FAIRFIELD — Wine and cars both made an impact on the local business scene in 2013.
The year saw several major businesses either open or announce they will be coming to central Solano County. The good news was tempered by the closing of some major local stores.
The Wagner Family of Wine announced it will build a winery in southernmost Suisun Valley. The Wagner family owns Caymus Vineyards in the Napa Valley.
The winery will be located on 176 acres at 2658 Cordelia Road and is to be built in phases through 2018. It is to have a capacity of 5 million gallons of wine annually, an amount that would far and away make it the biggest winery in Solano County.
Charles Wagner appeared before the county Planning Commission on Aug. 1 and talked about why the family chose Solano County for its winery.
“It’s a great location, centrally located near highways,” Wagner said.
Local vintners welcomed the news. They viewed it as another step to putting Suisun Valley on the wine map.
Also in 2013, Encore!Glass announced it is moving from Benicia to Fairfield. The company contracts for wine bottles made in such places as Asia and Mexico and supplies them to about 900 wineries, along with packaging services. It has about 60 employees.
Encore!Glass will be located in a $16 million, 318,000-square-foot, concrete tilt-up building being built by Sacramento-based developer Buzz Oates on Cordelia Road. Buzz Oates plans to build another, $24 million, 471,000-square-foot building on the same site.
Groundbreaking took place on May 1. Fairfield officials welcomed the news as a sign of an improving industrial land market.
Fairfield also saw the opening of CarMax on Aug. 28 in its Auto Mall. CarMax took over the site of the old Chrysler and Dodge dealerships that closed during the Great Recession.
Fairfield Mayor Harry Price said CarMax will bring people from all over the region. Once they come to Fairfield, they might visit other auto mall dealerships or attractions such as Jelly Belly, he said.
“From an economic point of view, it’s going to be a great draw,” Price said on CarMax’s opening day.
Vacaville spent much of the year wooing Icon Aircraft. The company could establish a manufacturing plant for the Icon A5, a two-seat, amphibious landing aircraft with fold-up wings, a speed of up to 120 mph and range of 300 miles.
Icon plans to move from Southern California to either Vacaville or a site in Texas or Arizona. Company officials called Vacaville the “top contender” and the company moved to buy 14 acres of county land near Nut Tree Airport for $2.1 million. But Icon by year’s end had yet to announce its choice for a new home.
A long-established Fairfield business left in 2013. Dennis Landis in May closed his The Blue Frog Grog and Grill at 1750 Travis Blvd. He had opened it 25 years earlier at the first restaurant in Fairfield’s Gateway area.
“He was a pioneer. He took a chance before anybody else. He saw Fairfield had a good potential,” Fairfield Senior Economic Development Division Project Manager Karl Dumas said.
A few weeks ago, Fuddruckers opened in The Blue Frog building. The hamburger restaurant kept a trace of The Blue Frog alive.
“We were able to keep the brewery intact and keep the brand of Blue Frog going, which has a very large following in the Fairfield area and beyond that,” said George Almeida, who owns the local Fuddruckers.
Two Suisun Valley restaurants saw changes in 2013.
Rockville Bar & Grill at Rockville Corner closed for remodeling in September. It reopened as an Italian restaurant called Salvio at the Rock, named after the chef.
And, early in the year, Mankas Steakhouse replaced Mankas Tapas Bar and Steakhouse at Mankas Corner. The new owners and chef came with experience from the Napa Valley culinary world.
The past year also saw the loss of some businesses. Orchard Supply Hardware closed stores in Fairfield and Vacaville. Kmart closed its Fairfield store.
Agriculture is the rural county’s biggest business. The county Agricultural Department in June announced that the previous year, 2012, saw county crops reach a total value of $343 million, an all-time high.
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.