Hall Wines' controversial Napa vineyard project to move forward

Craig and Kathryn Hall of Hall Wines plan to move forward 'as quickly as possible' to plant 209 acres of vineyards on a 2,300-acre-property in Napa known as Walt Ranch, now that county supervisors have given their final blessing.

Affirming a decision it made Dec. 6, the Board of Supervisors on Dec. 20 declared the project complied with state environmental laws and the county's General Plan vision.

Once the project begins on land at Monticello Road (Highway 121) in the eastern hills of the Napa Valley, construction is expected to take about four years.

After required environmental studies, the Walt Ranch project was approved in June by County Planning, Building and Environmental Services Director David Morrison, but four appeals were subsequently filed and the project was brought before the board.

Appeals to the project addressed environmental concerns that reflect a growing concern about vineyards spreading to the hillsides of Napa, as the Valley floor is at capacity.

The Napa Sierra Club filed an appeal objecting plans to clear cut 14,000 trees for vineyard development, eliminating wildland habitat, wiping out carbon stores which counter greenhouse gases, and destabilizing the soil.

Local advocacy group Living Rivers Council, the statewide environmental advocacy group Center for Biological Diversity, and the Circle Oaks Homes Association and Circle Oaks Water District together had also filed appeals.

Although opponents of the project have been unsuccessful in halting the project, their pressure significantly reduced its size. Original plans called for the removal of 28,000 trees, which has been reduced to half that amount. The entire project, in the works for 10 years, has been reduced from the original plans by 42 percent.

Appellants have not ruled out further legal action.

Cynthia Sweeney covers health care, hospitality, residential real estate, education, employment and business insurance. Reach her at or call 707-521-4259.

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