Napa County approves new rules for micro-wine permits

The Napa County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved an ordinance that creates a new, simpler licensing process for microwineries.

The new rule will allow these small wineries to have their application heard by a zoning administrator rather than the planning commission, making it easier to approve small-scale projects. They have been pushing for such a rule for about five years.

Those grape growers would save three to four months by allowing the time and several thousand dollars through the process, said David Morrison, director of planning, construction and environmental services for Napa County.

Wineries must not produce more than 5,000 gallons of wine, have a maximum of 5,000 square feet of space for their facilities, and have at least 75% of the grapes used in fermentation from the vineyards of the property, among others limitations. The order would expire after three years if not renewed.

Matt Courtney is embarking on a new project

Matt Courtney has joined Amici Cellars as a consulting winemaker for the Calistoga winery.

Over a career spanning more than 20 years, Courtney has become a notable local winemaker. He first came to prominence at Marcassin, and in 2013 he became a winemaker at Arista Winery in the Russian River Valley. He also has his own project at Ferren Wines, which features chardonnay and pinot noir from a single vineyard on the Sonoma coast.

At Amici, he will join winemaker Tony Biagi in the family winery that has transitioned from its flagship Cabernet Sauvignon to bottling small batches from single vineyards in Napa and Sonoma counties.

Courtney will oversee the production of the estate’s appellation and portfolio of single-vineyard chardonnay and pinot noir and its sister brand Olema wines.

Kendall-Jackson to host Kentucky Derby charity event

Kendall-Jackson will host a Kentucky Derby party at her winery and gardens on May 7, with proceeds going to Sonoma County’s Meals on Wheels program.

In addition to being one of the premier wine families in the North Coast wine industry with its Jackson Family Wines portfolio, the Jackson family has also made its mark in horse racing which began in 2005 when founder Jess Jackson and his wife Barbara Banke established Stonestreet Farm on farmland in the Bluegrass Hills of Lexington, Kentucky.

Stonestreet raced thoroughbred horses in the Kentucky Derby. Most notably, Curlin finished third in 2007 and won the Preakness Stakes.

The cost will be $125 to attend and $100 for wine club members. For more information, visit

Compiled by Bill Swindell. Submit articles to [email protected].

Elisha A. Tilghman