Portola Valley winery seeks tasting room permit | May 15, 2019 | Almanac | Almanac Online |


News - May 15, 2019

Portola Valley winery seeks tasting room permit

by Rick Radin

The economics of the wine business and preserving open space are a couple of key considerations facing Neely Wine and the town of Portola Valley in the winery's effort to open a tasting room on its centrally located property at 555 Portola Road.

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49 people like this
Posted by I love wine
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on May 16, 2019 at 6:34 pm

Hmmm. 24 events of 75 people---let's think about that. That's an event every other week, or two a weekend during the summer. That's a lot of traffic and noise for a little town. As well, it seems that the Neelys have simply changed their minds---or expect the Town to change theirs---about making their gentleman's home winery into a larger retail operation. I think wine tastings are fine, in small groups or as occasional bigger events, and don't have any problem with that---but not 24 a year. How about 4 bigger events a year, and small wine tastings whenever.

What really bothered me was what I hope isn't a veiled threat: if you don't do what we want, we'll sell the property for development. That certainly goes completely against everything they said in that big article in the Palo Alto Online about being a steward of open space, and that Kirk and Holly bought it for relaxation and enjoyment. I would hope that they might influence their children into not making this an either/or type of situation. I hope they haven't already deeded the property to their children. Might be better to leave it to POST.

83 people like this
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on May 25, 2019 at 4:38 pm

Hey Almanac, did you forget that Neelys are also applying for permission to have AMPLIFIED, OUTDOOR MUSIC at all of their EVENTS: bachelor parties, birthday parties, weddings (several per day, six week-end days a month. They plan for anything but just elitist wine-tasting several days a week. Or is your “article” just Neely propaganda as it seems? Kiss goodbye any solitude and the existing wildlife at Windy Hill if ANY part of this Neely movement passes.

Neelys’ egregious application goes against nearly every Portola Valley General Plan, and all of its subsets (Open Space, Land Use, Historic Elements, Trails and Paths, Scenic Roads, Safety, Conservation, Noise, Portola Road Corridor Plan, etc). Of course, the Neelys have been hard at work on this goal for decades: constantly badgering and manipulating The Town for own their benefit,


BTW: winery grapes are not eaten as FOOD. They are not sold at farmers markets or at your grocers. Neelys’ grapes’ sole purpose is to MANUFACTURE ALCOHOL. This is not “sustainable farming so that we can grow our own FOOD”. This idiotic fallacy is continually spouted by the very misguided few in favor of (or in bed with financially said applicants) this debauchery but hey, perhaps they truly are feeding their children wine for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Many citizens are severely opposed to this very serious idea, its irrevocable to habitat and wildlife and incredibly altering of our town forever. Its not/barely being covered by The Almanac, that’s obvious. The Town has also failed, every single time for decades, to perform its simple legal obligation to even inform its citizens. But The Town is not unbiased? Environmental groups who have been opposed to nearly every action that the Neelys’ have done to alter that property are always disregarded. But The Town is not unbiased?

Hey PV: your town council members are NOT upholding plain and simple codes and regulations or your best interests. Why? For the sole profit of the Neelys’ bank account and to put you, your children, pedestrians, and bicyclists at far greater risk than they already are — not to mention the destruction of the existing environment and the ruination of ALL surrounding properties on a variety of levels.

Lucy Neely, really? AGAIN with the never-ending, totally impotent Neely NOT SO VEILED threat of a housing development if we don’t bow down to whatever they want, whenever they want. Its hilarious: it is also complete, utter crap. If that were viable or more profitable for Neelys, they’d be doing that as fast as possible. Houses would NEVER be allowed there per state, federal, or HEY even local PV regulations. But let’s pretend that they could put housing there: 30 qty is a pipe dream due to the topography and furthermore, I beg you to do it, Neelys! Put a few houses over there — that would actually not destroy the entire environment, not put drunks and amplified outdoor music pumping and ruining Windy Hill 3 days a week and 3 days every other week-end from dawn well past sunset, and it will also raise property values instead of murdering them (not to mention the poor kids and adults that dare to use that road via their feet, bicycle or vehicle). Do it Neelys, I dare you. Go forth with your pie-in-the-sky housing development.

The Town of PV sadly disregarded their own laws/codes when they allowed Neelys’ to put up the barn (which again, all citizens, many council members, and environment groups were opposed to but the Neelys’ get their way, no matter what or how long it takes or how they have to do it). Gee, why did they want that barn located where it is ten years ago instead of near most of their vineyards that are no where near it? Obviously, Neelys’ had their rocking party barn goal since day one. There were councilpersons who served in the past that recognized this obvious Neely ploy very well, but were overruled by some of the councilpersons still sitting on The Building Commission and on PV Town Council Today.

