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San Joaquin County planners to hear expansion requests from Viaggio and Heritage Oaks wineries

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Posted: Wednesday, October 3, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 8:09 am, Wed Oct 3, 2012.

Now that the San Joaquin County Planning Commission approved the expansion of a pair of wineries two weeks ago, two more Lodi-area wineries want to expand their offerings.

A public hearing will be held Thursday in Stockton.

Viaggio Estate & Winery, located on Taddei Road in Acampo, wants to operate a large agricultural store with a deli that includes indoor seating at its existing winery.

Gerald Schwartz, one of six new owners of the 121-acre vineyard and winery, said they are trying to alleviate problems caused by previous owner Kent Raverty, whom county officials said conducted more marketing events than the 24 per year the county allows.

“We’re trying to get squeaky clean, and address the (issues),” Schwartz said. “We’re not trying to cause any problems whatsoever. We’re trying to get as neighbor-friendly as can be.”

The property was purchased earlier this year by Schwartz, his wife Debbie, Larry and Terri Lawrence, and Leo and Darla Van Warmerdam.

The Viaggio property is located adjacent to St. Jorge Winery, which caught the ire of Taddei Road residents who objected to St. Jorge creating noise and traffic in their rural neighborhood.

There will be no outdoor concerts, Schwartz said.

One the biggest opponents to the St. Jorge expansion doesn’t have an issue with the Viaggio project.

“(Viaggio is) a little better located,” Taddei Road resident Adel Liebelt said on Tuesday. “They’re not up against the homes.”

Liebelt said that while St. Jorge is only about 100 feet from the nearest house, Viaggio is a little more isolated, and music is limited to indoor use.

“They haven’t caused any problems” Liebelt said of Viaggio. “You can’t compare one against the other.”

However, the county’s Community Development Department opened an enforcement case against Viaggio on Aug. 29. County officials say that Viaggio constructed a metal carport, two storage containers with attached patio covers, and retaining walls without a county permit. The winery also allegedly converted a garage into a dwelling unit, according to a county staff report.

The new owners, who acquired the business in May, are addressing the violations, county planner Mo Hatef said in her report.

The Planning Commission approved St. Jorge’s request to have more marketing events featuring music and other entertainment by a 3-2 vote on Sept. 20. More than 50 people showed up at the meeting, most of them strongly opposing the project. They appealed the St. Jorge approval to the Board of Supervisors, which will make the final decision at a later date.

In other action Thursday, the Planning Commission will conduct a public hearing on another expansion request, this one by Heritage Oak Winery on Woodbridge Road, east of Tretheway Road, in eastern Acampo.

Heritage Oak owner Tom Hoffman was not available for comment Tuesday afternoon.

Contact reporter Ross Farrow at rossf@lodinews.com.

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