Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Excitement in Fair Play as new Skinner Winery/Tasting Room opens to the public

The Fair Play AVA is unbelievably beautiful right now, and the official Open House for Skinner Vineyards and Winery on May 22 is a perfect way to experience these delights.

Mike and Carey Skinner, owners, and Ryan Skinner, General Manager, are debuting the new Skinner Tasting Room located at their Stoney Creek Vineyard and offering a few tours through the state-of-the-art GreenTech winery and into the vineyards too. It's a celebration of the Skinner heritage in the wine business that goes back to 1861 in El Dorado County, and the Skinner family is there to tell you the story of their passion for winemaking in the Foothills and continuing the Skinner tradition. Their Rhone wines, too, are fantastic!

Skinner Vineyards prides itself in the care they took to design the new winery with many forward-thinking Eco features. Chris Pittenger is winemaker, and vineyard manager Bryan Rahn is proud of the Stoney Creek Vineyards, with the wonderful view all the way to Pyramid Peak.


The winery power needs are provided primarily by solar power; they’ve installed a 55 kW PV system. The Skinners also situated the building so the sun side (south) maximizes the solar-power generating potential, and assured that the solar panels line up to give the largest potential area for sun exposure.

They strategically situated the barrel rooms on the North more-shady side of the building for better energy efficiency. Their location here means this room requires less refrigeration and electricity, yet keeps the storage for Skinner's wines at ideal temperatures. Each of the 4 barrel rooms and the main cellar were built with temperature controlled sensors, which allows for sufficient cooling to be supplied by the cool outside air of the Sierra foothills evenings and mornings.

All of the fermentation tanks are located within the winery rather than being isolated outside. This simple design consideration reduces energy costs significantly. The result is use of much less electricity in order to keep the must and wines at a stable temperature in the tanks.


A large percentage of the steel for the metal winery building is recycled steel – almost 80%. The Skinners sought out drought resistant California heritage plants and shrubs to minimize water needs. They also used the highest R-Value insulation available in order to reduce energy needs and keep the barrel rooms at proper temperatures. And a final conservation detail concerns the wastewater from the winery: after treatment, the wastewater is spread out onto the property, and the grey water is used for the tasting room's landscaping too.


Bryan Rahn, vineyard manager, is proud of how the vineyard was designed as well as the farming practices used. The trellising systems optimizes fruit temperatures, and the rows are run up and down the hills to minimize soil disturbance during development (preserves the topsoil and improves erosion control). Before planting, they performed an intensive soil study to match the rootstocks to the soil characteristics. Rahn is proud of the plant mapping and irrigation management program, and the Skinner policy of only using materials that are the safest for the workers and environment. The Integrated Pest Management includes new owl boxes. Last but not least, they matched the clonal selections to the local climate.

It's worth the drive.

Skinner Vineyards & Winery
at Stoney Creek Vineyard
8054 Fairplay Rd
Somerset, CA 95684
Fair Play AVA / El Dorado AVA

For a map, please CLICK HERE to go to the contacts page on Skinner Vineyards’ website, and then click on the MAP (lower left)

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