USA: Russian River Brewing to sell brewery in Santa Rosa, California

Russian River Brewing Co. has announced to sell its original 14,000 barrels (16,400 hl) Santa Rosa/CA production facility in anticipation of the brewery's new commercial facility opening in fall 2018 just eight miles away in nearby Windsor.

The new $40 million brewery, which broke ground in early May with construction beginning in late summer, will able to produce about 35,000 barrels (41,000 hl) at the start, which is nearly three-times the current capacity. ”We are comfortable taking it to 50,000 [barrels] (58,700 hl),” says co-owner and President Natalie Cilurzo, who is also wife of brewmaster and other co-owner Vinnie Cilurzo. But she also adds that the focus is not on quantity but on quality.

The reasoning behind the new Windsor facility is not only the higher production capacity. The 15-acre (60,700 square meters) site will also dispose of other amenities like a 180-seat brewpub with year-round patio seating and a large outdoor area, a tasting room for 8-10 of the most popular beers with the possibility to fill growlers, a gift shop and an elevated walkway for self-guided tours. About one third of the site will remain a wetland preserve.

Russian River’s new facility will add to a burgeoning spirits district on the west side of Windsor that includes a cider maker, distillery, brewpub, several wineries and tasting rooms.

In 2016, the company made 17,000 barrels (20,000 hl) in two breweries, 3,000 barrels (3,500 hl) in its brewpub in downtown Santo Rosa and 14,000 barrels (16,400 hl) in the brewery, which is now up for sale. The latter was originally equipped with used equipment from Dogfish Head Brewery out of Delaware. In 2015, the brewery installed a brand-new new four-vessel, 50-barrel (59 hl) brew house.

 “There’s absolutely no way to run three [breweries],” says Natalie Cilurzo. "We are looking for a quality-focused brewer interested in expanding their operations in a turnkey brewing facility known for making pretty good beer," she adds. The couple intends to stay with the brewpub in downtown Santa Rosa, which sells about half of the overall production. The remainder is sold throughout California and “a tiny amount” in Oregon, Colorado and Pennsylvania.

The new owner could move in by late 2018 or early 2019. Several local brewers are said to be interested in the production facility but interested parties are bound by a non-disclosure agreement and no price tag is officially known.

Russian River is the most famous of more than 25 breweries in Sonoma County, a region which is best known for its wines. The brewery was founded in 1997 by Korbel Champagne Cellars and sold in 2002 to its brewer Vinnie Cilurzo and his wife Natalie Cilurzo.

The brewery is known for its strong India pale ales and sour beers. Most famous is the brand Pliny the Elder, a American Double / Imperial IPA style beer and its cult-favorite, annually released sibling Pliny the Younger.

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