Now that the San Joaquin County Planning Commission has eliminated its moratorium on winery expansion and marketing events, two Lodi-area wineries have applied to expand their grounds and increase the number of parties, wedding receptions and fundraisers.
The Planning Commission will consider use permits for the following projects:
St. Jorge Winery in Acampo wants to build a 5,652-square-foot wine garden with a stage, dining and seating area on Bender Road, north of Taddei Road.
St. Jorge applicants Vernon and Jenise Vierra also hope to construct a 300-square-foot commercial kitchen, storage building, wine storage building and a covered patio to increase the number of attendees from 25 people to 150.
Watt’s Winery, located on North Locust Tree Road, is applying to expand the production capacity of a small winery into a large winery and apply for 30 marketing events per year. Currently, 70 events are proposed for the winery. Plans also call for expanding its production capacity from 36,000 gallons of wine per year to 200,000, and the construction of six 3,000-gallon tanks and a 2,500-square-foot wine-tasting room.
County officials have spent much of 2011 and 2012 weighing conflicting issues — allowing wineries to better market their product by hosting parties and other events while accommodating neighbors who object to the loud music and heavy traffic.
The county has 58 wineries; 27 of them are permitted a certain number of marketing events each year. Critics said the properties are disguised as wineries while having parties and loud entertainment.
Property owners in the Davis-Turner road area west of Lodi fought a proposal by Kapiniaris Vineyards to construct a winery nearby for almost a year. The Planning Commission approved the proposal on Nov. 17, but neighbors David Lucas, Fred Donald and Craig Miller filed an appeal with the Board of Supervisors.
In February, the Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 to allow Kapiniaris to construct the winery. Kapiniaris will be allowed to conduct up to 30 marketing events per year with a capacity of 150 people, much to the consternation of neighboring property owners, most of them on Davis Road.
Fred Donald, who opposed the Kapiniaris project earlier this year, said that many neighbors of the St. Jorge Winery will be at Thursday's meeting to oppose that winery's application. Donald said he is not among the opponents because he lives five to seven miles away from St. Jorge.
At Thursday's meeting, planning commissioners will also hear a report from the recently formed Winery Ordinance Task Force, which is developing a proposal to govern winery expansion and entertainment on agricultural property.
The task force, established in June, consists of representatives of the Lodi Chamber of Commerce, Lodi District Grape Growers Association, San Joaquin Farm Bureau Federation and Visit Lodi!
Contact reporter Ross Farrow at firstname.lastname@example.org.