A Napa wine property with a recent history tinged with tragedy and rebirth is once again on the market and headed for a new beginning.
The modest property south of Yountville drew national attention in 2015 with the murder-suicide committed there by Robert Dahl, owner of Dahl Vineyards, the site’s then-tenant winery.
The property’s current owners, the McVicar family, founded a winery there in 1988 as a 20,000-gallon-a-year project that was not allowed to receive visitors. The property was the home of Chateau Chais de Napa until the 2000’s. The winery building was vacant until Dahl leased it in the summer of 2014.
Less than a year later, the site was shuttered after Dahl gunned down Emad Tawfilis, an investor in Dahl Vineyards, and killed himself shortly after. Tawfilis had come to the winery in an attempt to reclaim $1.2 million that he had lent to Dahl.
During a conference call between the men’s lawyers, Dahl, 47, pulled out a .22-caliber handgun and began chasing Tawfilis through a vineyard. He fired four shots while Tawfilis screamed for help in a cellphone call to police dispatch.
When Dahl caught up with Tawfilis, he killed him with a shot to the head, then fled in his SUV, sheriff’s deputies in pursuit, to a site off Oakville Grade where he killed himself, investigators said.
The incident was featured in a “48 Hours” episode on CBS, with the program promising a look at “ambition, greed and gunshots at a Napa Valley winery.”
Following the tragedy, the McVicars evicted Dahl Vineyards and took back control of the winery building. Through Michael Crain, owner of Michael Crain Properties, which is representing the property, the family declined to discuss the site’s history and their decision now to sell.
But for close to $6 million, a prospective vintner can bring a new identity to the 7.5-acre plot at 6155 Solano Ave., with its permitted winery building and six acres of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.
In the few months that he operated his winery at the site, Dahl made significant upgrades to the property, including the addition of a tasting room. Dahl’s work was made without building permits, which caught the attention of the county and resulted in two code compliance cases in 2014.
In October 2016, the McVicars sought a new chapter for the property, one that would allow for visitors and marketing events.
The county planning commission approved the site then for a reimagined 1,131- square-foot winery building with a 300-square-foot tasting room, as well as a covered crush pad and patio. Planners approved visitor numbers at 12 per day, with a maximum of 84 visitors a week. The site was also approved to host 10 marketing events a year with at most 30 guests per event.
According to county planners, the visitors numbers approved in 2016 still apply for the site today, while the winery’s production levels of 20,000 gallons a year remained unchanged.