SodaCanyonRoad | Open letter to the Supes, Commissioners and Planners

Open letter to the Supes, Commissioners and Planners

Bill Hocker | Jan 20, 2015 on: Girard Winery

I know this will seem like I'm just wasting everyone's time, and I agree with Supervisor Dillon that the big picture issues aren't going to be resolved through individual projects, and I know that I have no standing in the Girard project. But since I learned last March of a project proposed in my backyard I lie awake at night, every night, thinking about these issues. Writing these letters helps.

    "Napa County is one of the smallest counties in California and within the County areas suitable for quality vineyards are limited and irreplaceable. Any project that directly or indirectly results in the removal of existing or potential vineyard land from use depletes the inventory of such land forever."
    - From the 1990 WDO

I ask your indulgence for a moment to please take a look at the Girard Vineyard on Google maps by clicking here:

Given the propitious placement of the ponds, the vineyard is a perfect rectangle. It is almost an archetypal piece of agricultural land. But now imagine the Girard Winery, about the size of the Clos Pegase winery development area, located right in the middle of it.

Now zoom out a bit on the map and imagine a similar winery in the middle of every vineyard plot in the vicinity, including perhaps those nice rectangles on Larkmead Lane, another area of concern this week. Continue to mouse down through the entire length of the valley and imagine a winery on every empty vineyard you see. And then roam around the splotches of deforestation throughout the hills and imagine a similar winery on every splotch.

Is this the best way to protect agriculture? Is this what you want the Napa Valley to become?

The owner of the Girard vineyard has other properties already occupied by winery buildings, including the one across the street. Other developers are also coming before you seeking their 2nd or 3rd winery. Let them expand their existing wineries to increase capacity. I mean, what reason is there to build a winery other than to provide winemaking capacity? It would be a much more efficient use of the limited and irreplaceable land than the development of new facilities on undeveloped land. Please, begin here and let this plot, and all other plots in the county that have yet to be compromised by development, remain devoted purely to agriculture (in its pre-WDO definition) . If the intentions that led to the creation of the ag preserve cannot protect this virgin field from development then the ag preserve is meaningless.

Bill Hocker