Trek Winery Settles Down

After years of setbacks, Marin urban winery to open for public and custom crush Sept. 8

by Jane Firstenfeld
trek winery novato
The barrel-fermentation room at Trek is wired for special events.
Novato, Calif.—It’s been an uphill journey, and not without unexpected detours, but 2,400-case Trek Winery is coming to rest in downtown Novato, Calif., just south of Sonoma County. True to its name, Trek has led a nomadic existence since Andy and Liz Podshadley launched the business in 2007.

Taking its name from hiking expeditions Podshadley organized for Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops, Trek Winery originally set up shop in a Novato industrial park space subleased from Starry Nights. After brief and cordial negotiations with CBS Studios’ “Star Trek” empire (which quickly recognized that a tiny winery posed no threat to its priceless franchise), Podshadley was served with a lawsuit from Wisconsin-based Trek Bicycles alleging trademark infringement. This proved a far more costly and time-consuming threat, but in early 2010 a federal judge dismissed the case, and Trek Winery was free to carry on unburdened.

Only months later, though, its landlord, 12,000-case Starry Night Winery, abandoned its Marin County space, leaving its subtenants including Trek to seek other accommodations. Trek moved its storage and production to Sonoma County while the Podshadleys scrambled to secure a permanent downtown Novato location suitable for an urban winery and tasting room. Their first choice didn’t meet with city approval, but although that delayed progress, it was a blessing in disguise: The new space is three times as large.

With a population of around 50,000 and a downtown that’s only a few blocks square, it may be more suburban than urban—but surrounded by small, locally owned businesses, the Podshadleys expect it to become a center of activity.

With the grand opening still more than a week away, Trek already is hosting events that showcase the 12,000-square-foot facility. A gathering of city managers from throughout Northern California traveled to Novato to view the city’s new attraction.

Andy Podshadley’s love of the outdoors is evident throughout the facility, from the cut aspen trees in the tasting room to the 1,800-square-foot wine garden and koi pond. “I’d have liked to have a climbing wall,” Podshadley joked, “but my wife said no.”

Artwork from George Sumner, a Marin-based painter world renowned for marine-themed canvases, decorates the walls. The 3,800-square-foot fermentation room/barrel room is fully wired to accommodate special events.

Custom crush for small lots
Inspired perhaps by Trek’s circuitous journey, Podshadley is prepared to provide custom crush services for small lots. With five clients already enlisted and a potential capacity of about 18 tons, he is eager to talk with clients who have lots no larger than 10 tons of grapes.

With decades of experience at major wineries including Gloria Ferrer and Clos du Bois—and aware of the market gap left by the Crushpad implosion—Podshadley can guide clients through the process as much as desired.

He sources grapes for his wines (average retail: $19 per bottle) from top Russian River vineyards including Hambrecht Wine Group and Teldeschi.

Following the grand opening Sept. 8, Trek Winery will be open to the public Wednesdays through Sundays from 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. at 1026 Machin Ave. (one block off Redwood Boulevard) in Novato. Phone (415) 899-9883 for special events and custom crush details.

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