Gargiulo winery barrel building

This photograph was listed in a county report as an "inspiration photo" for the type of barrel building Gargiulo Vineyards winery wants to build east of Oakville.

Courtesy of Napa County

Gargiulo Vineyards winery will build a stealthy, new barrel building that is largely underground and has a roof looking like a small, sod-covered pyramid.

The application for the 3,130-square-foot project lists a Midwestern root cellar as the inspiration. Walls will have insulated panels covered by about a foot of earth seeded with native grasses.

“This design is something I believe is really an example to be set to other people who look to expand their wineries,” Gargiulo representative George Monteverdi said.

The Napa County Planning Commission quickly granted its approval.

“We need a little of the Midwest here in Napa Valley,” Commissioner Joelle Gallagher said with a smile at Wednesday’s hearing. “I really like the design.”

Gargiulo Vineyards is located on 12.7 acres at 545 Oakville Cross Road. The winery’s requests avoided the usual, potential conflict points of more production and visitation. Gargiulo will remain a 20,000-gallon-a-year winery with up to 10 daily visitors.

Monteverdi said what the county calls a major use permit modification in this case is really a “modest modification.”

“There’s no removal of vineyards,” he said. “There’s no grading on undisturbed slopes. There would be very minor impact to localized trees and vegetation.”

Existing vegetation and the natural topography will block the view of the barrel building roof from Oakville Cross Road or any other public right-of-way, a county report said.

Commissioners praised the barrel building proposal.

“It’s functional,” Commissioner Anne Cottrell said. “It is a creative solution that preserves that open space and ag landscape that is so important in the county and to this parcel in particular.”

Commissioner Terry Scott complimented the winery for making efforts to preserve oaks on the knoll.

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Commission Chair Jeri Hansen – who previously went by the last name of Gill – praised the project for being energy efficient, well-designed and blending into the landscape.

“High benefits, low impacts,” she said.

Commissioner Michael Basayne said the design is subtle, functional and quite attractive. Gargiulo Vineyards has indeed made a modest request, he said.

Gargiulo Vineyards also won permission to use 300 square feet in the planned barrel cellar for occasional marketing and tasting activities. It can extend its covered crush pad by 843 square feet.

The Planning Commission initially approved the Gargiulo winery in 2002. The winery is operated by Jeff and Valerie Gargiulo.

Also on Wednesday, the commission elected its officers for 2018. Cottrell will be chair and Scott will be vice-chair.

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Napa County Reporter

Barry Eberling covers Napa County government, transportation, the environment and general assignments. He was worked for the Napa Valley Register since fall 2014 and previously worked 27 years for the Daily Republic of Fairfield. He is a graduate of UC Sa