Davis Family Winery in St. Helena
on the web at: https://sodacanyonroad.org/forum.php?p=355
Geoff Ellsworth | Sep 16, 2014

[Sent to the St. Helena City Planning Commission]

I am out of town for the Planning Commission meeting this week but wanted to send this letter regarding the Davies Family Winery application.

This is difficult for me to write because I care very deeply about the applicants but I also care very deeply about the people who live in St. Helena who will have to live with the cumulative impacts of large scale projects like this.

This is not a small winery/tasting room with a few random visitors. This is a large scale winery/event center of over 26,000 square ft. that is asking for over 58,000 visitors a year in an already congested and over-impacted area.

How many events will there be a week/month? How will these large events affect circulation in our small town? How many employees from out of the area will be commuting in? Will the commercial kitchen compete with our local established restaurants?

The St. Helena Star must have printed a typo when it said 640 to 1,000 gallons a year will be used for wine production. A winery producing 75,000 gallons of wine will use a tremendous volume of water. Not to mention that 58,000 people means a lot of flushing toilets. We are in a severe drought if anybody needs to be reminded.

I wish nothing but success for the Davies family as they are friends and long established citizens of the valley but I must ask - are these large event center/wineries fair to the residents/citizen stakeholders of our town as these commercial endeavors cannot help but encroach upon our shared common resources such as roadways and water to serve their business model?

The citizen stakeholders/residents also have capital investments in our town. Part of that investment is based on Quality of Life.

As more and more large scale projects are approved up and down the valley, many citizens and industry voices, Andy Beckstoffer included, have stated that “the cumulative impacts will be devastating”.

We now have daily gridlock traffic due to increased volume of hospitality worker traffic driving up from Solano County. Has there been a discussion of new projects paying a wage that would allow for local people to take the jobs? Or does that challenge the margin?

Our present traffic situation is degrading the quality of life for many of our friends and neighbors. How does this gridlock traffic affect our emergency vehicle response times and evacuation plans?
And yet we add more.

The character of St. Helena and Napa Valley, as well as the health, welfare and safety of our residents is at stake in our current discussions of large winery/event center projects.

I urge those involved to re-consider the placement of projects of such large scale and scope. Perhaps there is a south valley/county location that would be better suited.

Leadership now in the wine community must acknowledge the valley/county is at a tipping point.

We are all familiar with the leadership in the 1960’s that led to the Napa County Ag Preserve. Now both on a county AND city level our roadways, water capabilities and general infrastructure cannot sustain this development surge.

The true leaders in the Napa Valley wine industry must step up and lead in a direction that doesn’t over-impact our precious, unique resource and encroach upon the quality of life of the citizen stakeholders.

Thank you

Geoff Ellsworth
St. Helena citizen.

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