Savage & Cooke Distillery Grand Opening

Jun 25, 2018

Savage & Cooke whiskey distillery and tasting room celebrates their Grand Opening this June! Dave Phinney, Napa Valley winemaker and owner of Savage & Cooke, hosted a celebration for the design and construction team to enjoy the success of the hard work that went into the renovation of buildings 45 and 65 on Mare Island. The event was full of kind words, good food and great whiskey, and was an opportunity for family and friends to tour the unique features of this distillery.


Mare Island, once home to a Naval shipyard during the Civil War and World War II, has remained relatively empty since the US Military left in the 1990s. The new whiskey distillery takes up two prominent historic buildings, 45 and 65, and is a major step in revitalizing the island.


We took a few minutes to sit down with our project architect, Eric Nelson, AIA, NCARB, to learn more about what makes this project unique:


What was the biggest challenge on this project? How did you solve it?

“While there were many challenges with these historic buildings, the most rewarding challenge was site adapting 1870 vintage buildings for a new function, with new programmatic requirements, while honoring the historic nature of the building. We retained the original historic nature of the building by upgrading windows and doors, making brick façade repairs, and preserving important building elements. We subtly changed the old concrete Building 45A, to create a tasting room. Changes from the original building are almost unrecognizable, however we added more historically accurate paned windows at the front of the building, and a board batten deck that perfectly fits with the original building. The result is a slightly modern look in an historic building.”


What is your favorite design element?

“The third story offices in building 65. It is a great space, with modern offices located in between the existing steel trusses. Historic clerestory “monitor” windows running down the ridge of the roof, and custom-made large round windows at each end, offering amazing natural light and a wonderful office environment.”

What are you looking forward to?

“I am looking forward to seeing the building perform for the purpose in which it was intended and seeing the people enjoy all of the design effort that we put into the building.”


What were three key elements that make this a successful project?

1) “Two great historical buildings with really great 'bones'."

2) “An owner with the foresight and the commitment to do the project right. Dave Phinney loves this project and wanted it to be the best it can be.”

3) “A really strong design team and construction team working together with a common vision, and a desire to accomplish a very special building.”