Mountain Winery Annexation Project

Annexation Process

More than a year ago, the City began the process of annexing the Mountain Winery into the Saratoga City limits. While many people already associate this iconic vineyard and concert venue with Saratoga, it is actually located just outside the City limits in unincorporated Santa Clara County. Because the property is under the jurisdiction of Santa Clara County, the City has had no land use control over the operations of this significant urban use in the hillsides above Saratoga. Annexing the Mountain Winery would give the City an opportunity to influence the future of this significant commercial property that has direct impacts on the City. 

Mountain Winery Parking Lot

As part of the annexation, the City engaged in a public process to create a draft plan that would finally limit opportunities for future development to a specific area and would ensure a large percentage of the property remains in its current state. As it is currently drafted, that plan provides an opportunity for the Mountain Winery to propose future lodging that would be limited to 300 rooms and subject to the City’s thorough design review process. 

A number of questions from the February 6 Community Meeting were related to what can occur at the Mountain Winery under Santa Clara County’s zoning regulations. A brief approval history is provided below:

Santa Clara County Approvals at the Mountain Winery
August 2000A Conditional Use Permit established regulations to operate the Mountain Winery as a concert venue, officially permitting the Summer Concert Series that began in 1958
July 2006750-seat expansion to the concert bowl, increasing from 1,750 seats to 2,500 seats
March 2009125-space expansion to the parking lot, increasing from 803 spaces to 933 spaces
October 20185 new buildings totaling over 24,000 square feet and over 9,700 cubic yards of hillside grading

Project Milestones

September 5City Council requested information about the process to annex the Mountain Winery
March 20City Council provided direction to begin the annexation project
May 6Joint City Council and Planning Commission Site Visit to the Mountain Winery
May 8Neighborhood Meeting at the Mountain Winery
June 5Community Meeting to provide information and receive feedback on new General Plan and Zoning designations
June 11Joint City Council and Planning Commission Study Session and presentation (PDF)
July 3City Council meeting to accept scope of Environmental Impact Report (EIR)
July 17Public Scoping Meeting for Notice of Preparation of EIR (PDF)
October 30Draft EIR Released
December 3Community Meeting on Draft EIR
January 22Planning Commission hearing on General Plan/Zoning amendment and Final EIR (Continued)
February 6Community Meeting
February 11Planning Commission second Site Visit
February 12Planning Commission continued Public Hearing
TBDThe City Council was scheduled to hold a Public Hearing on the Mountain Winery Annexation on March 18. Due to the Order to Shelter at Home, the Regular City Council Meeting scheduled for March 18 was canceled. Instead, a Special Meeting was held and only urgent matters were heard. The Public Hearing on the Mountain Winery Annexation will be rescheduled to a future meeting.

Mountain Winery History

The Mountain Winery’s history in the Saratoga hills dates back long before the City of Saratoga was established. In 1878, Paul Masson arrived in San Francisco from France and began working at the winery of Charles Lefranc, located here in in the Santa Clara Valley. After finding success developing a world-class, locally-grown champagne, Paul Masson decided to build his own winery in the Saratoga hills in 1905. 

The Mountain Winery was later listed on the National Register of Historic Places and designated a California Historic Landmark. Paul Masson saw great success over the years, and also experienced challenging times during the prohibition era. In 1936, he sold the winery, then in 1958, a concert bowl was constructed, and the now famous Concert Summer Series began.

The Mountain Winery is now a world-renowned venue for concerts, weddings, fundraisers, graduations, corporate events, and more. In addition to the beautiful courtyard, concert bowl, and original Masson summer home, the site has been developed to include wine tasting, event spaces, and additional buildings to accommodate the venue’s many operations.