Maxville Lake Winery obtained only a portion of the growth rights it requested from Napa County, with dissenters saying it had too aggressive of a vision for a faraway location.
The winery is located at 4105 Chiles Pope Valley Rd. in Chiles Valley, which is to the east of Napa Valley. The owners said they can handle more wine production and visitors by doing some remodeling, but not expanding the building.
“We want to enhance the image of Chiles Valley,” consultant Jeffrey Redding said on behalf of the Koko Nor Corp.
The Napa County Planning Commission on Aug. 1 balked at the growth requests, given the remoteness of the winery. On Wednesday, Koko Nor Corp. came back with revised requests that the commission revised still further.
Maxville Lake Winery’s revised request asked to increase annual wine production from 59,000 gallons to 155,000 gallons through 2024. Then, after planting 49 acres of additional vineyards, it would up the number to 225,000 gallons.
“All wineries ... plan for future expansion,” Redding said on behalf of the applicant. “And that’s what we’re doing. We’re perhaps more candid than some of your other clients, but we need room to grow.”
The Planning Commission granted an increase to 165,000 gallons annually. It decided a further jump would be up to another commission in another year, given the uncertainties of the future.
“I’d feel much more comfortable letting the Planning Commission in 2024 deal with this,” Commissioner Jeri Hansen said.
Redding said it costs time and money to apply for changes to the county and go through the Planning Commission process. Coming back every few years at $150,000 a shot doesn’t make sense economically, he said.
He convinced some commissioners, but not enough to get everything the winery wanted. Commissioner Terry Scott sided with the winery, saying that the commission has long recommended that applicants think ahead so they’re not returning every few years asking for more permit changes.
“I’m concerned we’re moving toward an environment where we’re potentially punishing applicants for doing good strategic planning,” Scott said.
To win approval, Maxville Lake Winery decreased the amount of visitation it requested. The winery has a cap of 11,220 total tasting and marketing event guests and had wanted one of 26,050 guests. It lowered this to 20,500. It cut the proposed number of annual market events from 128 to 68.
Again, commissioners were concerned about the off-the-beaten track location. To help alleviate traffic the winery will have shuttle service for marketing events with 75 guests or larger.
“This is a very remote location and we want to tread very carefully in deciding to send additional cars up there,” Commissioner Anne Cottrell said.
Commissioners approved the scaled-back growth requests by a 3-2 vote. Commissioners Scott, Dave Whitmer and Joelle Gallagher voted “yes” and Commissioners Cottrell and Hansen voted “no.”