News Roundup: Uniting Legends

Sterling Vineyards to Debut New Gondola in 2023

The one-of-a-kind gondola at a California winery will not run again, Sterling Vineyards has announced. The 1972 Hall installation, which travels in a triangle alignment, was closed in 2020 due to Covid and subsequently damaged by a wildfire. In its place, Sterling and Doppelmayr USA will partner to construct a detachable eight place gondola running in a similar historic alignment. “Over the past twelve months, our team has been working diligently to safely assess and stabilize the property and fully scope this major project,” the company wrote. “We are excited to share that we are now moving into reconstructing the winery in preparation of a re-opening in Spring 2023.”

“After careful assessment, it was determined that our beloved and historic Aerial Tram must be replaced,” the statement continued. “The Aerial Tram has been, and will continue to be, central to our visitor experience, as well as an iconic feature of the winery. We anticipate a full year of hard work ahead of us, to bring this special property back to you safely and beautifully.”

The new lift will be as modern as the old one was quaint, becoming the first D-Line lift in California and featuring Omega V cabins from CWA. The one way journey will remain similar with three stations and drive/tensioning systems located at the valley station. There will of course still be a glass of wine waiting for each rider at the first angle station. “We welcome you to join us behind the scenes as we give you sneak peeks through photos and videos of the site during construction and watch Sterling Vineyards literally rise from the ashes, regaining its historic splendor, and bouncing back to once again be one of the most visited sites in the Napa Valley.”

News Roundup: Moving Parts

In California, Parks & Zoos Wow with Gondolas

IMG_3472
Oakland Zoo stepped up its game this year, building a major expansion accessed exclusively by gondola, one of many across California.

From flying over bison to coasting through redwood forests, wine tasting and beach cruising, visitors to California can do it all by gondola even when far from ski country.  In every major region of the vast California Republic, gondolas greet more than 250 million annual tourists, providing unique experiences and spectacular views in one of America’s most diverse states.

California Trail – Oakland Zoo

California’s newest gondola debuted at the Oakland Zoo in June, whisking guests on a three minute safari to an $80 million experience called California Trail, which features animals native to the Golden State.  In some ways this is America’s first urban gondola with the top terminal located in the basement of a combination transit station, restaurant and visitor center.  The Doppelmayr UNI-G system sports 17 cabins that can move 1,000 guests each hour between California Station and the new hub for wolves, bears and mountain lions.  Even though the exhibits don’t open until next year, the gondola is already so popular that the zoo’s chairlift rarely runs anymore as guests binge-ride the California Trail lap after lap.

Skyfari – San Diego Zoo

The VonRoll-built Skyfari is a big reason why the San Diego Zoo grew to become the most-visited zoo in America.  Since 1969, 42 four-passenger cabins have transported some 75 million riders from the east side of the park to the west.  Today, the Skyfari operates more than 3,300 hours a year and an impressive 60 percent of zoo guests choose to take the ride, making it by far the most-ridden gondola in this most populous state.  The lift’s four towers reach up to 89 feet, yielding zoogoers spectacular views of their surroundings and downtown San Diego.  Now presented by Alaska Airlines, the ride is impeccably maintained and features updated Doppelmayr controls and automated cabin launching.  Just based on ridership, I wouldn’t be surprised to see it replaced with a modern system with more capacity in the coming years.

Continue reading