Presidio of San Francisco (July 7, 2003) -- A century-old battery that once stored mortar munitions to defend the Golden Gate against adversaries during three wars is now being leased to a firm that plans use the cavernous bunker to store cases of fine wine destined for Bay Area eateries.
Wine connoisseurs might not see “Battery Cabernet” on their market shelves soon, but the Presidio Trust has leased the 106-year old, 8,500 square foot former military battery to Christo Kasaris, whose new “Presidio Wine Bunker” may have a robust future. His first customer will store several hundred cases of wine in the dank old bunker. The battery’s interior environment remains steady, between 55 and 58 degrees with 73% relative humidity, which may once have been perfect for armament, but it is also ideal for wine storage.
The old military bunker is so vast that it could hold up to 100,000 cases of wine. Battery McKinnon-Stotensberg was built in 1897 by the U.S. Army as an integral element in the San Francisco Bay defense. It remained an active coastal installation until 1946 when its last weapons were removed.
Before renovations were made in the historic building, photographs were take of the former generator room, where traces of a Cold War-era communications center appear complete with surface-mounted telephone cables hastily attached to wood-trim and hand-chalked legends on the walls reading, “Fort Irwin.” In 1955, it is believed that a Presidio training exercise called, “Operation Breakthrough” was held at the former U.S. Army base utilizing a portion of the battery as a communications center.
The U.S. Army left the Presidio for good in 1994 and two years later the Presidio Trust was created by Congress to manage the park’s interior land and buildings.