Rather than pull up stakes, the company began a three-year, $10 million transition into still wine production that ended in 1999 with a brand-new winery called Artesa.
When Van Staaversen joined the company in 1996, Codorniu's owners presented him with a wish list of equipment and assigned him the task of redesigning the Codorniu Napa facility for small-lot, still wine production.
"Don had from January to July to convert the facility for still wine production," recalls winery spokesman Dan Gustafson.
Though 99% of Artesa's production is devoted to still wine, the winery still makes about 1,000 cases of sparkling wine each year.
"We're pretty excited about our still wine program," Donaldson says.
"I've been creating both sparkling and still wines throughout my career, most notably a 20,000 case still wine program with Chandon Australia.
In the last few years, many of California's sparkling wine producers added still wines to their production, and some re-invented themselves altogether.
"We received an enthusiastic response (to the still wines) immediately from distributors, retailers, restaurateurs and the press.
Despite the success of her still wines, Crane says the winery's bubbly business is still going strong.
According to Donaldson, adding still wines to Chandon's line of sparklers was a natural and easy process.
"In some ways, we already had quite a small, but vocal following (for our still wines)," Donaldson says.
Like Eileen Crane, Donaldson is proud of the success of his still wines, but stresses the importance of the sparklers.