I was first introduced to Old Growth Cellars when I was pouring wine at the next table during the Arcata Bay Oyster Festival in 2015. I was relatively new to the local wine industry and the friendly, “Hi, I’m Matt,” was welcome. Matt Garrett poured me wines from Old Growth Cellars and shared with me how he had inherited his partnership in the winery from his father, Steve Garrett.

Steve began Old Growth Cellars with his friend Jim Pastori in 1999 as a hobby. The two eventually graduated to making wine they were confident enough to share, working with family-owned vineyards to produce zinfandel and petite sirah, building relationships that have continued to grow with every step of the business.

When Steve passed away in 2010, Matt stepped into his position as partner alongside Pastori. Shortly after Matt and I met, he moved on to explore new adventures and Pastori’s longtime friend Bob Lima stepped into the position as his new partner.

click to enlarge The bar at Old Growth Cellars' tasting room. - AMY KUMLER
  • Amy Kumler
  • The bar at Old Growth Cellars' tasting room.

Pastori and Lima continued to expand the business, increasing production until they eventually outgrew the 1,900-square-foot shop they had been using as their winery. In hunting for a new space, they found an old truck terminal on Hilfiker Lane in 2017. The larger space suited their winemaking needs and, after a year of renovations, what was the truck terminal’s customer service office became the perfect space for a tasting room.

Turning onto Hilfiker Lane, the last thing you would expect to find amid the industrial lots is a wine tasting room. In fact, it’s easy to think maybe Google Maps has made a mistake until you see a huge billboard affirming that there is indeed wine ahead. But once you’ve followed the signs and walked through the front door, you find yourself in a beautifully stylized tasting room. Wood and iron accents embrace the industrial surroundings while also making for a warm and inviting feeling. Local art hangs on the walls and metal letters spell out “Old Growth Cellars” on the back bar.

click to enlarge AMY KUMLER
  • Amy Kumler

The tasting room is open for regular service Tuesday through Saturday from 1 to 7 p.m., when you can taste the wide array of wines the winery now offers. Of course, Old Growth still makes its flagship petite sirah and zinfandel, which are both big, fruit-forward, easy drinkers that any red lovers would enjoy. But now there’s also sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, pinot noir and even a granache rosé named after Pastori’s granddaughter Dawsyn.

The winery, with barrels lining the walls, also doubles as an event space. The room is available to rent for private parties. Old Growth also hosts events that are open to the public, like comedy and magic shows.

On the wooden bar top sits a bottle with Old Growth’s original label and the name “Steve’s Good Red.” Though they lost a founding partner, the original priorities of making quality wine to share and maintaining lasting relationships have always remained the same. The new tasting room is the perfect way to continue the tradition.
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Erin Young

Erin Young

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