Grassi Family Winery has won Napa County’s blessings to be built along Soda Canyon Road northeast of the city of Napa.
The winery will be located on 10 acres near Silverado Trail. It will be able to produce up to 25,000 gallons of wine annually, have up to 70 visitors a week and have three marketing events annually.
“This is about as straightforward as a small family winery can be,” consultant Donna Oldford said on behalf of Grassi at last week’s hearing.
Mark Grassi said he moved to the Napa Valley in 1980. In 1989, he started a construction company that built wineries, restaurants and homes. His family has lived on Soda Canyon Road for almost 20 years, has grown grapes there for 15 years and made wine at a custom crush facility for 10 years.
Now the family wants to take the next step and have a winery of its own.
“It’s important for us that it’s a nice winery because we live on the property,” Grassi said.
The Soda Canyon Road community has proven it can rally against a winery project that residents there find objectionable. The most recent example is when residents showed up in droves earlier this year to oppose the proposed Mountain Peak Winery.
Some Soda Canyon Road area residents at the Grassi hearing were concerned about the cumulative impact of adding traffic to narrow, rural Soda Canyon Road winery-by-winery. Still, they didn’t oppose the Grassi proposal as a stand-alone project.
“It’s what we need here in Napa Valley,” resident David Hallett said. “We need small family wineries, families living on the site.”
Harvest Duhig, who doesn’t live on Soda Canyon Road, agreed that the Grassi winery proposal is good. But she disagreed that Napa County is approving too many projects without proper consideration. The rule that new wine production must use at least 75 percent Napa grapes will limit growth, she said.
“If we don’t have the production, sale and marketing of wine, how are we to preserve agriculture?” she said.
Planning Commissioner Terry Scott said he’s pleased and satisfied that the Grassi proposal is sensitive to the traffic and safety concerns of the Soda Canyon neighbors.
Commissioner Anne Cottrell said the Grassi project is of appropriate size and scope. She praised efforts to maintain oaks on the site.
Commissioner Jeri Gill said she’s seen more smaller winery projects over the last year and a half than larger ones. That gives her hope Napa County is on track to allow the small producers to own wineries, to create a business and to raise a family locally.
The commission approved the project by a 4-0 vote, with one seat on the five-person commission vacant.