Did you know that Town Councilpersons can be held personally, criminally liable for their past and future actions? We are seeking to have such criminal charges filed; they are well-deserved. Perhaps The Town will start performing their required responsibilities and put the community and the wildlife and protecting Windy Hill and Portola Valley first instead of Neelys’ bank account balances. If not, they may end up with long criminal records; again: well-deserved.

Also note: Neelys are attempting to insist that their plan is exempt from CEQA. It is not. Should The Town of PV ever grant Neelys’ another CEQA exemption, no matter for even the most minute of issues, this will result in an automatic, very costly lawsuit against The Town of Portola Valley. Your tax dollars will be paying for that, citizens of PV. It will also automatically bring about many other actions to protect this land and stop this stupidity, at all costs. Great job Neelys’, you’ve finally crossed the line far enough to mobilize a massive organization against you and we are well-funded, serious, and we are never stopping.

The Town of PV has not just blatantly ignored facts, its citizens and its own responsibilities, but also highly-regarded, incredibly-well researched and educated environmental groups regarding any further alteration and ruination of this property, let alone the extraordinarily destructive current Neely application/amendment — Mid Peninsula for one. Almanac: where is your quote from them? They only manage Windy Hill, you know, the nature preserve that Neelys’ intend to entirely ruin. MidPen also submitted a dissension letter at the meeting 4/17/19 that outlined very nicely how many promises Neelys’ publicly stated over the past few decades, only to nearly-instantly break their word on almost every single one at their next amendment to alter the land yet again. An Almanac reporter was at said meeting on 4/17/19 but not a single word of the situation was published in The Almanac about it until now? And now only via this pathetic “article” that is so shamefully lacking not just the basic facts of Neelys’ application (hint genius: its all online) that it wouldn’t pass a 2nd grade journalism teacher’s review.

Clearly The Almanac cannot be relied on whatsoever for anything resembling veracity or thoroughness. Fellow citizens: get involved in this outrageous issue immediately. It cannot be denied that its sole purpose is for Neelys’ personal profit only, and that there is nothing but a plethora of negative consequences for Portola Valley as a community, its environment, its infrastructure, and its future generations should even the smallest part of this be allowed to pass.

Again: get involved or kiss the solitude of Windy Hill good-bye, along with the last Open Space on Portola Road, and many, many other important issues that will eventually affect your or your children directly. Neelys’ can afford to put their wine-bar and party barn and wedding/event venue in an urban area, where it belongs. And since they promise that they cannot afford to do such (lol), they’d better show up to the June planning meeting with audited financial statements proving otherwise, since it is one of their main reasons for HAVING to ruin 555 Portola Road. Let’s see the proof Neelys’, your company and ALL Neelys’ personal financial statements. Surely you’ll have zero issue proving the #1 reason for this entire charade.

Anyone still idiotic-enough to belong to any of their wine clubs, purchase their wines, offer it in their restaurants or sell it on their grocer shelves, or patronize local establishments that sell it — think about it and boycott them all, now. Otherwise, you are as responsible for the destruction of this space, Windy Hill, and Portola Valley’s well-loved and super-rare defining characteristic of open space, land and solitude. Isn’t that why you live here? If not, feel free to move away to party-central ~~ there are more than enough of those in the area already. Neelys’ plan to turn Portola Valley into one of them is never happening.

But your letter of dissent, your boycotts, your showing up at meetings — bring it on fellow citizens. Nothing better than a Town Hall full of determined and finally-informed citizens, and apparently this Town Council is in dire need of such after decades of deciding in favor of Neelys' and against Portola Valley, and never being held accountable. Its not just your civic responsibility…you’ve been intentionally deprived of knowing about the majority of the Neelys’ activities (both on the land and especially in using your councilpersons as puppets and in their well-crafted alterations of The Town of Portola Valley documents to suit their future plans)

82 people like this
Posted by BOYCOTT!
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on May 25, 2019 at 10:42 pm

AMEN to the above comment. FINALLY the public is informed about facts like the town of Portola illegally hasn't notified residents, amongst many other things, that I pray that they will be held legally accountable for. Both individually and The Town of Portola as its own entity. Disgusting, ignorant, illegal, and vastly against anything Portola stands for. Get online and read the minutes from just the last decade that have anything to do with the Neelys. The Neelys' prove that they had this plan from the start, and did whatever they had to in order to finable a position to get it.

