Christopher Rosacker
crosacker@theunion.com

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March 18, 2013
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Wine growers plan tasting room exit from Nevada City

After nearly two decades in one of Nevada City’s most prominent locales at the corner of Pine and Broad streets, the owners of Indian Springs Tasting Room are preparing to close the doors of their wine-sipping hot spot in June.

“Our customers are sad,” said Julie Holmes, who opened the tasting room 17 years ago with Dennis Ball.

“I haven’t gotten through all the emails yet,” Holmes said. “I have pages and pages of costumers to respond to.”

When those doors do shut this summer, they will effectively signify Indian Springs’ departure from Nevada County’s wine industry after exactly 30 years.

“It’s been a kick,” Holmes said. “We have had some very special memories here.”

Ball added, “Too many to tell.”

The grapes that go into Indian Springs’ bottles have roots that go back to 1983, when Ball purchased 450 acres of a former Nevada County cattle ranch and developed 112 of them for grape-growing.

“I had spent a year looking, most of it in Northern California,” Ball told The Union. “I fell in love with the property... It was a big step, but I knew what I wanted.”

While the first harvest on the land was a success, Ball said it takes three to five years before a plant’s fruit is optimal.

Originally, Ball sold his grapes to other wineries — contracts that would eventually include several of Napa and Sonoma counties’ best wineries.

“I knew it was quality stuff,” Ball said. “Over time, I started looking into making wine so I could take it to other wineries to show the quality.”

In the beginning, Ball made white wines, he said.

“The foothills wasn’t know for its white grapes,” Ball said. “It turned out to be really nice wine.”

But it wasn’t long before he was making reds too.

After their 1992 meeting, Ball and Holmes opened the tasting room four years later on Nevada City’s Broad Street, which is essentially the town’s most-visited main street in a building that had most recently been a culinary store.

Before opening, the couple gutted the rented location for a remodel, only to discover that beneath layers of flooring was rich wood; behind white walls was beautiful brick; and above tiled ceiling was a intricate wooded interlace just begging to be seen, the couple said.

Friends and employees pitched in to turn the spot into the iconic digs seen today.

“We wanted to give the impression of being in a cellar,” Ball said.

That included filling space with old casks and other related products. Originally their gift product offering was small, but demand prompted the couple to add more souvenirs.

“It’s a lot fuller now,” Holmes said. “We thought it was full when we started. Well, that didn’t last long at all. We ended up filling the whole place up.”

The winery’s initial opening was made possible by Ball’s stockpiling of those bottles he was making.

“It was the next step to take,” Holmes said.

But not the last.

In 2001, Ball started a second vineyard, doubling the size of his plantings too keep up with demand.

“We are something of a destination,” Holmes said. “We are a place that some people bring their family to every holiday.”

In addition to hundreds of awards, including a “Best of Variety” designation for their syrah at Jerry D. Mead’s New World International Wine Competition, Indian Springs was featured in the November 2011 issue of Sunset Magazine as a must-stop spot in Nevada City.

“That was pretty exciting,” Holmes said.

Ball sold off the vineyard land several years ago and the couple focused their efforts on the tasting room.

“I would love to see it stay a winery,” Ball said. “I hope (the space) gets rented right away.”

The couple plan to retire and dedicate no short amount of time to traveling the country in their recreational vehicle.

“It’s kind of like another chapter,” Holmes said. “We have such fond memories — the next chapter will involve cherishing those memories.”

Before they leave though, the couple are planning a May party to thank their customers for years of patronage.

“We would like to thank them for all the years of friendship and service,” the a Thursday advertisement in The Union announcing their retirement. “We look forward to seeing you around town.”

To contact Staff Writer Christopher Rosacker, email crosacker@theunion.com or call 530-477-4236.


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The Union Updated Mar 22, 2013 12:22PM Published Mar 19, 2013 08:59AM Copyright 2013 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.