Napa County Micro-Winery Ordinance Goes Into Effect May 5, 2022
On, April 5, 2022 the Napa County Board of Supervisors adopted a new “Micro-winery Ordinance”, allowing Napa Valley winegrape growers to produce and sell wine at their family farms. The Ordinance will go into effect May 5, 2022.
The Ordinance will amend the Napa County Code to allow farmers to obtain a use permit for a “micro-winery” via approval by the zoning administrator, instead of the planning commission. This change allows applicants under the Ordinance to avoid public hearings, potentially reducing costs of acquiring a use permit. Note however that a new winery application, even without a planning commission hearing, is still complex, requiring detailed materials from architects, engineers, and potentially other experts.
The Ordinance allows micro-wineries to produce small amounts of wine primarily made from estate-grown fruit, provide limited on-site tastings, and make direct consumer sales. Applicants must follow the below requirements to qualify:
Micro-wineries are only permitted within the Agricultural Preserve (AP) and Agricultural Watershed (AW) zones. The parcel on which the winery is located must be at least 10 acres in size.
Micro-wineries must produce at least 201 gallons of wine onsite annually, up to a maximum of 5000 gallons. At least 75 percent of the fruit must be estate grown either on the property or on contiguous parcels under the same ownership.
Square footage limits
Micro-winery facilities are limited to a maximum of 5,000 square feet, including storage, processing, tasting, and caves.
Trips, tours and tasting, and marketing events.
Micro-wineries can generate no more than 20 average daily trips—equivalent to 10 daily round trips—between visitors, employees, and deliveries. Note that the County assumes each visitor vehicle carries 2.6 visitors. For example, a micro-winery that produced 2,500 gallons pre year with one full-time and one part-time employee could host 19 visitors per day.
Tours, tastings, and retail sales are limited to 9:00 am to 6:00 pm. No marketing events outside of tours and tastings are allowed.
Sunsets in 3 years (May 5, 2025); Convert to Regular Winery Use Permit 2 years After Approval.
Importantly, applications will only be accepted for a 3-year period, at which point the County will evaluate whether to amend, extend, or re-adopt it. Further, any micro-wineries who have use permits approved under the Ordinance may not modify or amend their permit within 2-years after approval.
All use permits are discretionary approvals subject to the California Environmental Quality Act. Micro-wineries should qualify for a Categorical Exemption unless special circumstances exist.
Dickenson, Peatman & Fogarty has represented a number of wine producers in the use permit process. For more information on the new micro-winery ordinance and the application process, please contact Thomas Adams or Joshua Devore.