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CalTrans and Local Agencies issue Comment on Winery Events


CalTrans and Local Agencies issue Comments on Dairyman Winery Impacts on Hwy 12

Local agencies are responding with issues and concerns about the controversial Dairyman Winery/Event Center application, proposed to be located on Highway 12 between Sebastopol and Santa Rosa.

The California Department of Transportation (CalTrans) reviewed the project application and raised significant traffic related issues that they expect the Sonoma County Permit and Resource Management Department to address, including:

“Major special events involving 300 and 600 guests may cause significant delays to SR (highway) 12. Temporary mitigation measures such as the use of the California Highway Patrol for traffic control at the intersection, shuttle buses, valet parking, encouraging car pooling and advanced public notice should be considered.”

Caltrans noted that the impact of weekly events with 100 or more people would be considerable. They also voiced safety issues related to the driveway of the Dairyman property which crosses the popular Joe Rodota trail, used daily by 650 bicyclists and walkers.

In addition, the Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation has raised a number of concerns about the project’s environmental impact.

“The project is an industrial use that we think is inappropriate in the community separator,” stated their letter to the County Permit Department. “This large wine and spirits production facility will use huge amounts of water….it could be in the hundreds of millions of gallons per year.”

Dairyman Winery and event center plans to hold 62 public events each year.  In addition to the bike path crossing the driveway into the Dairyman property, there are objections to the industrial use of agricultural land, where Napa vintner, Joseph Wagner plans to produce 500,000 cases of wine and 250,000 gallons of spirits, of which 99% of the grapes used   will have to be trucked in annually. In addition to hundreds of visitors attending events and tastings weekly, there would be approximately 1,500 tanker and truck crossings annually to bring in grapes, juice, bottling supplies and outward shipments of product.

Dairyman Winery and Event Center planned along Highway 12

The Rural Alliance, a local grassroots organization working to preserve the natural resources and rural character of Sonoma County, has noted water use and traffic related concerns and believe that constructing 57,000 square feet of buildings with related road infrastructure on LEA zoned parcels could set a dangerous precedent.

Because of these issues, Neighbors to Preserve Rural Sonoma County (PRSC), a 2-month old environmental organization with over 1,000 supporters, is challenging the proposed Dairyman Winery Event Center.

Representatives from the group met recently with Supervisor Efren Carrillo and county parks’ staff to request denial of an easement , as the project driveway crosses the popular Joe Rodota walking and bike path. The property owner does not have a deeded legal easement for uses stated in his application; a large commercial industrial and retail venture. PRSC representatives were informed by Supervisor Carrillo that the property owner had agreed to an Environmental Impact Report and that the park department would make their recommendation regarding the easement, after all studies were in.

Granting commercial easements over public trails has been denied by the County in the past. A few years back, the Santa Rosa Junior College was denied an easement over a public path and had to scrap plans for a west county campus off highway 116 North after a court challenge. 


Thank you for the excellent report and the outstanding photos showing what a huge production facility and event center this proposed project would be... and how tiny Luther Burbank Memorial Highway (#12) looks beside it. The much-touted Joe Rodota Trail isn't even noticeable when viewed from this perspective. But the highway we drive on all the time, with the Grange and CalTrans right across the road from the proposed manufacturing facility, and the trail that took great effort and cost to build and maintain for the walkers and those who ride bikes through this beautiful pasture land... It won't be beautiful if all the water is suckeup and into wine and brandy manufacturing! Mr. Warner does not seem to "hear" Governor Brown ask everyone to cut back on their water use (except, of course, big ag) and apparently he doesn't think he could possibly run out of water for his manufacturing facility... while the residents of the senior apartments where I live are asked not to flush toilets unnecessarily. We're probably less than five miles from his property where he would be sucking up an obscene amount of water. 

It's been said before, and it's true: Wrong project at the wrong time in the wrong location. NO!   
Rev. Allorrah Be
Mobile Minister
Circles of Light Ministries
Peacetown: Sebastopol, California


Dairyman-- Udderly Wrong!

Thank you for your article "Dairyman Winery & Event Center faces Caltrans safety concerns". A new group has formed to oppose this inappropriate, over the top enormous development, Preserve Rural Sonoma County ( They oppose the Dairyman Winery and Event Center project (off Highway 12 near Llano Road just east of Sebastopol) for a number of reasons, in addition to safety and traffic concerns stated by Caltrans.

Besides needing an estimated 1 billion gallons of water annually to produce 500,000 cases of wine and 250,000 gallons of spirits, plus events, this project is ridiculous in terms of scale and appropriateness. Napa winemaker, Mr. Wagner, wants to build his industrial sized bottling plant and winery event center right in the middle of the Laguna de Santa Rosa, a  highly sensitive environmental area, and home to over 200 species of animals.  Caltrans is right to be concerned about traffic congestion on the 2-lane corridor into Sebastopol.  Dairyman's desired 62 annual events with up to 600 people each would make going to and from Sebastopol/Bodega Bay a nightmare. Other issues such as wetland degradation and loss of greenbelt are also factors and good reasons why the Board of Supervisors should deny this project. The unincorporated areas, the open land, need our special protection.
At this time, there are 62 pending applications for new or expanded winery/event centers in the county. Many are proposed for development in inappropriate locations that would seriously impact the quality of life of our neighborhoods and greenbelt areas. When will our elected officials and their appointees in the Planning Commission start paying attention to people they are supposed to represent and stop the Napafication of Sonoma County before it's too late?

Eszter Freeman
Sebastopol, Ca.
The Dairyman Winery/Event Center/Distillery complex threatens to
overwhelm Highway 12 with snarled traffic from more than one large event
a week and from tanker trucks carting in 99% of the grapes/juice from
other locales for processing wine and spirits and then carting out
tractor trailers filled with finished product.

It is the wrong project because it is:
An industrial scale project on agricultural land, which should be
reserved for growing crops
In opposition to the theme of "Keep it local"
Of a scale more appropriate for the Highway 101 corridor, where access
is less of an issue

It is in the wrong place because it is:
In a Greenbelt/community separator
In a wetlands and endangered species locale
In the Laguna de Santa Rosa scenic open space viewshed

It is the wrong time because it is:
During a drought
During water cutbacks
Based on a boom economy which can't last

Not this, not here, not now: Dairyman.

Anna Ransome
Graton CA