SodaCanyonRoad | The intent of the ag preserve
 Share

The intent of the ag preserve


Bill Hocker | Oct 26, 2015 on: The WDO

Ross Workman LTE: Question: What's in it for Napa County?

Mr. Workman's editorial is an opportunity to read again the 2015 grand jury report on wineries.

The report is devoted predominantly to compliance issues raised by an industry that routinely seems to operate beyond the limits of its use permits, an appropriate subject for a grand jury to weigh in on. But recommendation 4 (it should have been #1 of the 5 recommendations) asks a much broader question; it asks the BOS to consider "whether the WDO as written provides the regulatory framework necessary to maintain a winery industry that is consistent with the Agriculture Preserve Ordinance".

The definition of agriculture and the WDO, as we have strived to document on this site, were modified in 2008 and 2010 to emphasize the marketing of wine equal in importance to the production of wine in the definition of agriculture and to expand the definition of the marketing of wine to include the more profitable tourist activities of food pairings (lunches and dinners) and marketing events (banquets and parties). It is a shift in the profit center that helps explain the continued proliferation of wineries despite the current existence of 6 times the permitted processing necessary to process the entire Napa grape crop. (The vanity of people with too much money also plays a part.)

And the intent of the Ag Preserve ordinance?: "The AP district classification is intended to be applied in the fertile valley and foothill areas of Napa County in which agriculture is and should continue to be the predominant land use, where uses incompatible to agriculture should be precluded and where the development of urban-type uses would be detrimental to the continuance of agriculture and the maintenance of open space which are economic and aesthetic attributes and assets of the county." (The corresponding AWOS intent is here.)

This intent, I would contend, is what Mr. Workman is speaking of when he asks what's in it for Napa county. How does a new winery support the intent of the ag preserve toward the continuance of agriculture and the maintenance of open space which are economic and aesthetic attributes and assets of the county. Mr. Workman obviously feels that the continuing proliferation of wineries in the ag preserve in the absence of processing need is in conflict with the intent of precluding "urban-type uses" upon which the Ag preserve was created - and so do I.