Spring Landscaping to Get Underway near Hillside Cave
April 29, 2013
Spring is here! We’ve been waiting for the snow to melt so we can finish making the cave area beautiful. Starting this week, we’ll be revising the walk to the cave, making it wind beautifully among flowers and grapevines, and the temporary gravel road for the cave work will be disappearing. We are taking special care of the oak tree planted in memory of Bob Wollersheim, and will move it, along with the commemorative stone, about ten feet to the middle of a new upper wine garden terrace.
We have lots to accomplish in the next month before the official Ribbon Cutting of the cave in June. The landscaping will be happening Monday-Thursday and we do expect the Wine Garden will be extra noisy. We will wait to put up the burgundy Wine Garden tent until the landscaping dust is finished. We can’t wait to see the project completed!
Windows & Doors Installed!
January 9, 2013
The front of the cave is finally enclosed with arched glass windows and double doors. We’re finalizing plans for landscaping around the cave which will start once the snow melts. An exciting new feature will be an additional Wine Garden area to the left of the cave, with tables to enjoy the view. We’ll also add some new grapevines on the path up to the cave. It will take us all spring to put everything in place, but we’re looking forward to the completion in time for the Ribbon Cutting on June 21st.
Enclosing the Cave for Winter
November 14, 2012
We’re getting ready for the winter. The cave is resting and will get its front "cover" in just a few more weeks. The front will have two doors that we can prop open with arched windows around the sides. It will be all enclosed at the beginning of December. Next spring we will do a new path to the cave and some signs explaining the historical significance. We’ll be removing a few of the grapevines on the right to better appreciate the cave, but will add back new grapevines to the left of the cave. The Grand Opening/Ribbon Cutting of the cave is scheduled for Friday, June 21st at 11:00 am!
There's A Light at the End of the Tunnel!
September 27, 2012
We’re starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel! (Pun intended.) The hardest part of the cave remodeling is finished. The deeper into the project we got, the more we realized how the tree roots had damaged the back part of the cave as they grew into the sandstone. The picture (above right) of the back cave shows the supports as the hole in the back roof was repaired, but luckily the walls were in great condition. We’re so happy that the entire structure has been stabilized and the stone walls and arches have been re-pointed with mortar. The two chimneys in the cave are also restored and will let in natural light.
Our goal now is to close up the cave with a front door to prevent moisture from re-entering the cave. In the 1800s, the cave once had a wooden door across the front. We will be putting a glass door so the cave view, from inside or out, can be enjoyed. The door won’t be ready until late November and we expect to have the cave completely finished by next spring. We can’t wait to share this piece of history with you!
An Ever Evolving Project
August 16, 2012
What an exciting project restoring the cave is turning out to be. The three sections of the cave have been re-opened up (by hand and by machine) and the structure plan has been ever evolving as each day brings a new revelation of tree roots or sandstone. We are doing everything possible to stabilize the deepest part of the cave, which is a small room carved out of the rock by Agoston Haraszthy.
Architect Steve Wollersheim is working with the engineer and masons to make the second and third parts stable as we now hope to be able to make use of the entire cave rather than close off the back section with a glass viewing window. We don’t have an end date as that’s not as important as the end result. Be sure to check out the progress on your next visit.
Pressure Washing + Mortar = Progress!
July 23, 2012
It's exciting to see the cave progressing. The masons have been tuck-pointing the places where mortar is missing between the stones. We chose a color that’s as close as possible to the original grayish color.
Soon they will be filling in the gap where the tree roots had pushed dirt through between the outer and middle sections.
Our current plan is to make the back area a museum room with some barrels and old wine tools that will be behind a glass pane. We’re hoping the cave can be done by late fall.
Project Update: Shoveling Complete!
June 1, 2012
After hours and hours of shoveling, digging, and removing dirt by hand, we’ve finally shoveled the last clod of dirt! Now it’s up to the experts to take our Cave Restoration Project to the next level. Steve Wollersheim and a professional team will be coming in to continue the rest of the project of restoring, designing and, finally, building our vision for the cave. We’ve got some great plans up our sleeves to celebrate this 40-year dream-to-reality project, and can’t wait to share the final product with you hopefully this fall. We’ll keep you posted on the progress, so make sure to stay tuned…
Digging In: Cave Restoration Project Update
May 22, 2012
The bats have been cleared out and the resident raccoon has relocated. Now we’re “digging in” to the Cave Restoration Project – literally. After laying down an access road and removing some trees from the area, we are currently busy removing the mounds of dirt and rock that have cluttered the cave for decades. It’s proving to be quite a process that requires both hand-digging and the Bobcat tractor, but it is exciting to see progress take shape the farther – and further – in we get.
The integrity of the actual cave structure is impressive, and very reminiscent to the size and shape of what you see in our winery cellars; a big limestone arch that leads into a square room about 55 feet back into the hillside. The development of the project will continue throughout the summer and parts of fall, as we still have yet to determine what the final finish date will be.
Stay tuned with us as we watch the past come alive again to be part of Wollersheim’s present and future.
Cave Restoration Project Progressing
April 24, 2012
It had been Bob Wollersheim’s dream to renovate the old cave snuggled in the vineyard hillside since he and wife, JoAnn, purchased the property in 1972. Now, with the 40th anniversary upon us, we are finally making that dream a reality. It’s an evolving project and the final use of the cave, whether it be museum or special tasting room, is still to be decided. But construction is underway!
The cave is rich in history; Count Agoston Haraszthy originally dug the cave in the hillside to store his wine here, and then winery builder Peter Kehl and his family added on to the cave in the 1850s and lived in the cave for a year while the family home (also still on property today) was being built. But time has taken a toll after a number of years of sitting empty, and at some point in time, there was a cave-in between the junction of the newer and older portions of the cave. However, the excavation crew was actually impressed with how well-preserved and sturdy the actual structure still is, which is great news for us!
Preservation of the cave is at the forefront of our efforts, and the first step in the whole of this project is to protect the cave from caving in any further. So far, we have an access road made leading up to the cave so that the crew can enter the area easily. Although the cave area will be blocked off during the spring, summer, and part of the fall, visitors will still be able to see the work in progress for themselves, catching a glimpse of yet another piece of Wollersheim’s history being made. We will continue to keep you updated with the exciting details as they unfold, so stay tuned..