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Relic Wine Cellars
Mar 15, 2014
The second tourism-oriented winery use permit to be approved on the road is the Relic Wine Cellars at 2400 Soda Canyon Road. Construction began in 2014.
This project is a new 20,000 gallon per year winery to be built in two phases, a winery building in phase 1 and cave in phase 2 as described in these Revised Conditions of Approval. The revisions to the use permit were based on a negotiated settlement of an appeal to the BOS of the planning commission approval, brought by neighbors in 2010. Prior to the beginning of construction in March of 2014 a Very Minor Modification to the use permit was given by the planning department to allow the cave and all parts of the project outside the winery building to be constructed in phase 1 and the winery building to become phase 2. The winery building will be built almost entirely under the crush pad cover currently in place.
Update 1/11/18On January 11, 2018, attorneys for opponents of Relic Winery appeared before the Appeals Board of the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) and requested that the visitation and on-site retail sales components of Relic's license be eliminated due to public safety concerns. Relic opponents do not oppose the operation of wine-making activities. Unfortunately, even after the Atlas Fire, the Appeals Board did not appear to be very sympathetic to protestants' concerns during the oral arguments, and it is anticipated that the Appeals Board will rubber stamp the ABC's decision to grant the license without restrictions. If this occurs, opponents of Relic Winery will have the option of appealing the decision to the Courts.
Update 12/7/17Due to the absence of one judge, a continuance of the appeal hearing to a date uncertain was asked for and granted.
Update 12/4/17On Apr 15th 2017 the Judge overseeing the hearings on the ABC licensing of Relic Wine Cellars issued a ruling against the residents protesting the granting of that license. The appeal of that decision will take place by the Alcoholic Beverage Control Appeals Board on December 7, 2017 at 9:00 a.m. at the Holiday Inn Sacramento Downtown location 300 J Street, Sacramento, CA 95814.
Update 7/17/15 After a full day of testimony the hearing was continued to be taken up in the fall. To my discomfort it was conducted more in the manner of a court trail than was the previous hearing attended on the Caves last year. It promises to be an equally lengthly process when it continues.
5/19/15 12 members of the Atlas Peak communities have written protest letters to the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control protesting the granting of a winegrower license to Relic Wine Cellars at 2400 Soda Canyon Road. Several are reproduced on the SCR Relic page. The ABC has scheduled a hearing so that the protests may be heard and a decision on their merits may be made. Only those that have submitted protest letters may speak, but all members of the community concerned about the continuing development of wine tasting rooms on Soda Canyon Road are encouraged to attend. The application is for a 02 Winegrower license.
My name is Bill Hocker and I reside at 3460 Soda Canyon Road.
I would like to take this opportunity while your attention is turned briefly toward Soda Canyon Road to express concerns that will be reiterated when you come to consider the Mountain Peak Project literally further up the road.
Relic Winery and the Caves at Soda Canyon are the two wineries that have been approved on our road since the loosening of tourism restriction in 2010. Both are on properties just over 10 acres in size. Both properties have no grapes and no residence. Both have steep winding one-land access drives with constricted access onto Soda Canyon Road. As wineries both are unnecessary. They have been built solely to offer tourist venues with views of the more remote rural areas of the county - at the expense of the residential community that the road serves.
The introduction of tourism into remote agricultural-residential areas does not serve the interest of maintaing the agricultural economy of the county. The vineyards that will supply them are currently supplying their grapes to other wineries. In fact, as I have argued before, the increasing equivalence of the terms "winery" and "event center", i.e. the increasing reliance on tourism as the economic engine of the county, will continue to subvert agriculture and wine production as the two compete for the same land, water, and in our case the same road, for their economic success. Tourism developments, and the developments necessary to accommodate the employees and tourist service industries, will always be able to pay more for those ever more valuable resources.
Nor will this type of tourist development increase the coffers of the county government. What fees and tax revenues are generated will be offset by the necessity of increased road maintenance, and services necessary to provide for the safety and welfare and accommodation of the general public and the employees that service them. Can governments really develop their way out of tight budgets? In our case the road needs improvement - and while it is bearable for agricultural and residential use, will need to be upgraded for daily commercial activity. Most of the intersections of the crossroads and watershed roads with the Trail and Hwy 29, as is the case with our road, already need signalization yet the county is reluctant to spend the money and to highlight a nasty truth - traffic lights are harbingers of the death of agriculture.
