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Stan Boyd broke what amounts to a Napa County drought for new winery approvals.

He won approval from the county Planning Commission last week to build Boyd Family Vineyards Winery along Big Ranch Road just east of the city of Napa. That’s the first new winery approved since Nov. 15, though the commission has allowed several existing wineries to expand.

The commission approved 10 new wineries in 2017 and 11 in 2016. All of this made last Wednesday’s meeting seem like old times.

Boyd bought the 21-acre property at 4042 Big Ranch Road near Salvador Avenue in 1998. Boyd Family Vineyards presently uses grapes grown there to produce wine made at a nearby winery.

“I guess after 20 years I stand here before you and I’m ready to take (on) the next chapter,” Boyd told commissioners.

His new winery would produce up to 30,000 gallons annually. It would have 2,080 tasting room visitors annually and 400 marketing event visitors annually for a total of 2,480 annual visitors. Napa County planners consider this a small winery.

Commissioners quickly granted approval.

“This winery is the appropriate size in the appropriate location at the appropriate time,” Commissioner Terry Scott said.

One request by Boyd Family Vineyards had potential for controversy—the winery’s preference to store, and later truck off, winery wastewater. Given that the Napa Sanitation District plant can’t handle winery wastewater, it is to be trucked to the East Bay Municipal Utility District plant in Oakland.

Boyd Family Vineyards would hardly be alone. Napa Sanitation District estimated in a 2014 report that Napa County wineries ship 11 million gallons annually of wash water, grape skins and other waste to East Bay MUD, or 1,700 truckloads.

But the alternative in his case, Boyd said, is creating an onsite wastewater system that would mean using three acres of vineyards for a leach field. He didn’t want to lose the vines.

“If we’re forced to do it, of course, we would do it,” Boyd told commissioners.

Consultant George Monteverdi portrayed the new winery as being a local truck-traffic winner for the county, even with a hold-and-haul wastewater system. That’s because having a winery at Boyd Family Vineyards will mean grapes don’t have to be trucked offsite.

He estimated the amount of grape-hauling trips removed will be four to five times the amount of winery wastewater-hauling trips gained.

Boyd previously won county Planning Commission approval for a winery on the property in 2005, though he let the approval lapse for what he called “a variety of personal reasons.” Scott is the only person still on the commission who participated in that original decision.

“It was an attractive project at that time,” Scott said. “I find it more attractive now.”

The commission has considered only one other new winery application since November. On April 18, it turned down the proposed Mount Veeder winery, leaving the Boyd winery as the only approval.

This relative dearth of new winery applications isn’t a trend. County Supervising Planner Charlene Gallina said the county is processing 13 applications for new wineries, as well as 22 for modifications to existing wineries.

“It’s a lull,” Gallina said, adding the Planning Commission should have three new winery applications coming in August and one – so far – in September.

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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.