SodaCanyonRoad | Duckhorn Winery Expansion

Duckhorn Winery Expansion
Bill Hocker | Apr 10, 2024 on: The Winery Glut

Ag Land paved over for the project

Update 4/10/24
SF Chronicle 4/10/24: How a small rural California road became the latest wine battleground in Napa Valley (text version)

We can only hope that there will be enough residents impacted by the barrage of projects like this and The Inn at the Abbey who demand that the county stop permitting tourism buildings on land zoned for agriculture and vote as such. Tourism is not agriculture. The policies that conflate the two need to be reversed.

Update 11/6/23
The Duckhorn Winery Appeal due to be heard on 11/7/23 has been continued to a date uncertain - a change in scope of the project is being considered by the applicant.
Agenda Letter

Update 9/13/23
Sculatti LTE 9/13/23: Duckhorn project threatens the viability of the Ag Preserve

Update 9/1/23
An Appeal of the Planning Commission approval has been made by neighbors and Water Audit California and has been scheduled by the BOS for Nov 7, 2023.
Appeal notice and continuance

John Murphy LTE 9/1/23: The siege of Lodi Lane


Adding to the AP urbanization
Video of 5/3/23 PC meeting
Staff Agenda Letter for 5/3/23 presentation
NVR 5/4/23: Big Duckhorn winery growth plans win Napa County approval

140,000 more gal/yr, 51,014 more vis/yr, new 58,000 sf production and storage building, doubling the size of the visitor center, 28 more parking spaces, home demolition, 3.55 acres of vines removed. 44 trees removed, road exception, adding to road setback encroachments, 4 large water tanks, waste water line under the Napa River!
Staff Letter (a long read)
Neighbor Comments

This was the first decision of the post election Planning Commission, and frankly I was stunned. And disappointed. The vote among the three participating commissioners, Dave Whitmer, Megan Dameron and returning Commissioner Heather Phillips was 3-0 to approve with almost no discussion and no interest in reducing the scale of such a behemoth (for Napa Valley) and intrusive project. It seemed like unblinking aquiescense to the power of the corporate conglomerates that have taken over the wine production and wine entertainment industries in the county. This decision bodes ill for Treasury's re-submission of the Benjamin Ranch winery proposal when/if it comes. A new era of mega-wineries dawns as corporations seek to turn the county into the Las Vegas of Wine.

Particularly galling is the paving over of prime agricultural land for a new production building, parking lots and roadways. The urbanization of the ag preserve didn't seem to be on the radar of this Planning Commission in this project, which dispels a lot of the hope I had for a new direction in the maintenance of the county's natural resources in the age of global warming and of a balance between the concerns of residents to maintain their rural heritage and corporate interests to exploit that character into oblivion.

Where to begin on a project that pushes so many negative butttons. The first is that major 58,000sf wine processing and storage facility is being proposed to be built from scratch on an area in the center of the Ag Preserve that is currently planted to vines. With the creation of the new combined parcel, the massive production building and expanded visitor center are 24.8% of the 25% allowable development area under the WDO. Looking at the plot plan of the impermeable surface, it actually apprears that more than 25% of the property is covered. And it should be noted that a part of the 75% is the un-developable bank of the Napa river, so the amount of developable land being covered is well above 25%. The processing facility which will, no doubt, serve the numerous corporate brands well beyond this site should have been built in the airport industrial area. But then, of course, the visitor center wouldn't have been allowed to double in size. And tourism is now the heart of wine industry growth.

As is common now with projects, maintaining existing water usage while expanding production and visitation is achieved by sewage treatment plants and gargantuan water tanks, and by replacing water consumptive vineyards with less water-consumptive buildings. (Note that reducing water consumption by eliminating vines is not a good strategy for maintaining an agricultural economy, yet it is now done in almost every winery project.) But the existing usage is already 50% higher than is allowed under county standards. The project should have been required to reduce water usage to that standard. The intuitive question, however, is can you really process 140,000 more gallons of wine and 51,000 more visitors and not increase water use? Consultants can massage the numbers for an approval, but no one monitors the reality over time which is why more water than allowed is being used now.