Operating off the grid is nothing new in the Anderson valley; it’s not unheard of for residents to illuminate their homes at night with candles or who get their drinking water from a spring. The three communities that make up the valley are rural and remote. Many of the roads into the flanking mountains are unpaved, and the nearest city is a 30 minute drive away, on a twisting two-lane mountain highway. Going off the grid with a commercial-scale dairy and creamery is a bit more challenging… as in 220 solar panels challenging.
I had a meeting with our architect, Steve, yesterday to discuss details of our raw milk cheese aging racks. At the end of the talk I asked where we were in terms of progress on the creamery. Our construction team, (members of Navarro’s vineyard crew), are very skilled in construction, concrete work, and welding, and have spent much of the last two years building the dairy rather than working in the vineyards. However they got pulled this week to aid with harvest as rains over the weekend made getting grapes off the vine the more immediate priority. The creamery site has been vacant all this week with Alvaro, Carlos, and Andres occupied with harvest and crush at Navarro. From what Steve told me, we would have been due for a lull anyway.
In just a few days we went from a concrete pad to a framed creamery building!
Cheese makers often talk about the balance of artistry and science in cheese making. The framing design is the balance between artistry and science in creamery building. Certain aspects of framing are dictated by mathematics: doors need to be wide enough for equipment to pass through them, aging rooms need dimensions that accommodate the volume of cheese they will house, blocking between wall studs needs to be in place where shelves will be mounted. And then you have windows, more importantly you have the view from windows… that is where aesthetics come in to the design! Sure, you could argue windows provide light to work by, but with strict candle foot requirements for each processing room dictated by regulating agencies windows aren’t really going to be sufficient in most cases. What windows really contribute to the design is a view and a connection with the outside world!