The Jarvis winemaking
facility is totally contained within 50,000 square feet of cave tunneled
into the scenic Vacas Mountains, east of the town of Napa. It is said
to be a visual masterpiece, and a technical masterpiece as well.
It has long been noted that due to invariant temperature and high
humidity levels, many of the finest wines come from caves. Wineries
have typically used caves just for the barrel aging of wines. They
have seldom put the entire facility in a cave, due to the fact that
typical cave tunnels are just not big enough for winery operations,
particularly the fermentation tanks. Typically, tunneling machines
produce tunnels 12 feet wide by 12 feet high. Tunneling techniques
have advanced in the past 30 years in connection with the construction
of larger tunnels for subways and other underground structures. My
geotechnic consultant, Gregg Korbin used one of the largest computers
at U.C. Berkeley to carefully model and design our large winery chambers.
As the cave extends farther into the mountain, the chambers become
larger, pushing the state of the art; one chamber is spacious enough
to comfortably contain a basketball court. The large chambers in general
allow even the tall fermentation tanks to be housed underground and
out of sight, thus preserving the unmarred beauty of the natural environment.
Certain English mining machines, which happen to be very good at turning
corners, were used to generate the very useful circular pattern of
the winery. This circular design allows for a very efficient operation,
and allows the winemaker and the lab to be no more than a few hundred
feet from the farthest aging galleries.
Many features of the cave adhere to the architectural maxim, form
follows function. For example, the stream and waterfall running through
the center of the winery function to maintain the humidity level in
the cave, accommodating the aging wines in barrels. The cascading
water also has a calming effect on all who encounter it.
The underlying principle behind the Jarvis cave construction is that
a parabolic shaped tunnel is inherently stable. Throughout the caves
design you will find many arches, subtly echoing its parabolic structure.
With the help of Jim Gangwer and many other area artisans, the cast
bronze doors, brass wall sconces, arched alcoves, and fiber optic
chandeliers, add to the mystique and beauty of the cave. All in all,
it is a unique winery cave which not only produces ultra-premium wine,
but which creates a beautiful atmosphere in which to enjoy the wine..