Materra winery keeps successfully asking for permission to grow some more and the Napa County Planning Commission doesn’t seem to mind the repeat visits.
Owner Brian Cunat approached the commission Wednesday with his third growth request since 2015. Commissioner Dave Whitmer praised him for avoiding violations, rather than growing and later asking the county for forgiveness.
“What we’re hearing this morning is from someone who cares very deeply about being in compliance, staying in compliance,” he said.
Materra winery is located at 4326 Big Ranch Road, near Oak Knoll Avenue. That is about a mile northeast of the city of Napa.
It won approval to increase annual wine production from 110,000 gallons to 150,000 gallons, add 12,610 square feet to its 28,604-square-foot French Country-style winery building and increase annual visitation from 2,036 to 2,868.
“This is something that is the natural outgrowth of a successful wine business,” consultant George Monteverdi said on behalf of the winery.
Cunat, a Midwest native, and his wife Miki bought the 50 acres along the Napa River in 2007.
“Part of the whole success of Napa Valley has been its quality,” Cunat said. “So far, anyway, the rest of the country has not been able to surpass that. I didn’t come here to make it any worse. I came here if I could to add to it and make it better.”
Cunat and Monteverde talked about the winery’s steps to be environmentally conscious. For example, there are fewer impervious surfaces on the property than when the family bought it in 2007.
The winery is 60% solar and wants to go 100% solar. Cunat said the winery’s section of the Napa River has a beaver colony.
“Overall, we’re pretty excited about nature and preserving that nature and wildlife that we have,” Cunat said.
He convinced the Planning Commission. Commissioner Anne Cottrell said Materra “has so much environmentally sensitivity built into it in all the operations, allowing for growth of the winery in a very thoughtful way.”
“I like this project because it maintains vineyard acreage and we’re not seeing vines being taken out of production,” he said.
Commissioner Joelle Gallagher said Materra winery is using only about three gallons of water for every gallon of wine produced. That’s about half of what the commission sees normally.
“I was really impressed by that and impressed by the level of technology that you are using,” she told Cunat.
Commissioner Megan Dameron called the Materra winery project very thoughtful. The winery puts the environment first, she said.
“Overall, there is obviously a lot of passion, a lot of love in this project,” she said. “And what you’re asking for is very, very reasonable, being at or below other wineries at similar production.”
Materra winery was approved by the Planning Commission in 2009. It previously won growth approvals in 2015 and 2017.