Unethical: truly a vast understatement. Neelys: if you cannot make enough money with your boutique wineries without bringing Urban Cowboy to town (fyi: nobody believes ANY of you), than go and get REAL jobs like everybody else on the planet. Neelys: SELL THE LAND TO MID PENINSULA where it truly belongs; a part of Windy Hill at long last. THAT is what honest, ethical people would do. No, honest, ethical people would donate it to MidPen. Instead, we shall see exactly what the Neelys are about, at last.

WAKE UP PORTOLA! Stop the entirely greed-driven Neelys' and save our land, our peace, our wildlife, our children and our guests on Portola Rd whether walking, bicycling, or driving. There is NO reason that any part, no matter how slight, of this application should even be considered by Portola Town Council. ALL ideas in their application are ludicrous, intensely insensitive to the current habitat, wildlife, and humans living nearby, and has absolute negative benefit to Portola Valley, many negatives: higher taxes and infrastructure costs and policing requirements, massive safety issues, noise impacts, groundwater issues, and even if it didn't:

ARE WE, Portola Valley, ARE WE going to destroy this supposedly legally-protected MEADOW PRESERVE (rip those damn vines out of there immediately and rip down that stupid barn that never should've been allowed to have been put up: fix what you messed up, Town of Portola)...ARE WE, YOU AND I, going to help destroy the last OPEN SPACE on the PORTOLA CORRIDOR? Simply and only to make the Neelys' even more rich than they already are?

NO we aren't. We're going to quit their wine club. We are never going to purchase another Neely product as long as we live, or patronize any establishment that serves Neely drink which is directly bourne out of extremely unethical tactics. Talk about Evil Spirits! No, PORTOLA DOES NOT ALLOW THIS IN OUR TOWN.

The Neelys' true faces have been shown. Their pretend-stewardship of the land has been exposed for the lies that it has been from the start. They are beyond redemption: be gone with them, take back what is ours, and hold our Town Council accountable in every way possible. IT IS ON PORTOLA. Do what's right, right now.

12 people like this
Posted by Lucy Neely
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on May 26, 2019 at 3:02 pm

Hello. I wasn’t sure how to respond directly to the comment/s above, so just posting a new comment...trying to reach out to the person who left the two comments above to extend an invitation to communicate with me directly. I appreciate your passion and your desire to protect what is great about Portola Valley. I share that desire. I see that you are very upset about our proposal, and please believe me I understand where you are coming from. I also notice that you have a fair amount of inaccurate understanding around a lot of the logistical realities of our proposal (especially since we have further revised it to respond to concerns from neighbors and planning commissioners) and was hoping to offer you more accurate information. If you’d like to ask me any questions, offer any feedback directly, understand how some of your fears are based on inaccurate information, or generally have a conversation about this, I welcome that. You can reach out to me at my email address lucy [at] neelywine.com and I would be happy to talk. Best wishes.

82 people like this
Posted by TRUTH
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on May 26, 2019 at 4:03 pm

Nice try Lucy! Bravo. But no one is under any "inaccurate understandings". Your application has NOT been altered, at all, to reflect anyone's extremely valid concerns.

AMPLIFIED OUTDOOR MUSIC ADJACENT TO WINDY HILL...for starters. What an incredibly arrogant, insulting, and obvious ploy of a post from you: such a devoted destroyer of the environment, wildlife, communities and neighborhoods. ONLY for your own personal profit. Lucy, that's a life legacy to be extremely proud of.

The Environmental Groups who have been mobilizing, as well as the legal teams that have been preparing for months: They and citizens of Portola Valley now have the truth, your entire family's public statements for years and years that so gorgeously prove the deviant strategizing, all applications and amendments, just mountains of evidence. Thanks for reaching out Lucy: but those experts and attorneys are the folks that will be "getting back to you". Along with your fellow citizens who are no longer ignorant to that the Neelys have apparently been plotting forever to decimate our community for the singular reason of Neely Greed.

We attempted to be reasonable with your family, and your lackeys on the town council, for decades: that is over, forever. It all has to be legal against all of you now. You have truly left us no choice. Thank yourselves.

OF COURSE you understand WHY better than anyone Lucy, and we are very happy that you can at least admit that. It means that you know full well the unstoppable train headed straight for you all, and that each of you absolutely deserve it, full force.

We have zero inaccuracies or fears, but clearly you do, as well you should. Its all public domain, and has been examined by some of the best minds and attorneys on this subject for months and months now.

Again: nice try Lucy! It is obvious, pathetic, and worthless, but it surely is an extremely typical Neely speech. As if ANYBODY needs to be subjected to more Neely speeches? We have enough, all vomit-worthy, on public record already.

