EDITOR: Staff Writer Christi Warren’s reporting on the massive traffic jam caused by a festival at Sonoma Lavender in Kenwood warranted placement on Page A3 in Tuesday’s paper (“Highway 12 grinds to halt due to festival”). What was not mentioned is the potential for the cumulative impacts caused by the many events permitted (and not permitted) that happen with increasing frequency in the Sonoma Valley, where Highway 12 is our only option.
In only a 5-mile stretch of Highway 12, between Melita Road and Deerfield Winery, there are 255 already permitted events. Now Kenwood Vineyards (Pernod Ricard) has submitted a permit application for 22 events, plus food and wine pairing in a larger facility with 50,000 visitors projected annually. Cunningham (Ledson) Winery has applied for 24 special events. VJB has applied for two of the many industrywide events as well as expanded hours, special dinners and food and wine pairings.
What happened at the lavender festival last weekend should be a red flag to the county regarding considering areas of concentration in the permitting process as the issue of events (at wineries and otherwise) is debated.