Vincent Arroyo Winery near Calistoga is the latest winery to tell county officials it needs to increase its wine production, visitation and marketing events to thrive.
“We have always proclaimed we are farmers first and wine-makers second,” Matthew Moye of the winery told the county Planning Commission last week.
But, like other winery/vineyard operators in recent years, Moye described an economic landscape that requires visitors. He is son-in-law to winery founder Vincent Arroyo.
Vincent Arroyo Winery sells no wine through distributors or restaurants. All of its sales are direct-to-consumer.
Eighty percent of production is sold prior to bottling to 2,500 customers throughout the nation through the Futures wine club, Moye said.
That tied into the request to have more visitors. Moye said the Futures customers come to barrel taste their future orders.
“It’s hard to deny a customer who has already purchased wine to be able to come out and taste what is ultimately being shipped to them,” Moye said.
The Planning Commission approved increasing the by-appointment-only daily visitation cap from 30 to 50 people.
Moye also asked for more annual events than one with 130 people and one with 200 people. Wine events help show appreciation to existing customers and attract more buyers, he said.
“Events in moderation are important for the survival of small wineries like ourselves,” Moye said.
The Planning Commission approved allowing the winery to have one 100-person event, four 130-person events, three 200-person events and 12 20-person events.
Finally, the winery’s 1982 county permit allows it to produce 20,000 gallons of wine annually. Moye said that isn’t enough to use all of the grapes grown in 18 acres of vineyards.
“We’ve reluctantly had to sell the fruit to other Napa facilities,” Moye said.
The Planning Commission approved raising the annual production limit from 20,000 gallons to 70,000 gallons.
“This request is for an established family winery,” Commissioner Michael Basayne said.
Commissioner Anne Cottrell expressed concern because one access point to the winery, the Greenwood Avenue bridge, is closed due to damage from the 2014 South Napa earthquake. A county report said the historic bridge might not be fixed for another four to five years.
“Through no fault of the applicant, it is a dead-end road for the short-term,” she said.
Cottrell wanted to see a slight reduction in the requested visitor increase. The winery is in a busy rural area close to Calistoga and she is concerned about the intensity of use there, she said.
The Planning Commission voted 3-1 for all the Vincent Arroyo Winery requests. Commissioners Basayne, Jeri Gill and Terry Scott voted “yes” and Cottrell voted “no”. Commissioner Joelle Gallagher was absent.