And, of course, the "quality of life" of the residents (I place it in quotes because of the dismissive attitude the county often takes when dealing with such NIMBY concerns) will degrade as the noise and light generated by these facilities, their traffic and night time operations cut into the noiseless, dark sky environment of our neighborhood. (The Caves have, in fact, been without electricity for over a year and the sound of their continuous generator has been a continuous annoyance to neighbors). The AP/AW zones of the county are not just agriculture. They are residential communities. These projects along with Mountain Peak represent only 3 of many hundreds of properties along Soda Canyon Road that may be developed into tourism facilities under the conditions allowed by the WDO. Tourism uses, with daily traffic flows, and public, night time activities, are incompatible with rural residential life. At some point, as these commercial developments proliferate along the road the residential community will die.
You have been charged, under the 1990 WDO, to consider the remoteness and accessibility of sites when considering winery projects. Tourism uses, with daily traffic and night time activities, extensive water and sanitation needs are incompatible with rural residential life. In the case of Relic and The Caves I think that this consideration was ignored. I would urge you, in light of this oversight to take special care for the ongoing concerns residents have toward these existing projects and to consider carefully the detrimental impacts tourism might present in the future to the remote rural areas of the county.
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
We are writing to oppose the granting of license #548261 to Relic Wine Cellars located at 2400 Soda Canyon Road, Napa, CA 94558. This is a country road with residences, and allowing on-site sales, tours and tastings at the winery will only increase vehicular traffic in what is already a dangerous traffic situation. Soda Canyon Road is significantly degraded and not up to current standards for the type of traffic it carries on a daily basis. This could lead to an eventual increase in the number of vehicular accidents. The issue of overall safety for neighbors, local vehicles, bicyclists, runners, pedestrians and children should take precedence over allowing expansion of the winery. There could also be an increase in the threat of wild land fires originating on or near the roadway due to increased traffic. Fires have started from the careless tossing of a cigarette butt to flat tires causing sparks in dry grass. The homeowners choose to live on Soda Canyon Road for the peace and quiet of the area. Their lives will be severely impacted due to the noise and safety issues that will arise if this license is granted. As residents of a rural neighborhood, we understand the threat to the quality of life and tranquility from vineyard/winery development encroaching more and more upon residential areas. Please do not grant this license.
On September 18 Amber Manfree sent us an email asking us to sign the protest forms for the Type 02 Alcohol and Beverage License applied for by Relic Winery. I have the good fortune to see and listen to the traffic that goes up and down the driveway to Relic from my once quiet deck. I have also lately had the unfortunate opportunity to be almost run off the road by truckers driving well over the center line at Soda Canyon's s-curves below Relic. I cannot say where the truck cam from but all I know is that the road is getting worse and worse and after the closure of Soda Canyon Road last week from a flipped truck I am more alarmed - we have some real concerns here that someone needs to address.
No one wants or expects to stop growth completely, and no one is talking about shutting down anyone who is already in business, but somewhere, sometime, someone has to stop and say "what are we doing here?" If studies are done that can show the aquifers can handle the sort of sort of growth and water consumption that all these new proposed wineries will demand, then fine - but do some studies. If we allow a large commercial business (or two) to open up shop on a what is a residential road without perhaps the county requiring them pay for road improvements - something is just simply wrong with the way things work. If we sit by and allow a just wait-and-see approach, then we may as well stop being American's and give up our right to think and question.
We are being asked to conserve water. Some of our wells are already drying up. Yet they will take our water and give it to a big conglomerate (not a local vineyard owner) and then no doubt raise our taxes to pay for water conservation.
We are being asked to drive up and down Soda Canyon Road with already treacherous conditions (narrow, winding, no turn outs, no shoulders, horrific potholes, loose rocks, etc) and expected to share what little we have with a large number of trucks and then additional visitors to these new wineries without requiring those new wineries to improve the road? No doubt when the road deteriorates further - our taxes will rise to pay for the improvements necessary. More importantly, someone is going to get killed.
We cannot allow Napa County Planning and Zoning to just continue to rubber stamp these projects without some consideration for the impact it has on not just our neighborhood - but the whole valley. It is us right now - but it will be other neighborhoods later. If they can do it to Atlas Peak and Soda Canyon and Yountville - then they can (AND WILL) do it, without conscience, anywhere in this valley.
Please take a few minutes to go back and pull out that email - and fill in the form and mail it Monday morning (or email too). Please - call your neighbors and friends and ask them to do the same.
