Napa County Executes Court-Ordered Warrant on Hundred Acre Property
Officials Say Lawsuit “Without Merit”
NAPA, CA (DATE)– Napa County officials posted a court-ordered inspection warrant today at 2355 Pickett Road in Calistoga after five months of repeated requests to access the property and inspect the Hundred Acre Wine Group property for environmental damage were unsuccessful.
The County also said that claims made in a lawsuit filed in October by winemaker Jayson Woodbridge are meritless and that enforcement actions to bring his Hundred Acre Wine Group property into compliance are well justified and in the public interest.
David Morrison, Napa County Director of Planning, Building & Environmental Services, said: “Napa County’s Conservation Regulations have been in place since 1991. The regulations protect against erosion not only to preserve valuable farmland, but to safeguard local streams and rivers from the impacts of development which can threaten water quality and quantity. These protections are critical on hillsides, especially those with slopes over 30 percent, where the risk of erosion is substantial. The regulations also include setbacks from streams and rivers to protect riparian areas and other natural habitat, as well as protections for tree canopy. Napa County enforces these regulations consistently throughout the watershed, whenever violations occur.”
Morrison said that activities on the Pickett Road property required the County to act before the rains start. The version of events contained in the lawsuit and publicity materials are misleading at best, he said.
Morrison reviewed the actual timeline of events:
- On May 6, 2022, while investigating a complaint submitted by a member of the public, County staff observed approximately three acres of a new vineyard, portions of which occurred on slopes in excess of 30 percent. Vineyard development on steep slopes creates a greater potential for erosion and watershed contamination. A search of records showed that an Erosion Control Permit application had not been submitted for the site, which is owned by Hundred Acre Wine Group.
- On May 11, County staff sent an Inspection Request to the property owner requesting an on-site inspection to determine whether or not any violations had occurred. The property owners failed to respond to the request for an inspection.
- On June 13, staff observed that the hillside vineyard appeared to have been expanded to approximately five to seven acres and, therefore, posted a Stop Work Order and Notice of Violation on the property.
- On June 17, Jayson Woodbridge contacted the County and stated that he would be out of the country for a few months. He asked to meet to show the property upon his return, around September 5. The County agreed to the extension; the Stop Work Order remained in place.
- In subsequent weeks, County staff received additional complaints related to the property.
- In early September, staff reached out to Mr. Woodbridge to schedule an inspection. Instead, Mr. Woodbridge’s attorney asked for a pre-inspection meeting, which was held on September 19.
- Since that time, staff has repeatedly attempted to contact Mr. Woodbridge’s attorney to schedule an inspection. The attorney simply stopped communicating with staff and, to date, the property owner has not agreed to an inspection.
- A California Superior Court judge granted Napa County’s request for an inspection warrant on Friday October 14, 2022. The inspection is expected to occur imminently, after which the County plans to file a counterclaim against the Hundred Acre Wine Group.
“Our actions in this matter are well justified given the plaintiff’s failure to cooperate with reasonable requests for inspection of his property and the potential for ongoing damage to water quality and natural habitat,” said Morrison.
For additional information the please contact [email protected] or by calling 707-253-4111.