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News: 12/01/2008

SVCAC to review Lasseter winery in GE

New Stage Gulch Rd. resort also on the agenda

The Sonoma Valley Citizens Advisory Commission (SVCAC) is scheduled to review an application by Lasseter Family Winery to construct a new winery building on its Vintage Lane property in Glen Ellen, a site which was the subject of much debate in the Glen Ellen community eight years ago when a previous winery tried to expand facilities there.

The SVCAC meeting will be held Dec. 10, 6:30 p.m. at the Sonoma Fire Station, 630 Second St. West in Sonoma. The SVCAC reviews development applications in Sonoma Valley and makes recommendations on projects to local planning officials.

The 38-acre property is owned by Pixar and Disney filmmaker John Lasseter and his family through Justi Creek LLC, and is adjacent to the Lasseter’s residential property.

The winery property, at the end of Vintage Lane behind Dunbar Elementary School, was once owned by Grand Cru Winery, and then purchased by the Chalone Group in 1998. In 1999, Chalone proposed to significantly expand the winery facilities, but ran into vocal opposition from the Glen Ellen neighbors and residents. Chalone eventually pulled its proposal and sold the property to Justi Creek LLC in 2003. There has been little activity since, according to neighbors.

The site does currently carry an existing use permit to allow for a winery to make up to 125,000 cases per year, have retail sales, and have a tasting facility.

In its current application for a county design review, Lasseter Family Winery proposes to remodel and reconstruct the existing winery facility, a project totaling 16,400 square feet, basically the footprint of what already exists.

“The project is a simple replacement of a commercial winery with a new structure of substantially the same size, purpose and capacity,” states the application, filed in November.

It is not known how many cases Lasseter Family Winery would actually produce. There are 26 acres of existing vineyard. In the application, it states that the winery will rely on estate-grown grapes as well as grapes from other areas of Sonoma County.

According to the application, the winery’s operating hours would be Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. It is estimated that during peak operating times, there would be 15 passenger vehicles a day, and seven trucks.

New resort proposed for Stage Gulch

Also on the SVCAC’s Dec. 10 agenda is a review of a request for a General Plan amendment, rezoning and use permit for a vacation home resort at 5750 and 4800 Stage Gulch Rd. in Sonoma. The proposal, by Sonoma Vineyard Estates LLC, is for 52 detached units, a 9,000-square-foot clubhouse with kitchen and spa facilities, pool, and a package treatment plant, all on 57 acres.

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