The wine industry has been a visible part of the California railroad scene since the early 1900s. Wine was shipped within the state and interstate using dedicated tank cars. It was common for wines to be produced in California and bottled in local markets in other parts of the country. New York state used to be a leader in imported bulk wine for many years. One the leading brands, Taylor, blended the California product with their locally sourced wine.
Wine was shipped in a variety of tank cars. Most of the tank type bodies were insulated with a food grade lining. The cars were in dedicated service and would not be loaded with other commodities. The unusual member of the fleet was the rebuilt milk cars leased or purchased from General American.
Wine produced by premium houses would rarely be subjected to this long trip. We are talking about inexpensive table or jug wines. There were fortified wines that were shipped by rail as well. The picture shown below is the Fresno yard in the late 1950s. It gives you and idea of how many cars would be possible to see a major shipping point like Fresno.
The SP, WP and ATSF had numerous shippers of bulk wine in the routes in the Central Valley of California. The plants were often unassuming when compared to the over-the-top architecture of today’s producers. This class of wine never aged in oak imported from France in limestone caves or old vine covered stone buildings. Nearly all of the operations are inside a large structure with possibly some steel storage tanks out back. Blending of various wine stocks would allow the producer to achieve a fairly uniform taste. The buildings could built against a backdrop taking minimum layout space. While the harvest season is late summer to early fall, shipments could be year around. Chateau Martin was a big producer of table wines with several plants within California. CM was noted for using old milk tank cars to ship wine their eastern bottlers. The cars were a shade of purple with hand painted graphics. You can learn more about this company by visiting Dr. James Lancaster’s website. http://coastdaylight.com/chatmart/cmwx_roster_1.html
One of the older family producer wineries is Beaulieu Vineyard in Rutherford, California. It is in the center of the legendary Napa Valley. You can find today’s winery along Highway 29 close to St. Helena. I have always admired the old stone winery covered with ivy. It has old style class which is lacking in most of the recent wineries built. I had always wondered if the winery had a spur at one time. Well, I found this picture the other night while collecting information for the posting. I suspect that the boxcar had bottles or shipping containers. They may have received fruit in reefers. Grapes a often bought and sold to achieve the right balance or character in the wine.
The photo above shows the south end of Beaulieu winery. The picture was focused on the SP excursion train and not the building. Fortunate for me, the image had this gem in the background.
So if you want to model wine cars and adding a winery to your railroad, where do I start? A common wine car was AC&F insulated 8000 gallon version. A million of these have been imported so they can be had cheaply.
Precision Scale Models did some GATC 6000 gallon cars a while back. They are pricy and not perfect.
In the meanwhile, we have a wonderful supply of decals produced by Protocraft. Now if , we can get Norm to do the California Dispatch Line decals and a low cost wine car is at hand. CDLX operated a large fleet of insulated cars supporting the food and wine industry. Please Norm