SJC's Vineyard May Have Fewer Vines

Hamilton Oaks Vineyard, which is set to move into the historic Swanner House, wants changes to its plans.

San Juan Capistrano’s first winery may have fewer grapevines than you think.

The vendor moving into the historic Swanner House, Hamilton Oaks Vineyard – whose main operations are in Trabuco Canyon – wants more room for parking and events.  The City Council . 

The owner is now asking for a fewer demonstration vines and the possible removal of orange trees that have been on the property for decades.

The City Council will consider the changes at its next meeting, Tuesday.

“Staff has determined that the proposed … revisions significantly exceed the prior City Council approval,” staff wrote in a report to council in asking for guidance.

Specifically, Hamilton Oaks is seeking to:

  • Nearly double the size of the parking lot, from 12 to 23 space, and move the handicapped stalls
  • Add more bathrooms
  • Greatly expand the size of the events area, which will host parties and weddings
  • Add flood lights in the parking area, market string lights in the event area
  • Allow for a catering set-up area
  • Build an outdoor storage shed

When , built in 1923, the city began an informal process of soliciting proposals from wineries to rent the facility.

Some members of other city commissions , .

The council meets at 6 p.m. Tuesday at , 32400 Paseo Adelanto in San Juan Capistrano.

shelly July 13, 2012 at 01:18 PM
Steve Behmerwohld July 13, 2012 at 02:13 PM
This should surprise no one.
Matt Gaffney July 13, 2012 at 04:31 PM
A deal is a deal. The winery should be held to it's original deal. My commission, Transportation, was bypassed entirely on this project. Now he wants changes? No way in my opinion.
Lon Uso July 13, 2012 at 04:33 PM
What a brilliant idea, having vineyards and wineries at the Swanner House and all along Camino Capistrano, whose idea was that anyway?. BTW, Father Serra might be a bit upset calling this the first winery in San Juan. If you care about history, vineyards have been part of the Mission longer than orange groves. Can you imagine vineyards all along the I5 corridor on the open space and ridge line?
Penny Arévalo (Editor) July 13, 2012 at 04:37 PM
That's my bad. Part of the attraction and selling point for the winery was to RETURN wineries to San Juan. I meant first MODERN-day winery. Apologies
Frank E. July 13, 2012 at 05:00 PM
Our city council was just a little too quick to approve this deal, by passing the normal process. It will be interesting to see how this is handled.
Steve Behmerwohld July 13, 2012 at 07:37 PM
Lon, your idea was for a "Winery". I liked that idea. This project is much more a wedding and events center than a winery.
Ilse M. Byrnes July 13, 2012 at 09:18 PM
The revision proposal by Hamilton Oaks Winery t drastically change the present approved site plan of the Swanner Property is unacceptable. Lights-increased parking- a new access road and a huge container plus the possible loss of orange trees to accomodate all that should not be permitted. It will damage the historic integrety of the site that is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Lon Uso July 13, 2012 at 10:53 PM
Steve, every journey starts with the first step. the facility will be run by a winery and there will be wine tasting as well as some small vineyards. most popular wineries offer weddings as well as other social functions. if this venue proves to be successful (although the "nos" are already lining up to stop this), there will be others that see the vision.
Dusty W Otero July 14, 2012 at 01:42 AM
When is Bill Ramsey or Grant Taylor going to water the existing orange trees...there in dire need of water...you pay Ed and his crew to manage that and pick those ripe oranges man what is going on...that is a shame all those oranges falling on the ground,,,that is what I care about,,,and if this owner wants more parking,,,lets get real he has a business and those trees are dead people..pull them out so they need not suffer...how would u like no water...I am serous..
Dusty W Otero July 14, 2012 at 01:47 AM
Its not a winery he does not make wine there? its called The Hamilton Oaks vineyard .weddings wine sampling..events...and good for that area..I give him lots of credit for purchasing that 2.5 acres I call it the North west dust bowel.....open space...
Dusty W Otero July 14, 2012 at 01:50 AM
I would like to see a road side orange smoothie, stand..,and veggie snacks out there too...how about that A good cold Orange Julius..and shuttle rides into historic down town...
Penny Arévalo (Editor) July 14, 2012 at 01:53 AM
He didn't purchase the property. The city still owns it. Hamilton Oaks is renting it. It's not really designed as a winery (the actual winery is in Trabuco Canyon), but mroe of a tasting room and event center. There will be some demonstration vines. Also, the trees are part of the historic designation and cannot be pulled unless dead or dying.
Lon Uso July 14, 2012 at 02:00 AM
Dusty I've missed you and your crazy ideas Lon
Dusty W Otero July 14, 2012 at 02:34 AM
Yes I have missed you I hope you are back here living again and lets create some jobs on this open space...and remember my casino I wanted to build out in the Great park million of dollars in the red...and if we had a Mission Indian Casino Of The O-c we could have lots of jobs a earned tax profits for our struggling O - C...and the Hot springs on ortega highway should be open..and I want to mine the Native American Land in trust out east M.V area...there is martian dust out there lol no there is clay...silver and gold out there...
Dusty W Otero July 14, 2012 at 02:36 AM
What is normal??
Lon Uso July 14, 2012 at 02:45 AM
No Dusty, I am gone for good but still love San Juan and hope for great success for the city
Joel Peshkin July 14, 2012 at 02:05 PM
