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Wine Country Future at Stake?

Members of the Murrieta Temecula Group, a group of proven community leaders dedicated to the social well- being of the Murrieta/Temecula area and its environs, through informed, collective and individual influence and actions, recently joined members of the Southwest California Legislative Council, an advocacy coalition of the Temecula Valley, Murrieta, Wildomar, Menifee Valley and Lake Elsinore Valley Chambers of Commerce representing more than 2,800 local employers dedicated to promoting job growth, economic expansion, and preserving the overall global competitiveness of Southwest California, in presenting letters to 3rd District Supervisor Jeff Stone OPPOSING a proposed zone change in the Temecula Valley Wine Country.

The proposed General Plan Amendment from Applicant Luidar LLC, owner of Mount Palomar Winery, (General Plan Amendment No. 1142, Change of Zone No. 7845, Tentative Tract Map No. 36795 and Conditional Use Permit No. 3707) seeks a zone change allowing the winery to remove nearly 80% of its land from vineyard use and build 489 homes with an average lot size of 12,000 square feet. The amendment also requests a conditional use permit allowing the winery to expand on the remaining 90 acres to include a hotel, spa, tasting room, restaurant, wedding pavilion, amphitheater and detached cottages and villas.

Doesn’t sound like much land left over for – what are those little round things that made the Wine Country famous? Oh yeah, GRAPES!

According to the two groups, the Temecula Valley Wine Country is a unique area of our region that attracts tourism dollars and provides a significant number of direct and indirect jobs to our local economy. Given that our local wine country footprint is among the smallest viticulture regions in the state, preservation of the limited land available for this critical industry resource should be paramount to the planning process. The groups do not oppose the expansion of the winery operation to include a hotel and other amenities, but believes the addition of nearly 500 ‘tract’ homes on the winery would negatively impact the character and focus of the Wine Country.

The groups have been supportive of Supervisor Stone and the 6-7 year process developing the Wine Country 20/20 Plan adopted this past April and find this proposed usage to be wholly incompatible with that plan. They are concerned that approval of this Amendment Zone Change and would mark the end of the Temecula Valley Wine Country as we know it. “If you allow one winery to convert 80% of their vineyard land to residential housing, you have just opened the door to any others that would like to follow the same path of short term gain at the expense of long term vision. Soon the already limited acreage of our Wine Country would be smothered with tract homes and the Temecula wine industry would be no more,” states the SWCLC letter.

The groups were further concerned by rumors of support for the proposal by Supervisor Stone and 3rd District Planning Commissioner John Petty. Stone disavowed his support for the density and location of the project at a recent meeting while allowing that ‘some residential development in the region would help fund much-needed infrastructure and defray costs of the Wine Country roundabouts.’ Stone was a primary architect and driver of the often contentious Wine Country 20/20 Plan, which seeks to protect existing vineyards while planning for the number of wineries to more than double in the future.

Concerned residents are encouraged to contact Supervisor Stone’s office at  and let him know this proposed amendment is entirely inconsistent with the vision and intent of the Wine Country 20/20 Plan. Let him know you OPPOSE General Plan Amendment No. 1143 and SUPPORT the Temecula Valley Wine Country.