Winery regulations at the heart of Napa County lawsuit against winery

Hoopes Vineyard contends wine sales and consumption at its site are indeed authorized, but through state law.|

Proceedings continued Monday in a legal battle over Napa County's winery regulations.

The county’s suit against the Hoopes Vineyard winery was heard in court starting last week, alleging the winery had broken county rules about hosting wine tastings without prior county approval.

County officials filed the suit against the winery, at 6204 Washington St. just south of Yountville, in October 2022.

The county specifically contends the winery is not allowed to host tastings or other hospitality activities under its 1984 small winery exemption. The exemption entitles the property to operate as a winery without being permitted by the county, which is generally required.

But, in turn, small wineries are supposed to accept certain limitations, such as not producing more than 20,000 gallons of wine each year.

The county stated in a Jan. 24 trial brief that small wineries are also not allowed to “conduct public tours, provide wine tastings, sell wine-related items or hold social events of a public nature,” according to the 1980 code that defines such entities.

“If a small winery wishes to engage in these types of ‘hospitality’ activities, which create additional impacts on the land, it must apply for and obtain a use permit — and many have done just that,” the county states in the brief.

The county also contends in the brief that consultants for Hoopes — which purchased the Washington Street site in 2017 — advised on upgrades to the property that were needed to comply with county rules in case Hoopes sought to increase visitation or offer wine tastings. But owner Lindsay Hoopes decided the cost of those upgrades were cost prohibitive, the trial brief says.

“It is undisputed to this day that Hoopes has not applied, and refuses to apply, for a permit that would authorize increased visitation and wine tasting,” the county’s trial brief says.

The county also contends that Hoopes maintains other structures — such as animal sheds and Airstream trailers — that lack required county permits, with violations going back to 2020.

The Hoopes side also outlined its arguments in a trial brief filed Jan. 24. According to that brief, wine sales and consumption at the site are indeed authorized, but through state law.

Another argument by Hoopes, according to the brief, is that while public wine tastings at small wineries are prohibited by the 1980 code, the code doesn’t restrict by-appointment — or private — tastings.

In trial proceedings so far, the court has heard testimony from contractors, experts, county staff and others.

On Feb. 2, that included:

• Carl Butts, president of CAB Consulting Engineers, who had advised Lindsay Hoopes on what was needed for a potential use permit.

• David Morrison, the county’s current special projects director and former interim executive officer.

• Kim Withrow, an environmental health supervisor of the county, with a focus on well and onsite wastewater treatment.

• David Giudice, the county’s chief building official.

The county’s attorneys rested their case on Feb. 6, after hearing testimony from Lindsey Hoopes, and testimony from people identified by the Hoopes side began.

A motion from the county to compel the Hoopes’ accountant to turn over financial information was partially granted by the court on Feb. 5, with the court denying access to emails and other correspondence sent or received by Lindsay Hoopes and Spencer Hoopes.

You can reach Staff Writer Edward Booth at 707-521-5281 or

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