Originally Published: December 27, 2015 1:21 a.m.
Pushing past the cobwebs and antique kitchen equipment stored in the basement of The Pine Cone Inn, partial owner and CEO of the soon-to-be reopened business Jeff Hardin pointed to a series of cabinets in the back of the dungeon-like space.
"Here they are," Hardin said.
Opening the cabinets, he unveiled rows and rows of dusty wine bottles - 238 to be exact.
Once a fine-dining restaurant, The Pine Cone Inn, 1245 White Spar Road, had been a source of food and entertainment starting in 1932.
Hardin has been part of a shared-ownership effort to revive The Pine Cone Inn to its original glory.
Leading the effort is the sole proprietor of the property and longtime resident and small business owner in Prescott Tony Ebarb.
Ebarb and his newly-formed band of collaborators have been renovating, cleaning and improving the space for nearly a year. In the process, they encountered the aforementioned mysterious cabinets, which were locked and had apparently not been opened in a very long time.
"Our outreach to previous owners was unsuccessful; they didn't know what was in there either," Hardin said.
Additionally, nobody knew where the key to the cabinets could be found.
Driven by curiosity, Hardin and his business partners hired a locksmith to see what they're dealing with.
"I thought it might be empty, but it could have been a dead body or something from the 1930s for all I knew," Hardin said.
Rather than discovering the remains of Jimmy Hoffa, they were pleasantly surprised to find a massive stash of wine dating back to the 1960s and '70s.
The oldest in the bunch is a 1961 Barton and Guestier Sauternes, a pink wine from France.
"In a few cases, the corks have slipped or are improper, but the majority of these wines are presumed to be viable," Hardin said.
The owners said they aren't entirely sure what they're going to do with all of the wine quite yet, but they may try to sell some of the more expensive bottles to private collectors.
Although still on the hunt for a couple of talented cooks to take on percentages of the overall ownership, the owners of what they have renamed simply The Pine Cone currently consist of Ebarb, Hardin, Bud Tyndale, who is serving as the music director, and Jonny Hardin, who is serving as the bar manager.
The group is aiming for an alcohol-free soft opening in either March or April and will be hosting a grand opening on May 26.
Follow Max Efrein on Twitter @mefrein. Reach him at 928-445-3333 ext. 1105, or 928-642-7864.