Compatible Winery Ordinance
Bill Hocker | Sep 22, 2018
"To insure that the intensity of winery activities is appropriately scaled, the County considers the remoteness of the location and the amount of wine to be produced at a facility when reviewing use permit proposals, and endeavors to ensure a direct relationship between access constraints and on-site marketing and visitation programs"
As an addendum to changes made to the Winery Definition Ordinance in 2010 to allow more winery tourism, the BOS adopted some interpretive guidance, including the paragraph above, acknowledging that remote wineries need additional consideration when it comes to tourism activities.
At the BOS meeting on Tues Sep 25, 2018, Planning Director Morrison requested direction from the Supervisors on a possible ordinance which might give more specificity to the meaning of the remote winery guidance.
The staff letter regarding this issue.
NVR 9/28/18: Napa County scrutinizing surge of wineries off the beaten track
The issue of remoteness was central to our argument against the Mountain Peak winery proposed for our neighborhood at the end of Soda Canyon Road. Unfortunately, we failed to convince Planning Commissioners and Supervisors that hosting 14,000 people each year for food and drinks was a bad idea 6 miles up a winding dead end road. But as more and more wineries and winery expansions are proposed or approved in the watersheds, adding tens of thousands of visitors to other remote neighborhoods each year, and with some recent insight about the dangers of wildfires in remote areas, there seems to be a renewed desire to put some teeth into the interpretive guidance. Thank Goodness.
It appears that the Supervisors may want to generalize the nature of such an ordinance beyond just some metric of "remoteness", and they are leaning toward winery "compatibility", of which remoteness, accessibility, topography, road-standards (see the Caloyannidis letter), variances, and community acceptance and benefit might be factors.
To me, the concept of community acceptance really needs to be a part of the equation, because the "wine industry" is changing radically from wine-production based to wine-entertainment based. The impacts of real agriculture (the "right-to-farm" issues that property owners in Napa County acknowledge) in remote communities are part of living in rural Napa. The impacts of wine tourism, however, are intrusive and destructive of that rural character, and are at the heart of the resistance of residents to the approval of winery construction and the re-definition of "agriculture" to include tourism.
Removing visitation from winery proposals in remote locations will not only remove the conflict between residents and winemakers, but will help insure that wineries are appropriately sized and being built as needed processing facilities rather than expressions of vanity or a desire to create entertainment venues.
I would encourage the Supervisors to severely limit, or outright ban, visitation in any remote winery ordinance.
Video of 9/18/18 BOS meeting
Video of 10/16/18 BOS meeting
Transcript of 9/18/18 BOS discussion on remote wineries
Transcript of 10/16/18 BOS discussion on compatible wineries
NVR 10/21/18: Napa County continues remote winery discussion
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