Andrea Maley doesn’t have dozens or hundreds of acres to grow grapes and produce wine. She has two. And on Tuesday, Maley will try convince the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors those two acres are enough land to fulfill her dream of opening a quaint winery in Lodi.
Maley, a Lodi resident and longtime winemaker, first asked the county in 2012 for permission to construct the winery over a period of 10 years along Davis Road near Highway 12.
Her plan, however, met resistance from neighbors, the county’s farm bureau, and eventually the Planning Commission, who voted 4-1 to reject the plan based on concerns that Maley would be too focused on marketing events rather than producing wine.
“It creates an amateur night situation,” Planning Commission Vice Chairman Clem Lee said when Maley’s application was rejected in July.
On Friday, Maley was reached by phone, but she said her attorney has advised her not to comment on the appeal.
In a letter to supervisors, though, the single mother of three children wrote that she wants to open a winery in order to “provide for my family.”
Planning Commission Chairman Miguel Villapudua was the only board member to give Maley the thumbs up in July.
Days before supervisors are set to make a ruling, Villapudua still believes Maley can contribute to Lodi’s wine community with her two acres.
“She’s not asking for a lot,” he said. “It’s a dream of hers and I want to see it come true.”
Maley’s proposal called for 20 marketing events and 100 attendees per event each year, along with a tasting room, commercial kitchen and bridal suite on land that currently doesn’t have vineyards. Maley also wrote to supervisors that she intends to produce a maximum of 36,000 gallons of wine per year and that events will be an “accessory and subordinate” to winemaking.
Villapudua said the Planning Commission approves wineries “sometimes for the right reasons, and sometimes not for the right reasons.” But after 32 years of experience in the wine business, Maley is right for the task, he said.
“Of all the people who deserve it, she does,” Villapudua said. “I support it because she’s done so much for the community (of Lodi) and the wine community.”
Despite recommending the Planning Commission approve the application in July, the Community Development Department now recommends that supervisors deny the appeal.
In a document submitted to supervisors, the department’s director Kerry Sullivan backed the Planning Commission’s notion that Maley’s winery would primarily be an event center, based on the requested number of marketing events and attendees.
Sullivan said there are currently four wineries on four or less acres with approved marketing events in the county, including Macchia Winery in Acampo, which sits on 1.5 acres. It’s approved for two events with 100 attendees per year.
Some in the wine industry are saying Maley’s plan will set a precedent, including Bruce Blodgett of the San Joaquin County Farm Bureau, who spoke in opposition of the proposed winery.
Representatives of the farm bureau, as well as Visit Lodi!, the Lodi Winegrape Commission and the Lodi District Grape Growers Association could not be reached for comment.
Neighbor Kenneth Warburton told the Planning Commission he was concerned that the winery would create a traffic hazard, noise and other problems.
Come Tuesday, though, Villapudua will still be in Maley’s corner.
“I wish she could get it done,” he said.
Contact reporter Kristopher Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org.