[sent to Judy.Barrett@abc.ca.gov with hard copy followup]
Soda Canyon is a 7 mile long crooked rural dead end road that serves an agricultural and residential community. Beginning in 2010, following the meltdown of the high-end wine industry in the recession, Napa county began passing all winery applications submitted (save one) - a total of 70 new wineries and winery expansions to date - in a desperate attempt to revive the economy. (The economy revived even before the first was built.) No consideration was given to the unique circumstances of each application. Two of these wineries were on Soda Canyon Road. On minimum properties with no grapes and up steep access roads these wineries were designed solely to attract tourists for a view of rural Napa as part of their daily wine tastings and nighttime events - at the expense of the remoteness, quiet and dark rural life that residents enjoy. A few profiteers now affect the lives of hundreds of residents on the road, and each alcohol license you approve along the road only encourages more bars to come.
This winery location is 4 miles up the road. The road is hazardous. It has blind curves and rises, blind driveways, and a one-lane bridge. Because it is tortuous with a steep grade and quite untravelled it is used by cyclists. There are only two side roads so most residents must use it for jogging and dog walking. It is not a tourist route. It is not a road appropriate for a government-sanction alcohol consumption. The permitting of alcohol service on the road is potentially injurious to drinkers, visitors and residents alike. I urge you to deny this application in the interest of public safety.
This winery is located in a rural residential community in which quiet evenings and dark nights are an important aspect of life. Noises and light are much more noticeable at much greater distances than they would be in non-remote areas. The consumption of alcohol at parties in the evening and night has a direct impact on the rural character of the community and would interfere with the quiet enjoyment of their property by the residents of the area. I urge you to deny this application. If you do not deny the application in its entirety I urge you to restrict this application to regular daytime business hours.
I am emailing you to inform you that Relic Winery, located at 2400 Soda Canyon Road, has applied for a Type 02 Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) license. If granted, this license would permit on-site sales, tours and tastings at 2400 Soda Canyon Road. The license application information can be viewed on the ABC website: http://www.abc.ca.gov/datport/LQSData.asp?ID=81313087
As a concerned citizen and neighbor, you have a right to oppose the issuance of an ABC license to the applicant by e-mailing a protest to the ABC before SEPTEMBER 25th, 2014.
If you email your protest ABC in a timely manner (before 09/25/14) you must also mail hard copies of the two forms to be received by the Santa Rosa ABC office before October 3rd, 2014.
This mailing address is:
Attn: Judy Barrett
Alcohol Beverage Control
50 D Street, Room 130
Santa Rosa, CA 95404
If you prefer to send just a hard copy of your protest this must be received by the Santa Rosa office of the ABC before September 25th 2014.
Your neighbors who oppose the granting of this permit would greatly appreciate it if you would consider writing your letter of protest, in your own words, to show your support for our efforts to try to stop further degradation of what has already become a dangerous traffic situation on the roadway and our efforts to try to help mitigate the potential for wild land fires.
Some of the neighbors' concerns are that the issuance of this 02 Alcohol license will contribute to the following:
• A measurable increase in the traffic volume on Soda Canyon Road which is already significantly degraded and not up to contemporary standards for the type of traffic it carries on a daily basis.
• A material decrease in overall safety for neighbors vehicles, bicyclists, runners and pedestrians, particularly for our children and grandchildren.
• An eventual increase in the number of vehicular accidents.
• An increase in the threat of wild land fire originating on or near the roadway.
• A meaningful decrease in the quality of life and quiet enjoyment by owners of residential property, not only for our neighbors who live nearby 2400 Soda Canyon Road but, for all neighbors who live on or nearby the roadway and have to deal with the noise and safety issues of the already busy roadway on a daily basis.
If you oppose the granting of this license, you can exercise your right to file a written protest as described above.
Lodging a written protest does not require you to attend the public hearing, however attending the public hearing can be both informative and effective.
A personal written protest stating your opinion on the matter is required in order to be considered by ABC.
However, if you do want to attend the hearing, your written protest will ensure you can speak at the public hearing. Those of you who attended the Caves at Soda Canyon license hearing will remember that the Administrative Law Judge would not permit anyone but Ruth Walz to speak because she was the only neighbor who had written a protest.
Attending the hearing will also result a unique opportunity to learn more about some of the key issues that we face as actual residents of Soda Canyon, Loma Vista and Ridge Road. Many of us are increasingly concerned about preserving this naturally majestic setting that we have come to love as well as our peaceful, private way of life.
Thank you very much for taking the time to read this e-mail and thank you for considering this opportunity to exercise your right as a citizen and member of the community to oppose the issuance of this proposed Type 02 Alcohol license.
Confronted these 6 trucks in tandem this morning on the gravel road heading out to Krupp; tailings on the paved road. Is Krupp an approved site for dumping tailings? David, I knew you asked about this and got an "we don't know answer". They have a constant stream going all morning and it's now 1:00 PM and they are still trucking loads to Krupp. Of course, my keeptruckin ElD device is just the right tool in my truck for this job.