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New Avanguardia and Sierra Starr tasting rooms in Grass Valley

DESPITE THE RECESSION, SIERRA FOOTHILL wineries are forging ahead with expansion. It shows the wineries' bullishness about the future, where California wine consumption is growing despite the prolonged downturn.
This summer, Naggiar opened a $1.5 million, 3,600-square foot wine tasting room with a long wooden bar and beamed ceiling, a private tasting room and fully equipped commercial kitchen.

Sierra Starr has popped the cork on a new wine tasting room in historic downtown Grass Valley. With a mural of the Sierra Star vineyard painted on the wall (shown above in progress), custom bar and modern concrete floors, the
location is expected to draw wine enthusiasts from throughout the area, as well as Sacramento, Tahoe/Truckee and Reno.

The tasting room, located at 124 W. Main St. at the intersection of Mill St., opened in September. It will be open daily, noon to 5 p.m. Records show the building; bought this summer by Sierra Starr owner Phil Starr and his wife, Anne, of Nevada City; was originally built in the 1870s. The address is documented in Images of America—Grass Valley by Claudine Chalmers (who also is a freelance writer for FoodWineArt) as being located in "the waterfront" district. It was a site where "watering holes stayed open all night and successful madams capitalized on Grass Valley's frontier spirit."

The Starrs have helped bring the building, which used to be a bank branch, back to its origins. "Internal restoration revealed a fine example of mid-1800s architecture, with brick and stone walls adorning all sides," according to the Starrs.

Sierra Starr's former tasting room, at 209 W. Main St., will become the home of Avanguardia Wines' tasting room.
Avanguardia, founded five years ago, blends more than 20 Italian, Russian, French and University of California created blends from its vineyards in Nevada City to create fine wines.

Owners Rob and Marilyn Chrisman have family roots in farming. Rob's father's family came to California in the 1850s and started a produce ranch near what is now Ventura.

Marilyn grew up on a small farm in Michigan. Avanguardia's tasting room opened in September and will extend the visibility of its award-winning blends.