|Dec 1, 2014|
NVR 11/29/18: Girard Winery opens in Calistoga
In the rarest of examples, the project was turned down by a 2-2 vote of the Planning Commission in Oct of 2015. The project was brought to the Board of Supervisors on appeal in March of 2016 and the appeal was sustained meaning the project was approved after all.
Original post 12/1/14
Another large winery has cleared the county planning department and is coming up before the planning commission on December 17th (now Aug 19th, 2015). It is the Girard Winery, 200,000 gal/yr, 30,000 visitors/yr on Dunaweal Lane just east of Calistoga. It raises most of the regular issues: The 250 acres of grapes it will process are already being processed in other valley wineries so where is the need? What is the impact of another 50 cars going up and down the valley each day or of 90 - 200 arriving and leaving evening events. Where will the 200 cars park? How does the county keep justifying the permanent removal of vineyard land from the valley to accommodate these projects. (Note the opening WDO quotes here.). And, perhaps more mournfully, why despoil such a beautiful rectangle of prime agricultural land with another warehouse pretending to be a castle? It breaks the heart.
Clos Pegase across the lane belongs to the same owner, which might explain the unusual lack of food service requested in the proposal. It is not hard to envision all of the Clos Pegase production moving to the new building and its famous architectural nonsense becoming the food center for the two brands. It is a relief not to see the innocent "which may include food paring" tucked into this tours and tastings request. (My food service rant is here.) Why not let the tourists continue to come to the monument. Put the 200,000 gal/yr down at the airport.
The owner is Vintage Wine Estates with a collection of 9 "family" wineries in their portfolio. The actual families are probably gone. It seems that "family winery" has become a marketing term, just as the art of winemaking has been replaced by marketing hype (and marketing events). I know - very cynical. We want the industry to be what it was, where the rewards are in the pleasure and pride of the craft and modest profits follow. But the allure of the good life promoted in the valley attracts those used to making money with their money, used to competing, and for whom ever increasing profits are a basis of self esteem. In a letter-to-the-editor I questioned the need to make tourism profits, with the attendant impacts on the rest of us, on top of the profits to be made from grapes and wine. In America, the developer responded, there is not a cap on money to be made.
And there is indeed a great deal of money to be made from the open space and foregone profits of these last 45 years in Napa county. Now comes the cashing-in. A pro-development Board of Supervisors for more than a decade has greased the skids of a development industry now realizing large resorts in the north and small cities in the south and wineries filling up the valley floor. The most remote corners of the watersheds are now being proposed as housing estates and wine-tourism attractions. While the traffic generated from previous development is now a constant irritation, we are just at the beginning of this new development cycle, and its traffic has yet to arrive.
The Girard Winery is one of 40 or so winery projects now being reviewed by the county. Since 2010 roughly 70 new wineries or winery enlargements have already been approved, most with the intent to increase profits through tourist traffic. Few so far have been built, so their visual impact has yet to be seen and the traffic impacts from their hundreds of employees and thousands of tourist slots yet to be felt. More proposals will follow. The valley is changing so fast into a vineyard theme-park that many, more cynical than I, have already given up on the idea of maintaining a rural, agricultural community. You can't stop the inevitable says one of my neighbors. The best we can hope for are vines around the parking lots. He may be right. But the county as it exists now still has a quality-of-life that sets it apart from Bay Area sprawl. It is worth fighting to preserve it, an obligation really for those of us who cherish it, even if the odds seem long.
3/8/16: Supervisors Appeal agenda (item 9B)
Caloyannidis Hearing Comment 10/21/15
Revised Initial checklist (7/14/15)
Agenda Documents (item 9B)
Use Permit Application
8/18/15: Tofanelli - SMW letter challenging ND
NVR 11/29/18: Girard Winery opens in Calistoga
NVR 3/10/16: Supervisors back proposed Girard Winery
NVR 10/21/15: Deadlocked commission denies approval for Girard winery
NVR before the continuance: Proposed Girard Winery returns to Planning Commission
Vintage Wine Estates Buys Shrem’s Napa Winery Clos Pegase
Citing political climate, Planning Commission delays Girard Winery vote
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