SodaCanyonRoad | Water for wineries in the pipeline
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Water for wineries in the pipeline


George Caloyannidis | Dec 4, 2015 on: Watershed Issues

Below is an email to County Planning Director David Morrison 12/4/15 in response the revision sent to the BOS and PC of numbers Dir. Morrison presented to WICC in Nov. The updated numbers show that:

  • There are 51 total pending winery applications currently in process;
  • Of the 51 applications, 29 are for new wineries and 22 are for major modifications;
  • The proposals request a total of 2.9 million gallons of new wine production;
  • A total of 567,000 new tasting room visitors are proposed;
  • A total of 110,000 new marketing visitors are also proposed.
  • There are several clusters of pending wineries, generally located near Calistoga, Pritchard Hill, Yountville, and Soda Canyon.


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Dear David:

During the second APAC meeting, I testified that its work ought to begin with a comprehensive review of overall data and that such data be used as the basis for setting its agenda. Although you had presented many of these data at the March 10 town hall meeting, this did not happen.

I am most appreciative of the fact that you now have begun assembling such data on pending application as the ones below. What is now needed is the generation of a second tier of data derived from them which is something I hope you will undertake before the APAC deliberations by the Supervisors are concluded if their decisions are to be based on facts rather than on the agendas of a variety of factions and special interests..

Below I will address just one such process and that is the availability of plantable land and demands of water if the pending applications are approved:

Using the 2.9 million gallons in new production, the applicable 75% rule and a grape yield of 2.5 tons per hillside acre, the acreage which will be required in the Napa valley to satisfy this production is 6,000. I use hillside acre numbers because as we all know, all valley floor acreage has been utilized already. As all grapes grown in the Napa valley are being utilized under current production, there is no doubt that that acreage will be required. As a matter of fact, several thousand additional acres will be required if the unutilized existing use permit production numbers are to come on line. As an example, the Summers winery which produces 32,000 gallons on a use permit of 50,000 gallons is seeking approval for 100,000 gallons.

In order to, determine the amount of water which will be required, for the 2.9 million gallons, we need to calculate it by separating production from vineyards:
6 gallons of water per gallon of production results in 17.4 million gallons of water in the winery, plus 2.2 million gallons in vineyard irrigation at the rate of 110 gallons of water, equals 242 million gallons for a total of 260 million gallons of water.

These staggering numbers are for pending applications only. They are plainly unimaginable going forward even just 5 or 10 years.

A further derivative analysis APAC should have made regarding future water requirements and traffic impacts from the 677,000 visitors and workers (commuters) as well as new hotel accommodations to house the visitors who typically require 2 employees (commuters) per room and generate 12-15 vehicle trips per day per room is imperative if we want to begin to have a serious picture of water requirements and traffic impacts in the immediate future and under current County approval practices. We are looking at perhaps as many as an additional 30 - 50 million gallons of water and staggering traffic numbers.

The above figures alone make it abundantly clear that the APAC recommendations even if all were to be approved, will have no effect on stemming the enormous forces which are on a course to strain the Napa valley resources to the brink. It is time for the Supervisors to face the real challenges by engaging in a new policy model based on numbers as you have laid them out and their derivatives.

Once again, we are talking here of pending applications alone!

George Caloyannidis