KINGMAN - Could Kingman grow into the next Napa Valley? Carlos Cella and a few of his neighbors certainly hope so.
Cella started his winery, Cella Wines, about four years ago after retiring after 35 years as a car body shop owner in California.
Cella said his friend, Don Stetson, purchased land in the Valle Vista area several years ago and encouraged Cella to come out and take a look. Cella liked the property and invested. He planted several acres of vines in 2008 with the help of family and friends and converted part of his garage into a winemaking facility.
Cella still lives in California and works for a body shop there. He commutes to Valle Vista on a regular basis to check on the vines and help a neighbor, Rand Terwilleger, harvest his grapes and bottle the juice.
"I've been making wine all my life," he said.
Cella's parents are originally from Italy and immigrated to Northern California in 1978. His father taught him how to make wine as a teenager. A family friend taught him how to perfect his winemaking skills.
But this is the first time Cella said he ever tried to grow the grapes to produce wine. Luckily, he had help from Terwilleger.
Terwilleger spent most of his life growing wine grapes in California and selling them to local wineries. He tired of the process of trying to grow and take care of acres and acres of grapes and moved to the Valle Vista area several years ago. Once here, Terwilleger, who is also an ad rep at the Miner, planted a few vines in his backyard to make a little wine for his family and friends.
Cella's vines reached full maturity this year and include Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Merlot, Chardonnay, Sirah and Sangiovese. He invited everyone who helped plant the vines three years ago to come back to help with his first harvest and bottling of the grapes.
The area is perfect for growing grapes, Cella said. The weather is mild, there's very little humidity, very few pests and the soil is great. He had his soil tested by a lab in California and was told that it was better than one of the best grape growing regions in California.
"I think the wine will have a very unique taste because of the soil," Cella said.
But he won't know what the wine will taste like until next July. If people like the wine, he may expand.
Cella's friend, Stetson, plans to build his own winery and an event center. He already has the zoning in place for the facility.
Cella hopes that the two wineries will become a tourist attraction and maybe bring more people interested in making wine to the area.
"This is something I have done all my life, with my dad first and now my friends. I love to do it. Every step of the way it's been exciting. I am hopeful that it is something good for Kingman," he said.
For more information on Cella Wines, call (714) 402-4878 or send an email to CellaWines@yahoo.com.