The Flywheel

Program for November 7, 2008

What next for the mortgage industry?

Picnic table crushed by tree
The picnic is over. Photo by Nick Despota.

Rich Mazziotti, a 30+ year veteran in the mortgage financing industry, is currently a private banking mortgage lender with Wells Fargo Bank.

Mr. Mazziotti will discuss the history of mortgage financing, what happened to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and his best guest at what will happen next.

MEETING OF October 31st, 2008

Welcome, Invocation, Thought or Joke for the Day

President Mark Howe called the Ghosts of Winehaven fundraiser for the Richmond Rotary Peace Project event to order (almost)… With more than 270 Rotarians and guests in attending, it was a little hard to tell if we ever really came to order.
Don't miss the photos.

Visiting Rotarians

There were many visiting Rotarians … Some of the various Rotary Clubs which came to enjoy the event and support the Richmond Rotary Peace Project included members from the El Cerrito, El Sobrante, Pinole, Hercules and Napa Clubs.

Rotarians with Guests

Almost all of the Rotarians brought guests and other guests brought guests too. Many attendees wore great Halloween costumes. After all this was the “Ghosts of Winehaven” event.  [Jim Young reported sighting ghosts in the basement of the building: “...large stores of bomb shelter supplies, from barrels of civil defense drinking water to a small mountain of stretchers”— ghosts of the Cold War left here by the Navy, which occupied by the building after 1941. See Program below. -N.D.]

Sunshine Report

It did not rain. It did rain the day before and the day after the event but it not rain on our parade. It was almost sunshine and we were glad and grateful.


  • Mark was Master of Ceremonies for the event. Among other things he announced when the buffet lunch was served. A most important announcement.
  • He encouraged everyone to check-out the display boards on the history and possible future of Winehaven.
  • Mark asked everyone to bid on the items for the Silent Auction and ran the Live Auction with John Ziesenhenne… which they did with great gusto. Everyone in-turn responded with great gusto.
  • Mark requested us to participate in the Wine Tasting/Donation activity. Again everyone responded with enthusiasm.
  • He also encouraged everyone to take a stroll through the winery and to tour the Wine Master’s cottage. And again the crowd complied.


Recognition and thanks go to Mark Howe, Marsha Tomassi, and to the rest of the event Committee of Alan Baer, Michael Gill, Barbara M., John Salmon, Karen Jewell and Margaret Morkowski.  Also recognition and a special thank you to David Brown, Jan Brown, Tom Butt, Hank Covell, Nick Despota and his wife Nel, Barbara Diaz, Josh Genser, Laura Kuhn, Don Lau, Jon Lawlis, Rafael Madrigal, Mid Dornan, Pat Pearson, Bill Travis, Dustin Travis, John Ziesenhenne, Willie Agnew, Bill Lindsay, Rochelle Monk Cheryl Maier of Opportunity West and everyone else who contributed in many ways to the success of the event

Happy and Sad Dollars

All the dollars were Happy Dollars as all of the funds collected from the Silent Auction, the Live Auction and the Donations plus the net proceeds from the Wine Tasting and from the lunch go to the Richmond Rotary Peace Project. 

Raffle Results

No Raffle today, but someone did go home from event with a plant-filled urinal “obtained” during the auctions.



The History of Winehaven

Tom Butt

Our speaker was Richmond Rotarian Tom Butt and he presented a history of Winehaven. In 1907, the California Wine Association purchased a 47-acre parcel on the Bay in Richmond for their Winehaven Winery complex.  This followed the 1906 San Francisco earthquake when their magnificent headquarters building in South of Market in San Francisco burned to the ground.  The Wine Association chose the Richmond site because of its deep water harbor-frontage where ocean-going ships could easily moor and because the nearby Belt Railway made connections with the near-by Southern Pacific and the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroads.  At this location, grapes could arrive by barge, ship or rail from the California vineyards and wine and champagne could then be shipped across the country and around the world.  The building project began with the construction of the 29-room Winehaven Hotel. This was the scene of many a party and dance over the ensuing decade and the winery soon became a favorite tourist attraction along with the winery. The Wine Association initially invested $1 million along the Richmond shoreline. Between 1907 and 1909, several hundred workers were hired, including construction workers, laborers, bottlers and coopers to make the barrels. By 1911, twenty-nine family cottages were constructed on the hillside beyond the steam plant.  The Winemaster’s house was the largest cottage and it was near the top of the hill.  The enormous Red-brick turreted “Castle” was one of two huge wine making and warehouse buildings.  They were capable of holding 8 million gallons of wine and had 12 miles of passageways winding between huge redwood tanks and barrels.

Grapes were first pressed at the winery in 1909 and the winery shipped anywhere from 1,000 to 50,000 gallons of wine a day – tank cars, barrels and bottled goods. By 1919, Winehaven was producing 67 different wines for a total 12 million gallons a year.  The winery itself was worth $3 million at the time.  Shipping capacity was 500,000 gallons a month and 40 ships sailed for New York alone. San Francisco’s “cosmopolitan” population depended heavily upon Winehaven… requiring no less than 300 barrels daily.

When the Volstead Act/Prohibition was passed on October 28, 1919, Winehaven was caught with its warehouses filled to capacity -- an estimated 20 million gallons.  The winery could not economically provide the small quantity allowed for sacramental wines for the churches and the medicinal prescription wines for drug stores.  Winehaven tried to survive with a product called “CALWA Grape Juice” but even grape juice connoisseurs turned down their glasses.  It was no go. The new amendment to the constitution put more than 100 people out of work and so the winery closed.  The property was sold off parcel by parcel between the mid-1920s and the late 1930s. And so Winehaven came to an end – until World War II.

By 1941, the U.S. Navy had moved into Winehaven, annexing more than 350 surrounding acres. During the years the 50-plus years the Navy stated at Point Molate, they scooped out vast caverns in the hillsides for 20 concrete fuel tanks, some large enough to hold 2 million gallons of product. They laid some 20 miles of pipeline and installed air raid shelters underneath the winery building to support the families that lived at the base.  The Navy also constructed a new pier and finally removed the old one from the winery days.  The present pier is the one built in 1941.

By July 1, 1962, the Point Molate the Fuel Depot had undergone an extensive renovation.  Automated fuel handling systems had been installed and a $3.5 million project was completed which modernized the fuel pier.  A $1 million waste oil treatment plant was opened in 1975.  More than one million barrels of petroleum products were stored at Point Molate.

By 1990 the base had more than 20 tanks holding 1.2 million barrels of fuel, most were buried underground.  Eleven stored diesel fuel and the reminder stored jet fuels and other product. Bulk fuel was delivered into storage via pipelines from nearby refineries.  It was then transferred to ships and other Navy sites via pipeline, barge, tanker ship or truck.

The Navy was always a good neighbor. The Pacific Locomotive Association which was organized in 1962, worked with the Navy and Standard Oil to use 2 miles of track to Winehaven in 1969.  The historic trains operated on Sundays and entire families enjoyed their day together.  The locomotive association was able to establish a railroad museum and maintain shops at Point Castro.  They have since moved their equipment and operations down the Bay to Niles.

With the Department of Defense cost savings strategy of base closing, the Point Molate Fuel Depot at Winehaven was deemed as surplus and the Navy officially ended operations there on September 30, 1995.

The historic winery of Winehaven was officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 2, 1978.

Tom’s Power-Point Presentation and other displays around the room included many historic pictures of the pier, warehouses, winery buildings, the cottages and the Winehaven Hotel.

- Rotating Editor, Margaret S. Morkowski