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Continuances beget continuances for Napa's Mountain Peak winery project
Wine Industry

Continuances beget continuances for Napa's Mountain Peak winery project


Napa County planners have entered new territory for continuing tough winery decisions.

The Planning Commission on Wednesday once again tackled the controversial, proposed Mountain Peak Winery in Soda Canyon. It sifted through various requests for a continuance, with opponents and proponents unable to agree on a date.

Finally, the commission continued its decision on a continuance, giving county staff until Nov. 2 to sort out everyone’s schedules.

“I’ve been disturbed by the abundance of continuances we have had with a number of our projects,” Commission Chairman Michael Basayne said. “This is a prime example of that.”

Mountain Peak Winery would be a 100,000-gallon-a-year winery with up to 320 visitors weekly at 3265 Soda Canyon Road. Some neighbors have objected to having a winery of this size located 6.1 miles down a narrow road that snakes up the canyon.

Continuances have been the order of the day for Mountain Peak. The commission continued the matter on July 20 because county planning staff wanted more time to review opponent comments received at and just prior to the hearing.

The next continuance request on Aug. 17 came from the applicant. Representative Donna Oldford said her team hadn’t finished reviewing 800 pages of materials submitted by opponents.

Oldford made the latest continuance request on Wednesday. She noted one commissioner was absent from the meeting and that the county had just received another 128 pages of correspondence from opponents that needed review.

Oldford asked for a continuance until Nov. 16. But project opponent and attorney Anthony Arger wrote to the county that he will be participating in a trial at the time and asked for a date on or after Dec. 19.

Project opponent Yeoryios Apallas evoked the “goose-gander rule” in having the county comply, given it had complied with requests from the proponents.

“What is good for the goose has to and must be applied for the good of the gander,” Apallas said.

Mountain Peak Winery officials wanted to stick with the Nov. 16 date. The dates suggested by Arger don’t work for her clients, Oldford said.

“We just don’t feel another three-month delay on this is really appropriate or reasonable…it’s just time to move on,” Oldford said.

Commissioners in their informal comments split 2-2 over whether to continue the matter until Nov. 16, as Oldford requested, creating a stalemate.

“I’m trying to find a way out of this,” Deputy Planning Director John McDowell said as commissioners laughed.

That led to the decision to take up continuance requests again on Nov. 2. Planning, Building and Environmental Services Director David Morrison said that would give staff time to try to coordinate everyone’s schedule.

“I feel like I’m walking out of Solomon’s court,” Apallas quipped after watching the commission deal with this latest Gordian knot of a winery challenge.

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Napa County Reporter

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

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