for 2004 in Food, Art, & Wine
San Francisco’s Wine Country at Mission and 3rd
Grande Wine Gallery
By Mary Swift-Swan
San Francisco’s first downtown wine
tasting showcase may look like a small, quaint shop from the outside, but
inside the front door, across stone tiles and past a plasma screen showing
highlights of their four resort locations, is a very long wall of wine.
The strong scent of the wine tasting room hits you immediately, and the
stress of being in a city is gone in an instant. The sheer size of the
main room is just one of the surprises in the two-level, 5,000-square-foot
facility. In addition to the wall of wine, wine tasting stations, and
tables, there is a vintners’ retail shop. The beautiful facility is
designed to gracefully handle large meetings and events, both on the
ground level and downstairs. The main room downstairs is completed, but
two smaller rooms are being finished for more intimate gatherings. The
lighting was designed to display artwork.
Diablo Grande Winery is located at 10001
Flat Oak Road in Patterson, in the hills of the I-5 corridor, 90 minutes
southeast of San Francisco. This new California winery was nurtured and
developed by Fran and Kathy Lightly. They both returned to school after
selling their catering and event planning business. Fran has been
interested in growing wines for many years, so he entered the vintner
program at CSU Fresno in 1993, adding to his degree in chemistry. Because
of his excellent work and maturity, he was invited to join a special
project working with a Georgia vintner to graft vines and produce wines in
Central Valley test soils. Kathy’s courses focused on the business side
of running a winery. Upon Fran’s graduation, they were both asked to
join the same Georgia wine producer by starting the Diablo Grande Winery.
Kathy is now often present at the wine gallery in San Francisco,
representing their winery and the parent company, Chateau Élan Winery and
Resort of Braselton, Georgia. Fran tends to the vines and the general
running of the winery, but usually joins Kathy and staff at the San
Francisco shop on the weekends.
Chateau Élan Winery Resort is located
just 40 minutes north of Atlanta. The elegant resort hosts visitors in
over 300 rooms, suites, and villas; serves guests from eight restaurants;
features two indoor and two outdoors pools, four world-class golf courses;
an Equestrian Show Center, with trails and rentals; lighted tennis courts;
a full-service European Spa, fitness center, nature, hiking and jogging
trails; full volleyball and half basketball courts; a children’s
playground; plus wine tasting and tours of the winery.
the successful models of the other three facilities, the grounds of Diablo
Grande originally included 30,000 acres of property in the ridge country
of the Central Valley. Diablo Grande Winery now has two vineyard sites.
The original 1.5-acre test site next to the main golf course has been
expanded to 20 acres. In 1998, they added 40 acres at a site previously
owned by the Isom family, and now called Isom Ranch Winery, where the
second golf course is located. "These vines produce nine Diablo
Grande varietals and seven Isom Ranch varietals. Each location has
different soil and climate characteristics, which they lend to each
wine," Fran said. "I’ve concentrated on wines that are
drinkable when young but that age well. The region is low in tannin, which
makes for enjoyable wine upon release." It is obviously working, as
they won double golds at a San Francisco competition for their first
release of the 2000 Merlot. Their two Chardonnay wines have both won
medals and proved to be quite popular. One is light and fruity and the
other has an oaky flavor with butterscotch characteristics. Their 15 wines
range in price from $13-$29 a bottle; a limited bottling of a special
blend called Deep Purple by Chateau Élan’s owner costs $40.
Grande Resort currently has two golf courses that have already been voted
among the top golf courses in the USA by Golf Digest and Golf
Today. Chateau Élan’s owner purchased the largest home in the area
to begin the development of the Diablo Grande Winery and Resort. The
former home’s immaculate six-car garage became the golf pro shop and the
commercial refrigerator, stove, and ovens in the huge kitchen were adapted
beautifully into the Clubhouse Grille Restaurant.
in 2004, and ending in September 2005, Diablo Grande Winery and Resort is
adding 250 full-service resort rooms and suites, a 15,000-square-foot
European Spa, a fitness center, and areas for outdoor enjoyment; three
more restaurants; a 25,000-square-foot conference center including an
8,400-square-foot Grand Ballroom and a team of event planners.
Construction is already underway on the semi-custom and custom residential
community in villages, ridgeline estates, and on golf-front lots.
Diablo Grande Wine Gallery location in San Francisco represents all the
Chateau facilities. If you like the wine tasting bar at the Ferry
Building, you’ll love the Diablo Grande Wine Gallery. It is conveniently
located at 669 Mission Street, near the corner of Mission and 3rd, just
around the corner from the Moscone Center. If you’re attending Macworld,
the Specialty Food or Gift shows at the Moscone Center in January and
February, you’ll be pleased to find a quiet place close by that seems
far, far away from the crowd. Step into the wine country at Mission and
3rd …Call them at (415) 543-4343 for more information.