“It connoted something snobbish, which it really isn’t,” said Carl Myers, a retired general contractor who lives in St. Helena.
Wine is stored in caves around the world, and Mr. Hall noted that the Romans followed the practice. Storing wine underground saves money on climate control and humidification, said Jonathan Ruppert, the general manager of Gary’s Wine & Marketplace in St. Helena.
“Caves are a necessity,” Mr. Ruppert said. “It’s the green way to keep wine and preserve it for aging.”
Although the wine cave at Hall Wines is occasionally used for fund-raising events, it typically serves as a private tasting room. But the winery was closed on Friday for the employee Christmas party and, in a sign of the times, active-shooter training.
High-dollar donors have visited his wine cave, but Mr. Hall emphasized that his wineries do not sell a $900 bottle of wine — or, at least, not a regularly sized one. The $900 bottle they do sell is three liters, he said, which holds as much wine as about four normal bottles. Most of the company’s wines cost between $45 and $65.
Mr. Hall said he intended to support any Democratic nominee in the general election, but he admitted it would be hard to back Ms. Warren or Mr. Sanders.
“I hope I don’t face that question,” Mr. Hall said. “It may be difficult. But I really want to support whoever the nominee is, and I plan to, but there may be some holding my nose.”
Carol Pogash reported from Rutherford, and Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs from New York.