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June 12, 2021

Wargin Wines moving production from Watsonville to Gilroy

After nine years, Wargin Wines will be moving its production and tasting room out of Watsonville—at least for the time being.

The winery, which was established in December of 2012, was one of the first wineries to settle in the Pajaro Valley in recent years. Wargin kickstarted a number of other ventures in the area, including training El Vaquero Winery’s winemaker Alex Prikazsky.

“This is really where it started,” said Denise Wargin, who owns the business along with husband and winemaker, Mikael Wargin. “We’d like to think we were one of the ‘founding fathers’ of bringing this industry to Watsonville. So this move was not an easy decision. We’re very attached to this town.”

The business will be moving out of its current location at 11 Hangar Way and over the hill to the Atelier des Savants Fous (formerly the Stomping Ground) co-op in Gilroy, where Wargin Wines has maintained a secondary production operation for the past five years.

Denise said they had already reached maximum capacity at their Watsonville location prior to the pandemic, and the plan was always to consolidate both locations to a bigger site in the Pajaro Valley. 

But when Covid hit, things got a bit more complicated. In addition, in 2020 the City approved retail cannabis locations—causing a lot of places, including the building at 11 Hangar Way, to be bought by such businesses. 

“We just ran into the tight Santa Cruz real estate market,” Denise said. “There really wasn’t a place that we could find to move into. With all the changes, we needed to make a decision of where we were going to land.”

But a lot of positive change comes with the move, as well. The winery recently took on 10 acres of its own fruit in Santa Clara County—a lot for such a small operation. Santa Clara County, Denise explained, is where the local Italian grape varietals grow, and Wargin Wines specializes in Italian wines. Having production closer to the vineyards will be beneficial to the business, she said. 

“In Gilroy… there is a capacity for growth,” Denise said. “We’ll be able to focus on just making more wine, trying different varietals.”

Wargin Wines is still actively looking for a space in Watsonville to open a tasting room, similar to the one they opened in Soquel Village (5015 Soquel Drive). They are interested in a Downtown location, or other areas of the city that are seeing revitalization.

This past weekend was the winery’s last at it’s Hangar Way location. However, Wargin Wines’ tasting room in Soquel will remain open, with extended hours coming this summer.

Johanna Miller
Reporter Johanna Miller grew up in Watsonville, attending local public schools and Cabrillo College before transferring to Pacific University Oregon to study Literature. She covers arts and culture, business and agriculture.

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