Relic Wine Cellars, located at 2400 Soda Canyon Road, Napa, CA 94558
Traffic and Safety
Relic Wine Cellars ("Relic") poses a serious safety risk to the public welfare stemming from both traffic accidents and fire danger. My family owns a home and small vineyard at the very end of Soda Canyon Road that we have owned since 1998. Our home is approx. 6.2 miles up Soda Canyon Rd., while Relic is approx. 4 miles up the road. Importantly, there is only ONE, two-lane road that every resident and visitor must use, which is steep, curvy, dark, and in dire need of repair. Large trucks from larger vineyard operations past the Relic Winery site already fill this road on a daily basis to the point that it is very unsafe to bike, walk, or run on this road, something I used to do regularly. In fact, earlier this month, on September 10, 2014, a big rig truck overturned at the 2700 block of Soda Canyon and entirely blocked the road for 4 hours with no ingress or egress available to any resident living above the accident. Had there been an existing fire, or one caused by this truck, all residents would have had no means to exit.
On page 20 of the Napa County Grand Jury 2007-2008 Final Report on the Napa County Fire Department, it is stated that the “Soda Canyon Volunteer Fire Department service area has the second highest rate of emergency incidents in Napa County” with 594 incidents during a 24 month period (see pages 20, 23 and 31 of that report). This report was made seven years ago. Traffic has increased dramatically on the road since that time and I can only assume that incidents have continued to increase. In fact, I have also attached a print-out from January 2013 to March 2014 from the California Highway Patrol (“CHP”) for incidents on Soda Canyon Road. You will see the incredible number of traffic accidents and DUIs that have occurred on Soda Canyon road during this recent 14 month period. The incidents in this report are frightening now. One can easily imagine what will happen if Relic Wine Cellars visitors are encouraged to drive up and down 4 miles of this ~6.5 mile, steep, poorly lit, curvy road both during and after daylight hours.
In short, Soda Canyon Road is a high incident area and is only going to become worse if Relic Wine Cellars is issued an alcoholic liquor license. To allow this winery to host tasting events, all of which will involve the consumption of alcoholic beverages, during the day and sometimes late into the night will surely end in numerous tragedies to visitors and residents alike. The road is pitch black at night with virtually no public lamp-posts, steep, full of hairpin curves, and has innumerable wild animals that run across the road both during the day, and especially at night. The observation of wildlife on or near the road is an expectation for residents, not an exception, especially at night. And most of the time, these animals are deer, which can easily cause a major traffic accident. The thought of this winery being issued a liquor license is truly disturbing for residents and non-residents alike.
California is in the midst of devastating drought and fire conditions are at their worst in years. Cal Fire has rated Soda Canyon Road as a “high fire danger zone,” as numerous fires have occurred on Soda Canyon over the past several years. Again, there is only one way in and out of Soda Canyon. If a fire is caused by an overturned truck coming from Relic Wine Cellars or visitor who carelessly flicks a cigarette butt out the window, the consequences could be truly devastating and even deadly to many residents on Soda Canyon Road. It is my understanding that Soda Canyon Road already has an average of two fires per year. If this license is granted, the increased risk for additional fires increases dramatically.
In closing, I would like to point out that my family is part of the wine industry. Up until December 2013,we owned a small family winery in St. Helena and still operate vineyards at the top of Soda Canyon Road,the grapes from which are sold to other Napa wineries. We are not against the wine industry, we are part of it. However, Soda Canyon Road is not a place for a tasting room serving alcohol to its guests. As demonstrated by the above traffic and fire safety concerns, it is without question that the issuance of an alcoholic liquor license to Relic will adversely affect the public welfare of Soda Canyon residents. I kindly request that your agency deny the liquor license application for Relic Wine Cellars, LLC.
Thank you for taking time to review my concerns.
Anthony G. Arger