietals wines include Pinot Noir, Syrah, Chardonnay, Dry Riesling, Riesling Reserve, Pinot Grigio and Semillon. Other wines are Exodus, Karma, Trinity, Creation, Temptation and Ice wines.

South River Winery is located just 50 miles east of Cleveland and 20 minutes from Geneva-on-the Lake. The winery is open seven days a week.  Visit for more information.

An Oklahoma winery located in a School –
(Time to do some homework on wine!)
Tidal School Vineyards - Drumright, Oklahoma
Tidal School was built in the 1920's, during Oklahoma's original oil boom.  Constructed by John D. Rockefeller’s oil company, it was built in the Federal Style and used to teach the children of Rockefeller’s local employees.

Tidal School Vineyards and Winery owners spent half a million dollars to renovate and restore the 8,000 sq. ft. historic school building.  The winery opened in April of 2004.

The winery is open Thursday through Sunday, and offers free tastings and tours.  Wines include Cabernet, Merlot, Sangiovese, Chardonnay, White Zin, Oklahoma Sunset, Oklahoma Gold, Oklahoma Sweet, and Impressao.

Tidal School Vineyards and Winery is located two miles south of Drumright and is only a short drive off Route 66.  Events are held.  Visit for more information.

A Wisconsin winery located in a Mill
(Wild and Wooly!)
Cedar Creek Winery – Cedarburg, Wisconsin
The building began as a woolen mill in the 1860’s.  A 50-pound water wheel generated electricity to run the mill’s twenty-one looms and knitting machines.

In 1972, the mill was purchased by the Pape Family and became the Newberry Winery.  Later the name was changed to Stone Mill Winery.  During the 70’s, the winery was known for its cherry wines.

In 1990, the winery was purchased by the Wollersheim family and was renamed Cedar Creek Winery.  Winemaking began to focus on traditional grape wines that are fermented and aged in the underground limestone cellars.  Wines available include Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Foch, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Riesling, Vidal, Rose’ and a few fruit blends.
Wine tasting is complimentary except during certain festivals.  Wine tours are offered for a fee.

Cedar Creek Winery is located about 20 miles north of Milwaukee in Cedar Creek, Wisconsin. The winery is open 7 days a week.  For more information, visit

Now, go out this weekend and see what interesting wineries you can discover, and let me know what treasures you find!  Enjoy!

~ Joy