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Examples of Winery Project Descriptions and Conditions of Approval

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Examples of winery project descriptions and conditions of approval per Permit Sonoma common practice.

Example of Project Description for Use Permit Application

  • A new winery building (two story, approx. 32,210 square feet) with a maximum annual case production of 60,000 cases. The winery building would be built into the hillside meadow in front of the wine caves, using a cut-and-fill, low-profile design. Grapes will be locally sourced from on-site, Sonoma County, and bordering counties. Case-good will stored off site at a local warehouse. All crushing, processing, aging, bottling, and storing of wine will be indoors. Features include processing area, bottling area, mechanical room, wine storage and tank areas, administrative offices, employee kitchen/breakroom, employee shower and locker room, a wine library, a commercial kitchen, employee and public restrooms, and two technical tasting rooms. Technical tasting rooms are used for business tastings’ with distributors, local restaurant and chefs.
  • A wine cave (approx. 20,720 square feet) for “wine vault storage”, meaning long-term aging of wine in barrels. The wine cave will be a Class II wine cave not open to the general public. The proposed wine cave will be 36 feet wide and 16 feet high. The wine cave will be constructed by cut-and-cover excavation. The wine cave structure will include cast-in-place foundations, stem walls and concrete slabs, and pre-cast tunnel arch segments. Soil material from the cave area will be used to fill over the top of the cut and cover cave. All of the soil generated from this excavation, as well as from other grading for the winery, would be placed in temporary stockpiles only on the west side of the project site. The applicants’ engineer, ________, estimate that approximately 15,843 cubic yards would be excavated from the cave area. Approximately 9,575 cubic yards would be placed over the cave once the pre-cast tunnel arches are set. This leaves approximately 6,268 cubic yards of spoils temporarily stockpiled on the west side of the project site to then be used for the winery building, driveway, and landscaping areas.
  • 20 agricultural promotional events per year (10 events with 30 guests, 5 events with 60 guests, and 5 events with 120 guests). No weddings, receptions, or concerts are proposed.
  • Participation in industry wide events totaling two event days per year with a maximum of 300 guests.
  • Food and wine pairing is proposed in the public tasting room, consistent with approval of similar requests and during agricultural promotional events.
  • 15 fulltime employees, 3 part time employees, and 6 seasonal employees for a total of 24 employees.
  • New parking areas include: 20 standard spaces, 4 handicap accessible spaces, and 58 overflow parking spaces (unmarked gravel area) plus 25 standard spaces, 2 handicap accessible spaces, and 21 overflow parking spaces (unmarked). Bicycle spaces are provided at a ratio of 1 bicycle space for every 5 vehicle spaces.
  • New winery wastewater disposal system with pre-treatment system and disposal via on-site vineyard irrigation system. The process waste will be pre-screened at collection points in the facility and directed to an aerobic treatment unit (manufacturer to be determined). The treatment unit will reduce waste strength and suspended solids to levels approved by the State Water Quality Control Board for surface irrigation. Treated wastewater will be pumped to a point of connection to the vineyard irrigation system. The process system will be subject to a Waste Discharge Permit issued by the State Water Quality Control Board, North Coast Region.
  • New domestic septic systems on project site to serve all employee and guest restrooms. The septic systems will be subject to a Septic Permit and Plans issued by the Well and Septic Section of Permit Sonoma.
  • Two existing driveways will be used with improvements required by the Department of Transportation and Public Works. Sight distance improvements will be subject to plans approved by the Department of Transportation and Public Works and an Encroachment Permit issued by the Engineering Section of Permit Sonoma.
  • Existing on-site wells to be used for all winery and domestic uses.
  • None of the existing vineyard will be removed to accommodate the proposed use or related site infrastructure.
  • The 42 acres of vineyard consists of Chardonnay (32 acres) and Pinot Noir (10 acres) grapes. The on-site vineyard produces 250 tons of grapes. The 32 acres of Chardonnay grapes will be processed on site. The 10 acres of Pinot Noir grapes remain under a long term lease by another local winery. The Winery Trip Generation Form prepared by ________, states approximately 720 tons of grapes would be imported to the project site from local areas in order to reach the maximum annual production capacity of 60,000 cases. This calculates to approximately 62 cases/ton, consistent with industry standards which range between 58 to 65 cases/ton depending upon the grape variety and processing operations.

Examples of Hours of Operation

  • Winery operations:  Monday through Friday, 7:00 AM to 6:00 PM: Non-Harvest Season
    Monday through Friday, 6:00 AM to 10:00 PM: Harvest Season
  • Tasting Room hours:    10:00 AM to 5:00 PM, 7 days a week
  • Industry-Wide events:  11:00 AM to 5:00 PM, two event days per year
  • Agricultural Promotional Events: 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM, 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM, or 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM

A Table that provides the types of proposed events, number of events per year, hours, maximum number of guests and locations on the project site can be submitted with the use permit application.

