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Healdsburg Planning Commission OKs Blanchard Family Winery Tasting Room

Family-owned winery will be located west of the Plaza

Blanchard Family Winery won a conditional use permit this week to operate a tasting room at 109 W. North St., several blocks west of the Healdsburg Plaza.

Blanchard's permit OK came at with little fanfare at a sparsely attended meeting Tuesday of the Healdsburg Planning Commission.

Compared with the hoopla last year over the wine bar on Healdsburg Avenue, Tuesday's hearing was a whiter shade of pale.

Only four people were present for the meeting -- one of them the applicant, Mark Blanchard.

Commissioner Kathi Engler questioned Blanchard about parking needs, not only for the present operation, but regarding the effect on adjacent businesses, since the winery would be located in an industrial condo complex.

Blanchard indicated that his total number of employees is fairly small. Uniquely, the winery will not be open to the general public, except by reservation or for special events.

According to Blanchard, the winery will not be advertising their location on the directional poles located throughtout town, which direct visitors to various wineries. The winery does not own its own vineyards, but purchases grapes from various local growers.

After some discussion, the Planning Commission approved the use permit, commenting that the use was far enough off the Plaza that tourist activity would be minimal, and the parking issues could be resolved by agreement with the owners association. The project was determined to be compatible with the General Plan and Zoning Ordinance.

Blanchard said later that, with the securance of this permit, the winery would be up and running almost immediately in their new location.

The winery currently produces approximately 1,000 cases per year. Of those, Blanchard noted, probably 500 or so cases were for other labels.

He indicated they have done projects for numerous organizations and causes, including military groups (James Blanchard is a graduate of the Air Force Academy and a pilot), the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

He added the winery is in discussions with St Jude's Hospital and other charitable organizations to produce custom-labeled bottles.

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