Russian River Brewing Company, the team behind Pliny the Elder and its cult-favorite, annually released sibling Pliny the Younger, has announced plans to sell its original Santa Rosa production facility. The sale comes as the brewery prepares to move into a new, $40 million state-of-the-art brewery and restaurant space in nearby Windsor, California in fall of 2018.
The new Russian River digs will double the brewery’s capacity, and alleviate some of the crowds that flock to the the company’s downtown Santa Rosa brewpub, which will remain unchanged. But owners Natalie and Vinnie Cilurzo say managing three operations would be too much, so they’re seeking a buyer for the original Russian River brewing facility, pitching the “turnkey” operation as an opportunity for another brewer to join the vibrant Sonoma beer scene. That buyer could move in by late 2018 or early 2019.
Wine country, these days is also beer country: Sonoma County is home to more than 25 breweries. Russian River is still the area’s most famous: founded in 1997 by Korbel Champagne Cellars, it was sold to its brewer Vinnie Cilurzo and wife Natalie Cilurzo in 2002 when Korbel ended its experiment in the beer business.
To meet demand overall, the Cilurzos announced their expansion last year, but didn’t signal to the public at the time that the original facility would close when the new facility, with its roughly 60,000 barrel capacity began production. Groundbreaking began in March.
Financed in large part by Comerica bank from Dallas — as opposed to the roughly 30 original investors the Cilurzos eventually bought out — the Windsor brewery will sport new features like German open-top fermentation tanks, a coolship to harness the flavors of naturally occurring yeast and bacteria, and a wastewater converter for sustainability. As for the restaurant on the premises, former Monk’s Kettle chef Adam Dulye is onboard as consulting chef.