Following San Francisco’s 1906 historic earthquake the California Wine Association moved from their South of Market headquarters across the bay to the Richmond shore’s Point Molate.
The imposing castle-like building operated as the world’s largest winery for 12 years, producing an astounding 12 million gallons of wine annually and employing as many as 400 people. Sadly, at the peak of Winehaven’s success it was forced to shut down major operations when prohibition declared the party was over in 1919.
Though sacramental wine continued to be produced on a limited scale, most of the buildings sat abandoned until 1941 when the Navy purchased the property and converted it into a fuel supply depot. Twenty huge underground fuel tanks were built into the hillside, with pipes extending down to the pier and the waiting ships. The depot was active during the Korean and Vietnam Wars and remained in Navy hands until 1995, when it was decommissioned and eventually handed over to the city of Richmond.
The buildings are patrolled by security and fenced off to visitors, but adventurous explorers can manage a closer look, at their own risk. Other less adventurous visitors can drive or walk around the fence to glimpse the former glory of the impressive structure that served as a precursor to the well-known California wines of Napa and Sonoma.
Know Before You Go
Take the Western Drive (or Point Molate) exit and continue 1.7 miles.