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Napa Planning Commission approves Yountville-area winery
Wine Industry

Napa Planning Commission approves Yountville-area winery

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Yountville Washington Street Winery won approval from the Napa County Planning Commission with little trouble.

The winery is to be on 10.5 acres at 6170 Washington St. south of Yountville, in the heart of the Napa Valley near Hoffman Lane. The commission approved it by a 4-0 vote last week.

Consultant George Monteverdi said his client came to him and they talked about what would be appropriate on the site.

“He didn’t come to me with ideas for a 100,000-gallon production and 250,000 people a year coming through,” Monteverdi said. “We sat down and talked about what fits on this property.”

The result is what amounts to a small family winery, he said.

Yountville Washington Street Winery won permission to produce up to 30,000 gallons of wine annually and have up to 25 tasting room visitors daily. In addition, it can have 10 marketing events annually with up to 30 people and one annual wine auction event with up to 100 people.

The project includes building a 3,460-square-foot winery building and 1,324-square-foot hospitality building.

About 1.9 acres of the site’s 9.3 acres of vineyards will be removed for the new winery, a county report said. But Monteverdi said the applicant’s family also owns 65 acres of vineyards at nearby Darms Lane. Sending these grapes to the new winery will reduce trips shipping them elsewhere.

The owners for the Yountville Washington Street Winery project are Gary and Mary Anne Taylor and William and Dorothy Keller. The applicant is James Keller.

Neighbor Michael Clark expressed concern on several issues, including noise, views from his house and traffic, though he also said he saw solutions. He recently opposed the expansion of neighboring Bell Wine Cellars, unsuccessfully appealing a Planning Commission approval to the Board of Supervisors.

“I’m not against new development, but I am for well-planned development, especially in our agricultural preserve,” Clark said.

Monteverdi said the winery would generate nine to 10 vehicle trips during an average day. Marketing events might generate 11 to 12 trips when held 10 times a year.

“Very, very modest vehicle numbers relative to what passes by on Highway 29 and in the vicinity,” Monteverdi said.

James Keller said he’s tried to work with Clark.

“In my mind, before we walked into this room today, I thought we had gotten everything squared away and everyone was happy,” he said. “I’m a little bit disappointed … I’m looking forward to being a neighbor with him and I’ll do everything I can to appease him.”

Commissioners spent about 10 minutes discussing the project before granting approval.

“One of the things I appreciate about this application is the effort to fit within the existing codes and regulations,” Commissioner Anne Cottrell said, adding it includes no request for an exception to county winery rules.

Commission Chairman Michael Basayne said that he appreciates Clark’s comments but thinks the applicant made an effort to address Clark’s concerns. He sees the winery as having a very modest design that fits in with the landscape and being in a well-traveled location.

Commissioner Jeri Gill also mentioned past efforts by James Keller and Clark to talk with each other about the project.

“I am hoping that today is just an anomaly and that as the project continues and it is built, communication continues,” Gill said.

Cottrell agreed, saying that neighbors must still live together after the Planning Commission’s work is done.

This year, the Planning Commission has approved 10 new wineries and seven major modifications to existing wineries.

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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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