No doubt, the first thing that almost everyone coming to the Napa Valley does, go visit their favorite winery and taste the wine made there. Thus, the last two years of debate by many here have brought up a very important question, when are there too many wineries and what should they be allowed to do?
Much of this started about three years ago with a handful of wineries getting caught having exceeded their allowed wine production and/or having done some type of improvement without getting the proper permits. Almost every winery caught with a violation would come before the local powers to be, the Napa County Planning Commission and/or the Board of Supervisors, and ask for a variance to continue doing what the were even though they were doing so illegally, see “Unauthorized” link below. And yes, in most cases they were permitted to do so with only a minimum of pain.
Then came several very controversial new winery approval applications before the Planning Commission with many neighbors being very vocally opposed to their approvals for various reasons. Many of these neighbors are quite substantial financially, and there have been a couple of lawsuits filed to stop these wineries from expanding or being approved.
To tackle this delicate debate, about two years ago the Board of Supervisors formed a 17 person Agricultural Protection Advisory Committee (APAC) made up with representatives from the wine and farming industries, the cities, environmentalists, businesses and neighborhood groups. Since then the APAC recommendations have been to the Planning Commission without any decisions taken and is now before the Board who recently had one six hour session to discuss the question, see below links, with another planned for early January. Stay tuned for this is going to one very interesting decision.
Below are links to several recent articles in the Napa Valley Register about this.
Don’t close your eyes to economic reality by Derek Anderson
Supervisors tackle winery regulations by Barry Eberling
Unauthorized work at winery vexes Planning Commission by Barry Eberling
Supervisors to take up winery growth debate by Barry Eberling
Question: What’s in it for Napa County? by Ross Workman