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.
DP&F Announces Official Launch of Cannabis Practice Group
Dickenson Peatman & Fogarty (“DP&F”) announces the official launch of its Cannabis practice group. This group offers a specialized, full-service approach to serving the business needs of clients navigating California’s increasingly complex cannabis industry.
DP&F has a 50-year history of representing businesses in regulated industries, including the alcohol beverage industry. For the past few years, the firm has been advising clients regarding compliance with state and local cannabis regulations and on the potential for creating geographic indications for regions in which cannabis is cultivated. DP&F’s broad experience in advising clients on legal strategies where land use, intellectual property, business, employment and regulatory issues intersect gives its attorneys a sophisticated, integrated framework to address the complex regulatory framework impacting new entrants to and existing operators in the cannabis industry.
Erin Carlstrom, Senior Counsel, will lead the DP&F Cannabis practice group based out of its Santa Rosa office. Carlstrom worked in cannabis compliance and land use at her previous firm, specializing in government relations and permitting. She has ushered statewide clients through major projects, from incorporation to operations, and has been responsible for obtaining entitlements all over California. She served on the Santa Rosa City Council from 2012-2016 where she served as Vice Mayor, and twice chaired the Cannabis Subcommittee, positioning Santa Rosa as one of the state’s most progressive jurisdictions for cannabis regulations. She obtained her Juris Doctorate from Pepperdine University and her undergraduate degree from Yale University. Carlstrom lives in Santa Rosa with her son, Adlai.
“Every day, DP&F attorneys serve clients who operate in highly regulated industries. We are experts in the alcohol beverage industry and given the breadth and depth of our practice, we are set up to serve the cannabis industry seamlessly. We are thrilled to have Erin, an attorney with significant and successful practical experience, spearheading our efforts to provide effective and thoughtful advice in this area,” says Carol Kingery Ritter, one of DP&F’s managing partners.