Film studio, winery sought at old Vallejo naval base
A corner of Vallejo’s Mare Island once eyed for an electric car factory could house a film studio and a winery instead, if a Wine Country mogul and his business partners succeed.
The Vallejo City Council unanimously agreed Tuesday to enter exclusive negotiations with the Nimitz Group — backed by Dave Phinney, creator of the Prisoner and Orin Swift wines — to redevelop 157 acres of waterfront on the former naval base.
Others have expressed interest in the space, which lies between Highway 37 and the Mare Island Causeway. Faraday Future, an electric car startup company based in Southern California and backed by one of China’s richest men, wanted to build a factory there, only to abandon those plans last year in the midst of a cash crunch. Now Nimitz will have at least 120 days to negotiate a deal for the property.
Phinney recently opened a distillery — dubbed Savage & Cooke — on the old base’s southern end. In this new venture, his partners include Sebastian Lane, a real estate broker and owner of Depiction Wines, and Gaylon Lawrence Jr., whose family owns farms and community banks in several states and who recently bought Heitz Wine Cellars in Napa Valley.
Their plan includes a 600,000-square foot film studio for SHM Partners Film Mare Island. The Netflix series “13 Reasons Why” already films some
scenes on the island.
In addition, the development would include space for a winery, plus its warehouses, processing facilities and a tasting room. Joel Gott Wines and Safe Harbor Wine Partners have expressed interest.
The project would also include office and retail space as well as a community park.
“Dave Phinney and Nimitz Group have a plan that is exciting, forward-thinking and high-end,” Vallejo Mayor Bob Sampayan said in a statement. “This vision is something Vallejo has been clamoring for since North Mare Island opened for development several years ago.”
Napa Valley winemaker Dave Phinney walks through the site of distillery Savage & Cooke on Mare Island in October. He wants to redevelop 157 acres of waterfront on the former naval base for a winery and film studio.