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San Joaquin County Planning Commission rejects new Lodi winery

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Posted: Friday, July 19, 2013 12:00 am

Wineries need to be built on sizable parcels of land, the San Joaquin County Planning Commission said with its decision to reject a plan to build a winery on two acres in Lodi.

During Thursday night’s Planning Commission meeting, board members voted 4-1 against the plan, while approving another Lodi winery with accommodations to hold larger marketing events.

“It creates an amateur night situation,” Planning Commission Vice Chairman Clem Lee said regarding Andrea Maley’s plan to build a small winery over the next 10 years.

Maley’s proposal for a winery near Davis Road and Highway 12 included 20 marketing events per year, along with a tasting room, commercial kitchen and bridal suite on land that currently doesn’t have vineyards.

Maley, who’s been in the wine business for 32 years, said opening her own winery has been a longtime dream she wanted to tackle once she retires. And while the property is small, she believed the idea would still work.

“I’m sorry I wasn’t born with hundreds of acres,” she said.

Board Chairman Miguel Villapudua said Maley has earned this opportunity based on her reputation.

“She does a good job,” he said. “We should give her a chance.”

But Lee said the plan didn’t place enough emphasis on growing grapes.

“In this case, we’re very, very clearly going backwards,” he said. “We’re going to have an accessory first, there we’re bringing in the grapes.”

Maley has the option of appealing the decision.

Meanwhile, the Planning Commission passed a motion 3-2 allowing Watts Winery, located at 17036 N. Locust Tree Road in Lodi, to increase attendance to 145 people. They also voted to allow the winery to play amplified music inside, but not outdoors.

Representatives for the winery spoke to the Planning Commission, hoping the board would approve all its requests to help the small winery expand.

“Watts Winery has grown into a successful business,” said Mike Smith, engineer of record for Watts Winery. “One thing they need to continue on with being a successful winery is events. They’d like to see it continue growing.”

Smith told the commission that Watts Winery needed to hold marketing events in order to raise enough money to grow their vineyard.

But neighbors in attendance were opposed to the idea.

William Schmer said he could hear music from the winery at his house during past events. He added that cars would line the road outside his house.

“When they’ve had their music in the past, we’ve heard it,” he said. “We’re not against them having events. We just don’t want to hear their music.”

Since the board denied the request to play amplified music outside, Watts Winery has the option to appeal the approval.

Contact reporter Kristopher Anderson at krisa@lodinews.com.

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