Environmental report on T.J. Rodgers’s winery due in April

By on Wed, January 28, 2009

T.J. Rodgers continues his plan to build a winery west of Skyline, above La Honda. The Almanac has an extensive report on the state of this controversial project.

Seven years after Mr. Rodgers, CEO of Cypress Semiconductor and a resident of Woodside, got a permit from San Mateo County to drill three caves 300 feet into Langley Hill for the winery, he is still trying to get another permit to install the actual winery in the caves. Grapes from Mr. Rodgers’ three vineyards are now being trucked to San Carlos to make the wine. ...

Months of blasting with dynamite to complete the caves riled neighbors, particularly downhill in La Honda. At the same time, neighbors became increasingly concerned about impacts of the vineyard on their community. They worried about how it might compete for scarce water supplies, or how erosion from runoff might silt up streams and pollute drinking water with pesticides and chemicals. ...

The revised DEIR should be released in April, says county planner Mike Schaller. It will be available for public review and comment for 45 days, and subject to several public hearings before the commission acts on the winery application.

The revised EIR will include results of a new hydrologic study that looks at both groundwater supply and demand in the area, and at surface drainage from the vineyards into Langley and Woodhams creeks. "It should hopefully answer the questions," Mr. Schaller says. One key element in the winery application, a land swap, is being welcomed by downhill neighbors. Mr. Rodgers proposes to trade about 23 acres of land in the watershed of Woodhams Creek for land above the entry owned by neighbor Willard Wyman.

This land trade, which depends on county approval of the winery application, would eliminate a potential vineyard on the steep slopes above Woodhams Creek. This creek provides the water supply for Cuesta La Honda, a community of 280 homes and the La Honda Elementary School.

"The proposed land swap is a big step in the right direction in terms of ensuring the protection of our drinking water," wrote the Cuesta La Honda Guild in a comment last August.