“Wine, cocktails, maybe just a place to enjoy a wee pint,” said general manager Kenny Rochford, surveying his long-awaited Medlock Ames Alexander Valley Store and Bar in Healdsburg.
After several months of delays thanks largely to rain, the ambitious project had finally come to life, throwing open its doors May 15. Originally planned as just a tasting room to showcase Medlock Ames’ wines, the property had snowballed into a bigger dream.
By next week, a speakeasy will debut behind the tasting room, followed by the launch of a mini farmer’s market and a small grocery, all flanked by lush organic gardens that cover nearly every inch of the two-acre property on Alexander Valley Road at Highway 128.
And woven through everything: a green theme, from the reclaimed building itself, to the recycled materials used for new construction, to the surrounding meadow planted with indigenous flora.
The green was a given. Medlock Ames wines are famously produced from sustainable, organic and biodynamic grapes. Their actual winery, near by on Chalk Hill Road, is closed to the public.
The groceries fit well – the building was a century-old retail grocery and bar that winery entrepreneurs Chris Medlock James and Ames Morison shuttered March 31, 2009. Now, the tasting room’s walls are lined with nibbles like olives, cheeses, pickles, breads and such. For heartier fare like sandwiches, folks will be directed to Jimtown Store just up the road, but Rochford plans some signature treats like homemade pie and picnic baskets.
Even the speakeasy made sense. The well-loved but rundown store had been a neighborhood fixture since the early 1900s, and when a bar was added in the 1960s, the rough, dark building became a haven for bikers and all-day imbibers.
Yet making it all fit together – that was the challenge.
In the center of the structure stands the tasting room, industrial chic with a gray metal bar and accented with recycled miner’s lanterns hanging over antique school desk seats. In the back sits the speakeasy, accessed by a hidden door and furnished with an old factory table anchored with metal swivel stools. The farmer’s market takes over where gas pumps used to park in front, brimming with the organic goodies that Medlock Ames grows at their Bell Mountain Ranch a few miles away.
But it’s really the enormous garden that brings everything into one. Besides a lovely-to-look-at salute to nature, it’s practical. The exotic onion and fennel beds will donate their bounty to the market tables. Jimmy Nardello peppers, straight from Slow Food’s Ark of Taste, will be turned into pickles and put into little jars to line the tasting room walls.
As for that perfect, delicious, country-rich cocktail? Fruit from Buddha's Hand lime trees and pineapple guava bushes will find their way into speakeasy drinks, spiked with licorice, cassis, and other fresh, edible mix-ins.
Details: Alexander Valley Store and Bar, 6487 Highway 128, Healdsburg. 707-431-8845. medlockames.com.
Tip: Keep it green! Plan your speakeasy visit as a carpool, chauffeuring your friends with Pure Luxury’s Green Ride Global™ services.