In 1880 Joshua Chauvet ran an ad in the Sonoma Index announcing that no more grain will be ground at his mill until after the annual grape harvest was in, and the grist mill was closed down completely soon afterwards as he shifted his attention to winemaking.

That year he sold 20,000 gallons of wine, but before he could sell the remaining 100,000 gallons the upper floor of the old mill collapsed and the rest of his wine was lost in Sonoma Creek. This is why Chauvet built a three-story stone cellar the following year, producing 130,000 gallons of wine.

The building was constructed of local stone by Chinese labor, and was considered to be an architectural marvel that indicated what could be expected of the Sonoma Valley's developing wine industry. The building remained an icon of the wine country landscape until 1983, when it collapsed.