LODI — A long dormant former auto dealership is slated to get a new life early next year if all goes according to plan.
The former Plummer Automall, which sold its last vehicle in 2009, will become home to the Calturas Winery, Firehouse Restaurant and Brewery. Liquor licensing, for what will be the largest re-use project in the city of Lodi, was approved in late October.
“They are taking a space that has been difficult to repurpose in terms of area,” said city of Lodi Business Development Manager Adam Brucker. “It will be great for visitation. It certainly ties in with the area wine industry.”
The 11.69-acre site, at 1333 E. Kettleman Lane, was purchased by Tracy-based Kay Tayler Investments in late 2015. The site contains 70,000 square feet of building space and enough room for 350 to 400 parking spaces.
Plans call for a 6,000-square-foot wine tasting bar that will include a lounge and tasting room. The project is also slated to include a wood-fired pizza kitchen with menus that will change monthly. Developers hope to have celebrity chefs come to the facility for cooking demonstrations, classes and dinners.
A center for wine production is also planned for the site. The facility will include space for shipping and storage as well as a crushing venue. Clients will be able to have the center process and bottle their own grapes.
The facility will also feature a beer pub that will allow for beer tasting and outdoor entertainment venues that will accommodate at least 14 entertainment dates per year.
The fact that the facility will include both beer as well as wine tasting will set Calturas apart.
“There is Lodi Beer Co. downtown and a new brewery will be opening next year,” said Brucker. “We have 85-plus wineries in the area, to add something like this will add to the appeal.”
Area economic development and visitor groups hope the new complex will add to the region’s already bustling tourism industry. Developers see the facility drawing visitors from up to 90 miles from Lodi.
The facility’s location near Highway 99 and its proximity to hotels such as the Holiday Inn Express on East Kettleman Lane and the Hampton Inn & Suites on North Beckman Road should make the facility a major draw for area tourists.
“I think it’s another symbol of the potential for wine-related business development,” said Lodi Wine and Grape Commission Program Manager Stuart Spencer. “I think it will definitely have an impact.”
He said Lodi’s growing collection of wineries combined with its proximity to major metropolitan areas will add to the area’s reputation as a wine tourist mecca.
“Every weekend there are more and more tourists that come here drawn by our wine facilities,” he said. “It all goes hand-in-hand.”
Tourism officials don’t expect the growth to slow down anytime soon.
“The area still has a big potential for growth,” Spencer said. “As the region matures and develops more, we are going to see more people investing in the area.”