A few years ago we were invited to spend a few days at the Gloria Ferrer Champagne Caves in Sonoma. How lucky can a couple of girls get? What we didn’t realize at the time was that we’d be sipping bubbly in real caves!
We were escorted down into the chilly and dimly lit caverns where we were surrounded by hundreds of barrels of their aging wines. It was a new experience for us at the time, but storing wine in underground caves has been a practice for thousands of years.
Caves provide both high humidity and cool temperatures – key to the storage and aging of wine. Romans stored their wine in conveniently located catacombs. All of Europe was dotted with caves.
Here at home, the first wine caves were dug by Chinese laborers in the 1800s in the Sonoma region. And many are still functional today. While they’re still used for aging and storing wines (Caves at Beringer and Schramsberg can store up to 2.7 million bottles of wine.), they’ve become quite the tourist attractions.
In fact, caves are a popular marketing tool for wineries. They draw crowds who want to eat there, drink there and get married there. And with some of the newly constructed ones up to 100,000 square feet, why not? So much competition among wineries has developed that a new phrase was born: “wine cave envy.”
Barbara and Beverly