A Southern California family will be building a new 30,000-gallon winery on Silverado Trail south of Larkmead Lane after the Napa County Planning Commission signed off on its plans last week.
The winery had its use permit approved in 2002 for 20,000 gallons of production, but the Planning Commission approved the 10,000-gallon increase during its meeting Wednesday.
The Davis Estates property has several buildings on site, but only one will be incorporated into the winery plans, which also call for installing cave space.
Mike Davis told the commission that his goal is to move up to Napa Valley full time in 2015 as he transitions into retirement.
Davis has vineyards at the property, as well as additional plantings near Angwin and in Rutherford. His wines will be made entirely from Napa County grapes, he told the commission.
Davis said the property already has solar panels on site, as well as a windmill that generates electricity.
“It’s been our intent from day one, as we slowly grind away at retirement, to put in a winery,” Davis said. “We want to create a legacy for our next three, four, five generations.”
Commissioner Bob Fiddaman said he appreciated the fact that the winery will be a family-owned endeavor.
“I’m always happy to see a family show up and pursue their dream,” Fiddaman said.
Commissioner Mike Basayne expressed concerns with the winery’s marketing plans, saying its request for about 180 tours and tastings would put it on the high end of similarly sized wineries such as Larkmead Vineyards and Cosentino Winery.
Other commissioners said they shared that concern, as they’ve seen more small wineries pursue larger marketing plans as part of the push for more direct-to-consumer sales in Napa Valley.
Commissioner Matt Pope said that push raises questions of whether the plans remain true to the original intent of the Winery Definition Ordinance.
“This is part of an ongoing concern,” Pope said. “It increasingly puts us in a bind. Is it diluting the original intent?”
Fiddaman said he’s grown accustomed to seeing such requests, but he asked what the cumulative impact would be to Napa Valley if every winery pursued expansions to their marketing plans.
“I guess I’ve almost gotten used to it,” Fiddaman said. “I wasn’t bothered by it. I am concerned about what will happen in the future if everybody goes to this marketing model.”
Commission Chairman Terry Scott called the marketing plan “aggressive, but not unusually so.”
“Who knows what you will have to face if you come back to us in 15 or 20 years?” Scott asked. “The rules of the road will have changed.”