The tiny crossroads of Freestone (pop. 32), on the road

Faustian Deal: Telecom Pioneer Submits Application for Tasting Room, Event Center in Freestone hamlet

Update: Webley has offered the community water in return for the locals dropping opposition against the outrageous scale of the project in this tiny community.

Mr. Webly, at his expense has agreed to provide the community:

1)    Additional potable water storage in the form a 35,000 gallon tank and associated foundation at / next to the existing treatment plant for the community. (Approx. cost to John $60,000-$70,000)

2)    He has agreed to provide raw water from his domestic well to the community treatment plan.


In RRD 5) A Use Permit is required for: “Processing of any agricultural product of a type grown or produced on site or in the immediate area, storage of agricultural products grown or processed on site, and bottling or canning of any agricultural product grown or processed on site. “The resources and rural development district is also intended to allow very low density residential development and recreational and visitor-serving uses where compatible with resource use and available public services.”
The concern is that a Use Permits is required for visitor serving uses, and as we understand it, tasting rooms in RRD can only sell what is grown on the property. 1) This project does not have a production facility, and it is unclear how many cases of wine can be produced from the grapes grown on the property; and 2) there is no way the AG components of beer are grown on this property. 

Telecom Pioneer Submits Application for Tasting Room, Event Center in Freestone hamlet

The tiny crossroads of Freestone (pop. 32), on the road to Bodega Bay, is the latest

potential victim of an ambitious winery conversion project. A Santa Rosa telecom pioneer

submitted an application to Sonoma County Permit Resource Management Department

(PRMD) to convert a Freestone property to a wine and beer tasting facility, commercial

kitchen, organic gardens and event center.

John Webley, who purchased Santa Rosa’s iconic MacDonald Mansion in 2005 followed

by a five-year, multi-million dollar renovation, applied for the conversion of an historic

barn built in the 1800’s at 12740 Bodega Highway. The application for “Mableton Farms”

requests the following:

Convert the existing 6200 sq. ft. historic barn to a commercial facility to include a

wine tasting bar, beer tasting bar, food sales and art gallery.

A 1050 sq. ft. addition to the barn for restrooms, commercial kitchen and storage.

Creation of a 2460 sq. ft. outdoor patio area at the rear of the barn.

Conversion of the existing 450 sq. ft. residence to an information area.

An outdoor “lawn events area” with an 800 sq. ft. restroom/storage building and

800 sq. ft. covered patio.

A total of 230 parking spaces.

Proposed hours for the tasting room are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day, year-round. Proposed

hours for the promotional lunch/dinner activities are 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m, every day, yearround,

with two events per month requested. Although weddings are not proposed,

amplified music is proposed on event days.

According to Sonoma PRMD, the application has not yet been assigned to a planner.

Once assigned, it will be sent to county agencies such as Fire and Emergency Services and

Environmental Health for their input. The first hearing will be held in front of the

Landmarks Commission in six months to a year.

A number of Freestone residents, as well as Wine Water Watch oppose development in

the beautiful and rural Freestone Valley and oppose this commercial enterprise based on

the visual, noise and traffic impacts that will inevitably result. More information on the

project, and what you can do to stop it, will be posted as it becomes available.