Bill Hocker | Jan 14, 2020 Update 1/13/20
Soda Springs 2004 visit
NVR 1/13/20: With Napa Soda Springs ruins for sale, could the 19th century resort be reborn?
As feared, the concept of turning Soda Canyon into a major Napa tourist attraction is being sanctioned by the county and promoted by local media. No doubt the realtors selling the property will cite the County's encouragement in their search for the right developer or plutocrat wishing to bring a couple hundred thousand more visitors each year, and a 100 more employees each day, into the county and up Soda Canyon Road.
I have not called too much attention on this site to the Napa Soda Springs ruins on Soda Canyon Road out of respect for the owner who's tried to keep a low profile to avoid incursions on to the property. But now the owner wants to sell and articles about the property are all over.
NVR 11/14/19: Historic Soda Springs resort property for sale northeast of Napa
SFChronicle 11/9/19: Wine Country rarity: Vast southern Napa properties go on sale
(more photos are available on the interactive Chronicle article here
NVR 12/1/19: 950-acre Napa ranch on market for $25.5 million
The Soda Springs property is significant to those of us on Soda Canyon Road because, given its legacy use, it can probably still be developed as a resort, dooming Soda Canyon Road residents to life as a tourist attraction, in addition to it's development as several vineyard estates and their potential wineries. It is disconcerting to see such an enchanted piece of land discussed in the sales babble of real estate agents: "A future owner will have an opportunity to customize the parcel sizes and locations to match their visions and creative stewardship." It is referred to as a "sanctuary opportunity" which seems to be realty-speak for a high-end gated estate property development (or maybe a Trump tax dodge investment). For certain, any development of the Soda Springs property will engender some resistance from those residents that have spent the last 6 years trying to defend their rural community against the commercial development of the road.
But there are greater issues about the sale of major pieces of Napa's landscape than just our local concerns. The two listings, Soda Springs and Green Valley Ranch, come in the wake of two similar sized properties being sold to the Napa and Sonoma County Land Trusts:
NVR 11/13/19: McCormick Ranch overlooking Napa Valley to be preserved as public open space
NVR 9/26/19: Land Trust of Napa County buys undeveloped 1,000-acre site near Chiles Valley
These two purchases, adding to the numerous lands in the county under conservation protections, promise that more of the natural beauty of Napa County will be enjoyed by future generations.
I suppose that there is always the danger of having too much of Napa's beautiful landscape being preserved for the enjoyment of future generations - but I doubt it. The Soda Springs and Green Valley properties are major opportunities to add to that heritage, and as the realtors emphasize, such large parcels don't come up very often. The Soda Springs property is significant because of its historical heritage ruins and because it touches the large Meade Ranch conservation area shown on the Land Trust map
. The Green Valley Ranch property is very significant given its connection to the Tuteur Ranch conservation easement and the potential for a connection to Skyline Wilderness Park and the proposed Bay Area Ridge Trail
Protecting these two properties from commercial development might provide some compensation for the sad loss of 2300 acres of pristine Napa county woodland to the Walt Ranch estate development project
. Such major undeveloped properties still remaining in the county should not be allowed to pass into developers' hands without some significant consideration to their value as protected natural heritage for future generations. Hopefully, the Land Trust, and all public and private groups interested in the conservation of Napa's natural heritage, will have their eyes on these properties as well.
After the fire 2017
More about Napa Soda Springs:
Winemerchant.com on Napa Soda Springs
Explore Napa Soda Springs page
Napa Historical Society Soda Springs page
Julia Wertz' photo chronicle of the ruins pre and post 2017