Another Plaza tasting room set
A tasting room at 134 Church St. was quietly approved by the Sonoma Planning Commission Thursday. If plans move forward as presented, JAQK Cellars will open in June in the historic building that currently houses Red Wolf Gallery.
This will be the 18th tasting room to open on or within one block of the Plaza perimeter. Two others are in the works.
No one spoke in opposition to this business, unlike the hearings for a similar, but less intense, use at Three Sticks Winery last September. Both will take vehicular access off Church Street.
Owners of JAQK Cellars, Katie Jain and Joel Templin of Hatch Design, and their winemaker, Craig MacLean, hope to draw visitors from the Plaza by way of an easement out to First Street West. Details of the use of that easement have yet to be worked out with Stephan and Laura Havlek. The Havleks own Sign of the Bear, a business that uses the easement for vehicular deliveries to the rear of their property. The approval is conditioned on the perfection of that easement, or a license agreement for its use by the new business.
The property is a 6,800-square-foot parcel fronting Church Street that contains a residential unit and art gallery, studio, and frame shop. The main structure was constructed sometime between 1911 and 1923.
The applicants have proposed a public tasting room, a private wine tasting room, and services space, in addition to an office, a small residential unit for the manager, and a 16-seat tasting room deck. Their architect, Stacy Eisenmann, has promised renovations to the building in accordance with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Historic Buildings.
The tasting room will also have retail products developed by its owners. They did not ask for a music license and do not plan to serve food.
Rob Gjestland, senior planner, pointed out that most of the uses proposed are already allowed in the commercial zone. The decisions made by the commission would be whether or not to allow the deck and to give a parking exception. The uses require nine parking spaces, but only six were proposed. The parking will be off Church Street.
Only two Commissioners voted against the project. Gary Edwards stated that there are potentially 50 seats in the building, which could lead to more intense uses. Mark Heneveld opposed it because of concerns with drainage and the deck seating. But others saw it as a way to improve and preserve a historic building and to make some needed improvements on the Church Street frontage. Parking was still a concern, but put off for a future discussion.
“I am willing to go forward,” said Mathew Tippel. “But we must stop giving exceptions to parking requirements.” He suggested a parking mitigation fee as a possible solution for those who cannot meet parking requirements.