Bill Hocker | Aug 30, 2014 on: Solutions
There are several thousand parcels of property in Napa County larger than the currently allowable 10 acre minimum for a winery in the AP, AR, and AW zones of the County. The County has the obligation to assume and to plan for complete buildout of all allowable parcels of a particular zoning, just as they would for residential or commercially zoned parcels. This potential buildout is shown on the NapaSonomaVoice map of potential winery sites in Napa County.
Several thousand parcels each with a winery and each with the incentive to fill thousands of tourism slots would create a level of development, requiring a degree of hotel, commercial, housing, road, water supply and sanitary sewer development that would go way beyond the the intent of the Napa General plan to maintain an agricultural based economy. Yet as the WDO is manipulated to allow more profitability at wineries this is just the result likely. The dependence of an invisible hand, i.e. reasonable economic development decisions based on economic self intrest, to control tourism winery development, relied on in the past, becomes fleeting when the development money is supplied by individuals who have amassed wealth elsewhere and now wish a winery-of-their-own at any cost. The parcels available for winery construction must be of a quantity that, at maximum buildout, the number of wineries is appropriate for the amount of grapes available.
A case could be made that at the very least, the minimum property size for a winery should also be the minimum size for property subdivision, i.e. 160 acres in AW zones and 40 acres in the AP and AR zones. Having a large minimum property size means that there is an incentive for wealthy investors to recombine smaller parcels, making agriculture more efficient and the impact of winery presence less obtrusive on the agricultural landscape.
Amber Manfree's map showing 40+ and 160+ acre parcels in the county is here