Examples of Project Descriptions for a Use Permit Modification

Request for a Use Permit modification to allow at the existing winery:

  1. Six (6) agricultural promotional events per year with a maximum of 300 guests per event, but a limit of 100 guests to be on the site at one time;
  2. 24 catered lunches or dinners per year with a maximum of 35 guests, with dinners not to exceed two per month and up to 12 per year. Dinners to cease by 9:30 PM, and clean-up to end by 10:00 PM
  3. Participation in a total of 10 industry wide event days per year with a maximum of 300 guests per event, but a limit of 100 guests to be on the site at one time;
  4. Food and wine pairing during public tasting within the winery or wine cave.
  5. Construction of a case-good storage structure approximately 375 square feet in size associated with the vineyard tours and tastings.
  6. An interior remodel of the existing winery building to add a new, fully equipped commercial kitchen, approximately 370 square feet in size and a glass washing station, approximately 130 square feet in size.
  7. Use of the wine cave for public wine tasting, dinners, and events; and vineyard tours.

An Event Table that summarizes the proposed event activities can be submitted with the Use Permit modification application.

Event Safety Plan

An Event Safety Plan, incorporated into the project by the applicant provides details on managing event activities on the project site:

  1. Agricultural promotional events and industry wide event will be limited to no more than 100 guests on the site at any one time.
  2. Agricultural promotional events will occur September-May (avoiding summer months of June, July, and August).
  3. Permit holder will require guests to have an official reservation and/or ticket to ensure that there are not additional guests arriving over the 100 maximum guest count. Permit holder may charge a small fee to better control RSVP list, or
  4. Permit holder may have multiple reservation time slots available during the event day to ensure guests are not arriving all at the same time or in too large of numbers.

Examples of Conditions of Approval per Permit Sonoma Common Practice

Food Service

Limited, no cooked to order foods; see Standard Food Service Condition of Approval below.

  1. Commercial kitchen. A commercial kitchen located within a tasting room or winery must be limited to a preparation area with counter space, double/triple sinks, refrigeration, microwave, warming ovens, a stove or range, grill and exhaust hood. Pizza ovens, outdoor grills and other restaurant equipment used for cooked to order foods are prohibited. A restaurant, café, delicatessen or any other food service offering cooked-to-order food is prohibited. Table service, retail sales of cooked or prepared food or menu items are prohibited in the tasting room, except for food and wine pairings or events as allowed by use permit.
  2. Standard Food Service Condition of Approval. A restaurant, café, delicatessen or any other food service offering cooked-to-order food is prohibited. Table service, retail sales of cooked or prepared food or menu items are prohibited in the tasting room, except within the public tasting room for food and wine pairings. The following types of food service are allowed under this permit:
    1. Samples or tastes of pre-packaged food, such as crackers, nuts or other palette cleansers, featuring local foods and food products offered in conjunction with wine tasting.
    2. Prepared meals or appetizers featuring local foods and food products offered in conjunction with agricultural promotional events, such as wine club parties, and winemaker dinners, and with food and wine pairings as limited by Condition #88. Such meals/appetizers may be provided by a licensed caterer or prepared in the approved commercial kitchen located in the winery building as depicted on the approved project floor plan (Refer to A1.1 Plan as approved by the Board of Supervisors on 4-24-2018). The preparation area can include counter space, sinks, microwave oven(s), warming oven(s), refrigeration, a stove or range, and an exhaust hood.

Food and Wine Pairing

Food and Wine Pairing featuring local food products may occur during normal tasting room hours and must be permitted after tasting room hours.

Food and wine pairing must be limited to small appetizer-size portions with a fixed menu selected by the winery limited to one food sample per type of wine.

Traffic Management Plan

A standard Condition of Approval for a new winery or tasting room is the preparation of a traffic management plan for events with over 100 participants, if not submitted with use permit application.

  1. Parking attendants are required each day of the event.
  2. An effective shuttle plan and system is required to support each day of the event. A convenient and secure “park and ride” area must be provided.
  3. The on-site parking requirements must be met.
  4. All parking and queuing of traffic must be located on the winery/tasting room premises.
  5. On-street parking must be prohibited. The winery must enforce the on-street parking restrictions.
  6. Large Tour buses are not allowed.

On-site Coordinator

For a new winery or tasting room or a modification to a use permit, an on-site coordinator is required to address complaints about winery events both during and following an event.

Annual Report

For a new or modification of an existing use permit, a standard Annual Report Condition of Approval to ensure compliance with permits or to update use permits to reflect the appropriate level of activity:

After commencement of event activities, the owner/operator shall submit a report each year to Permit Sonoma by January 15th describing the number of agricultural promotional events that occurred during the previous year, the day, date, time, and duration of each event, the number of persons attending each event, the purpose of each event, and any other information required by the director. The annual report shall also include the proposed events for the coming year.

Two-Year Review

For a new or modification of an existing use permit, a standard Two-Year Review Condition of Approval:

A review of event activities under this Use Permit shall be undertaken by the director two years after commencement of the first event to determine compliance with the Conditions of Approval applicable to agricultural promotional events. The director shall give notice of this Use Permit review to all owners of real property within three hundred feet (300′) of the subject site plus any additional property owners who have previously requested notice. The director shall allow at least ten (10) days for comment. If the director determines that there is credible evidence of non-compliance with the Conditions of Approval applicable to events or that event activities constitute a public nuisance, the director shall refer the matter to the Board of Zoning Adjustments for possible revocation or modification of the Use Permit with regard to events. Any such revocation or modification shall be preceded by a public hearing noticed and heard in compliance with the Zoning Code. This Use Permit review shall not include any other aspect of the original Use Permit approval, unless other Conditions of Approval have not been met, violations have occurred, or the use constitutes a public nuisance.