Cliff Lede Vineyards

The Napa County Planning Commission approved expansion at Cliff Lede Vineyards, seen here in October 2012. Carolyn Younger/Star file photo

Carolyn Younger/Star

Cliff Lede Vineyards near Yountville will be expanding its production for the second time in two years, after the Napa County Planning Commission approved a 40,000-gallon higher limit Wednesday.

The new production limit won’t require new construction and will only result in an additional two truck trips in and out of the winery each day, according to the applicant.

Because of this modest impact, the Planning Commission voted 4-0 in favor of the project. Commissioner Heather Phillips was absent.

The company received a prior approval in March 2012 for a 20,000-gallon expansion to 80,000 gallons annually. With Wednesday action, the winery will be allowed to produce 120,000 gallons annually.

Commissioner Bob Fiddaman asked county planning staff if the latest request drew any concerns from them. Staff said it had found it categorically exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act because it did not involve significant construction or impacts to the environment.

Fiddaman asked if it had been considered for a negative declaration, a document prepared following an initial study that shows the project won’t have significant impacts on the environment.

Principal Planner Sean Trippi said that staff had considered that option, but believe the project’s aspects — no new construction, no change to the marketing plan, and using its existing water supplies — didn’t warrant a negative declaration.

Fiddaman’s comments were a precursor to a hearing the Planning Commission will have Sept. 4 on the cumulative impacts of wineries continuing to seek expansions to their production and marketing plans.

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That meeting will have an hour-long presentation from Paul Mabray, the chief strategy officer of VinTank, and Michael Honig, president of Honig Vineyard and Winery, and subsequent discussion.

Planning Director Hillary Gitelman said she believed the improving economy is driving wineries’ pursuit of production expansions and larger marketing plans.

Commissioner Matt Pope said he was anticipating the discussion and the broader focus on wine industry issues in Napa County, without singling out one particular winery’s application.

“What we’re looking for is a broad policy solution,” Pope said. “I look forward to that discussion.”


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