Vallejo's First Wine Tasting Room Opens on Mare Island

The former officer’s mansion at 500 Walnut Ave. on Mare Island is now the Vino Godfather Tasting Room — which holds its grand opening from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday, owner Twila Nixon announced.

Nixon and her brother, Jerry Pechar, were working Tuesday to ready the place for their eagerly awaited event.

“We were hoping to be open before this, but there were a couple of little flukes at City Hall that held it up and then we had to get a duplicate license from the (state Alcoholic Beverage Control),” Nixon said, explaining that her winery operation in the Napa Valley has the appropriate license, but it doesn’t cover the Vallejo site.

The grand opening includes music by Alvon Johnson and his band from 1 to 5 p.m., plus, for $15, tastings from five varietals from Prohibition Red, Prohibition White or Chardonnay.

There will also be free Napoli’s Pizza by the slice, baked in a wood-burning oven, Nixon said.

Nixon said 300 tables will be set up on the mansion’s lush grounds to accommodate the expected crowd.

Vallejo natives, Nixon and Pechar said they picked Vallejo for this operation after another site fell through, though they now realize Vallejo was probably the smarter choice.

“Originally, I was going to produce my wine at Winterhawk in Suisun Valley, but Gallo bought the place and closed it down,” Nixon said. “I attended a wedding at the mansion here and realized it would be a great place for a wine-tasting room.”

Nixon said Vallejo has “the perfect, mellow climate, and there is no wine tasting place here.”

There is the Mare Island Brewery, which carries Vino Godfather’s Prohibition-themed red and white wines, which are made in Napa, though Nixon said she hopes one day to combine the operations.

“What I’m trying to do is recreate what Winterhawk used to be before shutting down earlier this year,” she said. That site offered wine tasting, music and dancing.

The city’s budding art scene and its proximity to the Napa Valley, San Francisco and Sacramento made Vallejo ideal for this venture, Nixon and Pechar said.

A big supporter of his sister’s endeavors, Pechar said he’s excited about Vallejo’s first wine-tasting venue.

“I think we’ll draw a lot of tourism to Vallejo,” he said. “I wish I had a hotel out here. I think it’s going to take off.”

Contact Rachel Raskin-Zrihen at (707) 553-6824.