Sounds like the Forster Mansion all over again. If it looks like an event center, walks like an events center, and quacks like an events center, then it is an events center.
Lon Uso July 14, 2012 at 03:24 PM
I just got back from 3 weeks in Europe thanks in part to a tour that I bought from the chamber at a function at "THE EVENT CENTER" in San Juan, the Mission. Is Swanner more historically relevant than the Mission? Were the orange trees removed at the Strosher old grove to make room for parking less important or beautiful? BTW, I got to see some pretty old buildings in Rome, Venice and Florence. they were fairly well preserved for (some) being just a couple of thousand years old. It gave me some perspective.
Matt Gaffney July 14, 2012 at 04:09 PM
It sounds like Jays Catering wants to have this site configured to their specifications. These revisions go way beyond the plan the Council was originally presented & approved. I vote NO.
Alberto Barrera July 14, 2012 at 05:47 PM
I agree with Dusty, we have many citrus trees who's fruits have gone to waste. If we had picked those oranges before they sprayed them with pesticides, we could have sold them at a premium as truly organic. I also agree that the Hot Springs should be open to the public as they were before CALTRANS ruined their location, unfortunately that's in the hands of County, not the city.
Lon Uso July 14, 2012 at 06:32 PM
Why not negotiate and work out a compromise instead of just voting the typical capistraNO. this project has the potential of starting a whole new revenue stream for the city not to mention a number of new jobs for some residents. Stop being so afraid of change, then maybe you can help guide it because I promise you, you will never stop it
Dusty W Otero July 14, 2012 at 06:53 PM
Alberto...thanks ..I will be at the sjc council meeting this Tuesday...I am off to the north . west open space. dust bowel r...now...lol and yes Penny I know he didn't buy the 2.5 acres.....thanks for that...We need to have some of this open space raise row crops...and not let the fertile,ground be left empty...Its just calling out for plant me put some seeds in the ground like my great Italian Grandpa...who planted the first seed in this valley..John Daneri...back in 1846...along with bill bathgate and us pioneering family,s... who founded the farming era...let the children see growing fruit trees avocado.. what I did when I was a kid here in Beautiful Valley of San Juan....that is what it was called San Juan Valley...enjoy ur day..
Connie Tamez July 14, 2012 at 11:07 PM
How many fewer vines??! According to the most recent submitted plans, we have increased the original number of vines - 4 more ROWS have been added to the educational area. The only trees that have been removed were dead, flagged by the city. The parking area is the original size and location. More parking spaces are available due to the dead tree and propane tank removal. We have always planned a tasting room and event center. The event center was always on the Open Space drawings provided by yhe city. Crazy how facts get misconstrued!
Penny Arévalo (Editor) July 15, 2012 at 12:01 AM
I have attached the city's report for everyone's perusal. While the headline is both literal and figurative, it is reflecting that Hamilton Oaks is now asking for almost double the parking, greatly increased events area, more bathrooms and lighting, none of which were originally part of the plans. Two City Council members were at a meeting Friday in which they indicated that the new plans are significant enough to have them come back for the council to review. The report indicates the staff has several concerns about them.
Ilse M. Byrnes July 15, 2012 at 12:35 AM
Yes Penny- as I too pointed out that new plan -or call it revised is NOT what originally was approved. Larger area for parking-lights-additional bathrooms , new access road and on top of it a huge storage container . None of that fits in this historic site. This is not how you treat a site on the National Register of Historic Places.
Connie Craddock Tamez July 15, 2012 at 01:20 AM
Parking lot is original size and number of spaces (28). Councilman Allevato, at the last meeting, strongly recommended lighting rather than rely on others' headlights (the same type as the Christmas tree lot but fewer in number). Lights are a safety issue! Additional bathrooms (portable & temporary) are a requirement by the county - one for every 50 people. Swanner is on septic at this time and can only accommodate 25 flushes per day, but you knew that. Access road is an existing entry. Public Works parked their trucks using the existing gate. The container will not be visible from the street. We have worked diligently to maintain the integrity of this historic site, which will now be made available for all to enjoy. Ilse, you should know this better than anyone, as we've taken great care in reproducing the historical photos that you provided us so all can view. This is a great opportunity for SJC's community and local businesses.
Ilse M. Byrnes July 15, 2012 at 02:21 AM
Connie: your comments do not spell out what the problem is with your newly revised proposal. Just read City Council Staff Report- July 17 pg. 2- paragraph 3 that points out the revision of the site plan.- that really is of great concern to me
Joel Peshkin July 15, 2012 at 02:37 AM
Connie, The Christmas tree lot is an open code enforcement case as their lights are in gross violation of the city's own lighting ordinance. I would not hold it as an example of something that should be done. Any lighting will need to be full-cutoff and properly installed so that it shines down ONLY and casts no glare off the property.
Connie Craddock Tamez July 15, 2012 at 05:01 AM
We wouldn't even consider installing anything that isn't to code.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »