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Roots Run Deep buys century-old Napa home, plans tasting room

Roots Run Deep buys century-old Napa home, plans tasting room

From the Napa Valley Wine Insider Digest: Feb. 21, 2020 series

The large, two-story house located at 1607 First St. in downtown Napa has another new owner.

Mark Albrecht of wine business Roots Run Deep has purchased the century-old downtown Napa home. He plans to open a tasting room to showcase his wines, including his most popular brand: Educated Guess.

The home was originally built around 1903 but was renovated this past year by previous owners Jessica and Ted Rippey.

“We’re excited to be part of the downtown community,” said Albrecht on Wednesday.

Three tasting salons will occupy the first floor with offices and other uses upstairs, he said.

“We’re looking forward to opening towards the end of February. We’re just chomping at the bit to get open.”

To fund the purchase, Albrecht turned to Bay Area Development Company.

The SBA licensed lender works with banks and the SBA’s 504 program to provide small and mid-sized companies with long term commercial real estate financing.

The loans have fixed, below-market interest rates and low down payments which allow businesses to purchase land and buildings, renovate existing facilities and acquire equipment, said a news release.

The 504 financing allowed the winery to create three new, local jobs and to purchase the 3,076 square foot building, located at the intersection of First and Seminary streets.

“It was important for us to get the SBA loan,” said Albrecht. “It definitely helped us out in a big way to have a portion of our loan funded by the SBA.”

The two-story home has five bedrooms, two and a half baths and has a 1,500-square-foot basement.

According to Napa Valley Register archives, from the 1930s to the mid-2000s, the house was home to members of the Smernes and Butler families. Before that, it was the home of Dr. and Mrs. Fred Heegler.

Jeanette (Smernes) Mulgrew knows the house inside and out. For 70 years, until the mid-2000s, the house was home to several generations of her family.

According to Mulgrew, her grandfather – Daniel Smernes — bought the house in the 1930s from Dr. and Mrs. Fred Heegler. The price was just $5,000.

The property is at a key location in downtown Napa — The city plans to build its “super block“ of city services directly across the street.

According to a news release, Albrecht worked for years as a wine buyer for a national retailer before opening Roots Run Deep in 2007.

His winery focuses primarily on its Educated Guess Cabernet Sauvignon and in 2018 was ranked by Nielsen as No. 5 for the highest volume of sales of Cabernet Sauvignon priced between $19 and $25 per bottle, said the release.

In 2017, Albrecht leased tasting room space in Napa for his winery, but that same year devastating wildfires hit the region. Albrecht had harvested his grapes before the fires, so they were not impacted by smoke and fire damage.

Albrecht’s goal was to purchase his own tasting room, as the leased space was not in a high traffic area and did not provide him with the exposure he desired.

Working with Umpqua Bank and with Bay Area Development’s Bob Thompson, he secured the funding needed to purchase space in the heart of downtown Napa.

“This enviable location offers high visibility and foot traffic, not to mention access to local shops, restaurants and hotels,” said the release.

“The new tasting room also gives him the room he needs for an office as well as much-needed storage space.”

Headquartered in Walnut Creek, Bay Area Development Company has provided more than $3 billion to companies throughout California.

You can reach reporter Jennifer Huffman at 256-2218 or

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Business Editor

Jennifer Huffman is the business editor and a general assignment reporter for the Napa Valley Register. I cover a wide variety of topics for the newspaper. I've been with the Register since 2005.

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