Looking forward to seeing you under the spotlight of some of the best experts in the nation soon. Have a great day Lucy!

9 people like this
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on May 26, 2019 at 4:36 pm

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

Lucy and Simon, I look forward to visiting your tasting room. I might even visit Windy Hill to hear your music.

I wish you all the best.

7 people like this
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on May 26, 2019 at 5:07 pm

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

Don't overlook the retail sales taxes the Neely's would bring into the Town's coffers. Might be enough to avoid a parcel tax.

11 people like this
Posted by Tracy Cowperthwaite
a resident of Portola Valley: Los Trancos Woods/Vista Verde
on May 26, 2019 at 5:40 pm

Seems to me that if someone is going to post something they should use their name ? Maybe it's just me, but an anonymous post is fairly useless and entirely untrustworthy.

57 people like this
Posted by OUR NAMES
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on May 27, 2019 at 1:34 pm

Anonymous posts are well-protected by the United States Constitution. Anonymity doesn't make a post suspect or untrue in any manner whatsoever. What a categorically ILLITERATE assertion. Anonymous tip-offs brought down a US President, recall that, Copperthwaithe? Amongst many other highly important, legal and far-reaching issues in this country.

What IS extraordinarily suspect are people like Copperthwaithe, pretending as though anonymous posts are somehow untrue.

The fact that any one is pretending to be more interested in "who" is posting the truth, and that they therefore are trying to discredit THE TRUTH, instead of championing THE TRUTH and THE DESTRUCTION that it will FOREVER cause our land and town environment, is beyond reprehensible.

Citizens: Just go to the Town of Portola Valley Website and read the truth for yourself. Its all online. Public statements, minutes, agendas, Neelys' applications and amendments over countless years. The Neelys and the councilpersons have already posted their names to THE TRUTH thousands of times in the public records.

15 people like this
Posted by Real Truth
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on May 27, 2019 at 2:24 pm

Let’s also be sure we understand that this ranting poster is posting under different names (easy to do, just use a different IP address) and is “liking” his own post numerous times (also easy to do, just open up a new private browsing window, vote, close and repeat). Nice rant though, glad I don’t have to go home to that every night...

17 people like this
Posted by re: real truth
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on May 27, 2019 at 2:31 pm

You can only baselessly wish and dream and hope that the posts or the likes are the same person (the ones that you do not agree with, right?). Fantasy.

Yet again another person afraid of the citizens of Portola Valley knowing THE TRUTH. The TRUTH must be a lot worse than we even think, for you all to go to this much trouble.

I'm sure that who, or whatever, it is that you go home to at night would not prefer it, too...

7 people like this
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on May 27, 2019 at 3:33 pm

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

I went to the Town of Portola Valley Website. The Neely's have earned the support of the community. I found Lucy Neely's statement, appended below, especially convincing. And, for their stewardship of this precious land, they deserve whatever money they can derive from it's use. Compatible revenue producing uses of a small percentage of open space lands should be considered by government stewards of those lands.

"Ms. Neely addressed the concern about their motivation for the project. She said there were concerns that the Neelys would be compromising the Scenic Corridor for financial gain or that Portola Valley might be compromising its ethics to support a commercial venture that is inherently mercenary. She said their goal is to preserve Spring Ridge and to preserve the Scenic Corridor. She said making money in a wine business is an accessory use to the principal use of preserving Spring Ridge. She
said if their goal was to make money, the real estate development potential of Spring Ridge is much greater than anything they could make from a boutique winery. She said the wine business is for the love of the land, of the agriculture, of the wine, and hopefully the community you can share it with. "

3 people like this
Posted by Housing advocate
a resident of Portola Valley: Westridge
on Jun 2, 2019 at 3:27 am

So if the Winery is going to add tasting rooms, event spaces etc. then Maybe housing is a better use of the land. Why is the Neely's building on the land Good Stewardship while housing for local workers a bad use of the land. Heck, the Neelys seem to upset their neighbors, so maybe the land would be better used for housing. A few low income housing residents here sounds better to me then a bunch of drunken partiers driving around the area

1 person likes this
Posted by Idea
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Jun 2, 2019 at 9:33 am

I am all for opening a tasting room, however I think it would be best if it as residents only. Otherwise we will have attend and streams of vehicles pouring into town... think about how busy it is already on the weekend... I can already imagine drunk patrons colliding with cyclists and pedestrians, a disaster waiting to happen. Lucy, can you consider this proposal? It would be great to have a community supported tasting room exclusively for PV, and I think it would be beneficial without having any negative impacts

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